Ancient Knowlege of Lions

How widespread were Lions within pre-Roman times? How were they so well known a creature, thet Homer often alludes to characters being Lions, Lion-like, or attacking and stalking enimies like a Lion stalks its prey?
Were there ancient zoos or circuses, or were lions more wide spread so as to be found in mediteranian Africa? Of course Lions are remarcably evocative beasts, but in the times of Homer (about 800 BCE) many fantastical beasts were believed to exist far more dangerous than a lion.

I tried a better Googling for “european lion” instead of the non-helpful lion distribution ancient. I get though confusing and conflicting cites, some about a European Lion that became extinct 10,000 years ago others about southern european lions that may have existed upto Christian times. Does anyone know if their is bone evidence for native european lions from a few centuries BC ?

I remember from Latin class that there were Lions in southern Europe into historical times but most Lions were brought back from Africa.

According to [url=“”]wikipedia, Roman emporers kept Barbary lions (now extinct, once lived from Egypt to Morocco) and the Asiatic Lion lived in Greece and Turkey.

That didn’t go quite as planned. Let’s try a map instead.

Ancient Knowledge of Lions

Speaking of Barbary lions, I was surprised to find that there’s an effort underway to “resurrect” the species. Apparently, 20th Century Ethiopian rulers maintained lions that have the morphological characteristics associated with Barbaries; genetic testing is going on, with the ultimate aim of restoring Barbary lions to the wild. I hope this is all on the level: Barbary Lions.

Excellent, I had no idea there were Indian Lions alive until quite recently. Thanks y’all.

The ancient Greeks were quite familiar with Africa. Homer would have been familiar with the nature of lions from written accounts, even if he never saw one in the wild.

Encyclopedia Britannica:

I am reading A Short History of the World by Geoffrey Blainey.
It says that the Assyian kings hunted the Asian lion from chariots. I’m glad to hear that a few have survived according to Can Handle the Truth.

Cecil discusses this, too. Kinda.