Hero Mastering a Lion

Hero Mastering a Lion. Relief from the façade of the throne room, Palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad (Dur Sharrukin), Gypseous alabaster, relief, traces of paint, 713–706 BCE. The Louvre, Paris.

This imposing sculpture, measuring over five meters high, depicts a figure choking a lion. The spirit or hero overpowering the lion is in a frontal position, which is rare in Assyrian art and used only for creatures playing a magical role. Lion-taming spirits are often identified with the hero Gilgamesh, who was a legendary figure but also a historical king of Uruk. They symbolized divine and royal power, and the calm strength that emanated from them protected the palace and ensured the continuity of the ruler's power.

Hero mastering a lion

Characteristic of a deity (a god or goddess).

A Mesopotamian king from ~2500 B.C.E.; he became the hero of a major epic poem and was addressed as a deity in later religious texts.

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