21 September 2014, Berlin
Louis XIV, who saw himself as the new Alexander the Great, adopted the lion as one of his symbols. Although he didn’t wear a lion skin on his head like Alexander, real and imaginary lions surrounded him.
The lion long pre-dated Alexander as a symbol of power and majesty. On visits to two of Berlin’s many wonderful museums, I recorded just a few examples of the many appearances of the king of beasts in antiquity. We think of lions as animals of sub-Saharan Africa. But two sub-species of lions existed outside that region: the Barbary lion of North Africa (Panthera leo leo),
now extinct in the wild, and the Asian lion (Panthera leo persica), with perhaps 250 individuals now living in India. These are the animals we see represented in antiquity.