ancient Nemea

Nemea is an ancient site in the
northeastern part of the Peloponnese,
Ancient Nemea

Formerly part of the territory of Cleonae in ancient Argolis, it is today situated in the regional unit of Corinthia. The small village of Archaia Nemea (formerly known as “Koutsoumadi” and then “Iraklion”) is immediately southwest of the archaeological site, while the new town of Nemea lies to the west.
In Greek mythology, Heracles overcame the Nemean Lion of the Lady Hera. During Antiquity, the Nemean Games were played in three sequences, ending about 235 BC, celebrated in the eleven Nemean odes of Pindar.


The Temple of Nemeios Zeus

The temple of Nemeios Zeus (330 BC) which was built with tufa on the ruins of an older archaic temple. A combination of three ancient Greek architectural styles was applied (Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian Orders). The foundations are 44.5m. long, and 22m. wide. The temple is situated at the center of the holy grounds, dedicated to Zeus, which included several buildings and monuments. During the excavations (1973 – 2004) the sanctuary of Zeus was unearthed (east of the temple entrance), as well as bath facilities, the foundations of a large hostel, and the Shrine of Opheltes.

Nemean Lion

The Nemean Lion was a legendary creature in Greek mythology that ravaged the area of Nemea. Its fur was impenetrable by human weapons and hence, was unstoppable. It was considered the child of Typhon and Echidna, the father and mother of all monsters. Other accounts mention Zeus and Selene as their parents.
Slaying the Nemean Lion was the first task that King Eurystheus asked of the demigod Heracles during the myth of the Labours of Heracles. One version has it that the lion kidnapped women from Nemea and kept them in its lair to lure warriors. When the brave warrior sees the woman, she would turn into a lion and kill him. Heracles reached a nearby city, where he met a young boy; the boy told him that if he killed the lion within thirty days, then the lion would be sacrificed to Zeus. Otherwise, the boy would sacrifice himself.
Heracles tracked down the lion and tried to kill it by shooting arrows. He realized though, that it was no use because of its impenetrable fur. He waited until the lion entered its lair from one of the two entrances. He then blocked off the second entrance and entered the cave as well. There, he managed to kill the lion by strangling it with his bare hands. He then tried to remove the skin from the lion but his knife was unable to cut it. After a lot of effort, the goddess Athena decided to help him, and told him to use one of the lion’s claws to skin the creature. Heracles emerged victorious on the thirtieth day after he had met the boy.

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