A Winged Hero Contesting with a Lion for a Bull

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A Winged Hero Contesting with a Lion for a Bull

Cylinder seal and impression

Mesopotamia, Neo-Babylonian period
ca.1000–539 B.C.
Carnelian
38.5 x 18 mm
Seal no. 747
Item description: 

In the miniature space on the surface of this seal, the artist created a contest of monumental proportions: a demonic lion faces a winged superhuman hero. The lion's threatening gesture and the tension of his sharp claws suggest his evil power. But the hero will prevail. Taller than the lion, he calmly dominates it, and the bull—the victim of the contest— remains in his power. The smooth muscular forms of the heroic figure are set off by his carefully detailed and ornamented flounced garment. Despite the violence of the action, the figures seem frozen in time—a result of the symmetry.