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Leo: The Lion

Myth based on the original Greek legend.


Once upon a time, in the ancient lands of Greece, long before zoos reigned supreme, Hera was in charge of all, as queen of the gods in Mount Olympus. Overlooking the home of the ancient Greeks, with its amphoras, amphitheaters, and temples for gods and goddesses, Hera observed with a compassionate eye. Eventually, Hera noticed men, demi-gods, and gods alike watching in awe of a man named Hercules.

Hercules' feats of strength were unrivaled. He was attractive in the eyes of many people. A violent and powerful king had already sent the young hero on not one, not two, not three, but TWELVE labors! Hera knew words, thoughts, and writings would immortalize Hercules forever. Now, Hera would come to watch with agony as Hercules defeated the Lernaean Hydra, culminating in the unfortunate accidental death of the great, giant, and gentle Crab.

Nothing surprised Hera more than when Chiron, a mighty archer and even more prominent educator and mentor, chose to aid Hercules. And it was with the help of Chiron's excellent handcraftsmanship that Hercules defeated the impressive Nemean lion on his first labor, sent by a violent and powerful king. 

Now, this lion was no ordinary lion. This lion was fierce, ferocious, and beautiful. No one who dared to enter the lion's Lair returned alive. Its magnificence and equally attracted everyone who saw the lion. Its roar, however, kept everything at bay... except Hercules, that is. 

Hercules entered the lion's Lair with force and confidence. Hera scoffed at the young hero's audacity to show such a terrible beast no fear. The lion's Lair was stunning. Bones piled in all corners of the cave displayed the lion's grandeur. Liquid gold-sheathed claw marks lined the cave's walls. And jewels of the rarest sort laid strewn about the floor delicately and intentionally.

Hercules drew an arrow from his quiver. Hera scoffed.

"HA!" scoffed the lion, too. "You think your arrows will work?"

"They're crafted by the mightiest," Hercules replied. "At the request of the king and with the help of Chiron and many others, I have come to slay you."

"Slay me?" the lion scoffed again. "What king?" he asked.

"King Eurystheus, of my blood," Hercules declared. He drew his aiming arm back and let go his tight grip on the tense bowstring. An arrow flew effortlessly towards the lion's brilliant golden coat.

Hera rolled her eyes. Hercules' arrow dropped untouched the moment it reached the lion's fur.

"Impenetrable," the lion smiled. "You shall not slay me."

The lion laughed, and Hera grimaced in horror as Hercules drew his bow again, quickly shooting the Lion in the mouth. The lion collapsed in a dead heap.

"Penetrable," Hera gasped. She moved in closer just as Athena, goddess of wisdom, also approached the scene. Hera knew Athena was fascinated by the feats of Hercules' strength. The queen of the gods watched as Athena approached Hercules, who was now struggling quite embarrasingly to skin the lion's golden fur. To no avail, Hercules used all the weapons he had brought with him. Not even Chiron's piercing arrows could find a way through the Nemean lion's thick hide. 

"The answer is all around you," Athena let out.

Hercules glanced up at the sound of a goddess nearby. And in front of him, stretching in ways across from, above, and around him, the brilliant golden claw marks glimmered. Hercules picked up a discarded lion claw and began to slice the hide successfully.

Observing this act of generosity by Athena towards Hercules, Hera sought to balance the scales. She had learned much from the goddess of justice, Themis. Here knew Hercules would continue in his labors with much the same success. She also knew he would be written about by many writers, thought about by many thinkers, and viewed by many people as the mighty hero he was. So, she mustered all her power to immortalize the Nemean lion in the stars above, as well. The lion's love of beauty and drama should not go un-celebrated, Hera thought.

Like, Chiron, the lion also became the stars in the sky. The constellation Leo is where the Nemean Lion resides now. He decorates the sky with glimmers of stardust, dancing beautifully and radiating beauty for all to see.

The End.

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