131. Hercules and the Nemean Lion

Once upon a time, King Eurystheus of Mycenae and Tiryns, commanded a labor to Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, to bring the skin of the monstrous lion, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, who ravaged the land of Nemea, between Phlius and Cleonae.

Taking his bow, arrows, and his weathered club, Hercules set out to kill the Nemean lion. Upon reaching the terrain of the lion, he searched with keen gaze, hoping to see the lion before the lion saw him. It was hot noon when Hercules spotted a cave and he hid in the nearby bushes, waiting for the lion. After some time, the lion arrived with some victim’s blood spattered on his breast, while his tongue licked his blood covered jaws.

Aiming at the lion’s left flank, Hercules swiftly loosed a sure arrow, which simply rebounded from the lion’s stiff flesh. The astonished lion snarled and glanced all around. This time aiming at the lungs, Hercules sent another arrow, which could not make even a scratch on the lion’s tough hide and fell uselessly at his paws. The lion roared, saw Hercules and sprang to taste his new victim.

Instantly, Hercules picked his heavy club, swung it about his ears and brought it down on the lion’s maned head. Instead of smashing the lion’s skull, the sturdy olive wood of the club was itself smashed to pieces, for so invincible was the lion’s hide. However, the mighty blow had stunned the lion, who stood with trembling feet and swaying head. Before the lion could recover, Hercules quickly reached the lion’s behind, solidly pressed his heels on the lion’s hind paws, pressed his knees on the lion’s sides, encircled the lion’s neck in a choking position with his strong arms, squeezed his arms, arched his spine backwards, lifted the lion, and choked the brutal beast to death. Thereafter, using the lion’s own claws, Hercules skinned the lion’s invincible hide, and wrapped the lion-skin around his body, to serve as a shield.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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