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Humankind has a long history of life with lions. Since ancient times lion deities have been revered in mythology and legend. They have also been feared as monsters and bizarre hybrid creatures usually symbolizing humanity's greatest or worst attributes. From Mesopotamia to medieval Europe, the lion plays an important role in folklore and religion.

Below is a list of all the various representations of lions with a brief description of their appearance and role.

Aker: Aker is one of the oldest Egyptian lion gods. He guarded the gate of the dawn through which the sun god emerged everyday. He is also thought to cure snake bites and he opened the doors to the underworld for deceased pharaohs.

Image: http://www.ladyoftheflame.co.uk/Deities.htm

Arensnuphis: This anthropomorphic Egyptian god is sometimes depicted as a lion, at other times as a man with a plumed crown. He is often referred to as a companion of Isis and there is a temple dedicated to him in Philae built during the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator. Other names include: Ari-hes-nefer, Arsnuphis and Harensnuphis.

Image: none found

Barong: The Barong is a protective spirit in traditional Balinese mythology who helped Rangda escape the evil curses sent by his mother. Today, the Barong dance is an important and sacred ritual performed in Indonesia and Barong masks can be found everywhere.

Image: http://www.balinese.gq.nu/barong.htm

Chimera: The Chimera appears in ancient Greek mythology with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent. Both Homer and Hesiod had written about his monster as a fierce, fire breathing creature which terrorizes the land of Lycia. The Chimera is the offspring of Echinda and Typhon and was raised by the King of Caria, Amisodarus.

Image: http://www.monstrous.com/chimera.htm

Chnubis: Chnubis is a Roman god with both Egyptian and Greek properties. He is depicted as a snake with a lion's head.

Image: http://images.google.com/images?q=chnoubis&hl=en

Dedun: Egyptian/Nubian god of wealth and incense. Sometimes depicted as a lion, but more often as a human.

Image: none found.

Griffin: The Griffin is a mythological Greek creature who is known as the protector of treasure. His body is a combination of lion and eagle parts. The Griffin's claws are thought to change in the presence of poison and many drinking vessels were made in his shape for this reason. Griffins were thought to guard the gold mines in India and Scythia. They are also thought to guard the Tree of Life, knowledge and the road to salvation.

Image: http://www.monstrous.com/griffins.htm

Imdugud Imdugud is the thunderbird of the Sumerian god Enki, the patron god of artisans. Imdugud is the bringer of the south wind who carries the rain on his back and his roar is the thunder. He is depicted as a bird with a lion's head.

Image: http://60centuries.copper.org/ancient1.html

Mahes: Mahes is also know as the lord of the massacre and is depicted as either a lion or a man with a lion's head. He was the son of Bast. Like other leonine deities, he is fierce and aggressive, but he is also known as the protector of the innocent and as a god of healing. He was worshipped predominantly in the Nile Delta and there is a temple dedicated to him in Bubastis. In Greece he is known a Miysis.

Image: none found

Manticore: The Manticore has the body of a lion, the head of man with many rows of teeth, a scorpion's tail and a flute-like voice. The Manticore is rumored to live in the forests of India and, like the Sphinx, gives its prey riddles before killing it. It likes the taste of human flesh in particular. The Manticore seems to originate in ancient Persian mythology and became an emblem for the profit Jeremiah in the middle ages. At the same time it became a symbol of tyranny, disagreement and envy.

Image: http://www.monstrous.com/manticore.htm

Menhit Another ancient Egyptian deity, Menhit means "she who slaughters". Menhit is the wife of Chnum and together they had a son named Hike. The threesome were worshipped as a trinity in the city of Latopolis. They were called the Esna Triad. Like other gods of war, Menhit was thought to ride ahead of the army, slaughtering enemies.

Image: none found

Narasingha: Narasingha, the man-lion, is the fourth incarnation of Vishnu.

Image: http://www.mayapur.org/galleries/4/deitiesnarasingha.htm

Ningirsu: Ningirsu was the god of fertility, rain and irrigation in ancient Sumer and Babylon. There is a temple dedicated to this god in the ancient city of Girsu. He is depicted as an eagle with a lion's head.

Image: http://courses.unc.edu/clar047/VultStNin.jpg

Pazuzu: Pazuzu is the ancient Mesopotamian demon who has the wings of an eagle, the tail of a scorpion and the claws of a lion. Pazuzu was known as the "king of the evil wind demons," but he was also often seen on amulets which were used as protection during childbirth.

Image: http://dontyson.tripod.com/pazuzu.html

Sekhmet: Sekhmet is a very powerful ancient Egyptian goddess of war and vengeance who was married to Ptah. She was worshipped in Memphis and Luxor. Her name means "powerful" and in battles she would breathe fire on the King's enemies. At one point, however, Sekhmet lost the plot and began a systematic slaughter of all humankind. Ra, fearing the death of all of humanity, intoxicated her with a blood colored beer which she believed to be real blood. She awoke slightly hung over but satiated of her need for further destruction.

Image: http://www.aelives.com/gods.htm#s

Sphinx: The Sphinx is perhaps the most well know of the leonine creatures. It is found in both ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology and appears in many stories, the most famous being Oedipus Rex. The Sphinx is a combination of a lion's body with the head of a man. In Greek legend, the sphinx also has wings. The word sphinx comes from the Greek sphingo which means to strangle. Sphinxs guarded tombs and treasure and symbolizes abundance, power, wisdom, riddles, truth and secrets.

Image: http://www.monstrous.com/sphinx.htm

Yali: This is a mythical Indian creature with the body of a lion and the head of an elephant.

Image: http://www.gosai.com/chaitanya/saranagati/html/nmj_articles/sacred_architecture/vastu-shastra-2.html

Sources: http://dontyson.tripod.com/pazuzu.html

If I missed any, please /msg me and I will add them.

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