Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Alexander the Great Wearing the Head of the Nemean Lion as a Helmet

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

336/323 BC

Artist:

Greek, minted in Amphipolis, Macedonia

About this artwork

Herakles was the consummate hero. Temples across Greece and South Italy were dedicated to him, the son of Zeus, and Romans, who knew him as Hercules, celebrated him as a role model. With brute force, determination, and just enough cleverness, Herakles completed his famous Twelve Labors to become immortal. Herakles is readily identifiable by his knobby club and lion’s skin. The latter refers to his First Labor, in which he killed a magical beast who was ravaging the town of Nemea. The lion’s invincible hide made him immune to weapons, so Herakles strangled him and took his pelt. Depictions of Herakles’s other Labors can be seen throughout the galleries.

When Alexander the Great (r. 336–323 BC) became king, he issued coins that were purposely similar to popular coins picturing Herakles. Claiming that the god was his ancestor, Alexander portrayed himself as the hero wearing the lion’s skin as a helmet.

Currently Off View

Ancient and Byzantine Art

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Alexander the Great Wearing the Head of the Nemean Lion as a Helmet

Origin

Amphipolis

Date

336 BC–323 BC

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 2.5 cm

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number

1920.709

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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