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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.


336-323 BCE


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.

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.


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Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


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


Amfípolis (Minted in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

336 BCE–323 BCE




Diam.: 2.5 cm (1 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number


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