Modeled on the famous coins of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian leader (336 - 323 B.C.) is shown wearing a lion's skin in imitation of the one worn by Hercules. Alexander identified himself with the Greek hero who, as one of his twelve labors, killed the Nemean lion and used the scalp as a helmet. Being associated symbolically with a deity, especially one of great strength and skill, was a means by which a ruler could establish his own legendary status. However, Alexander's successes even rivaled those of the mythical god in his establishment of a vast kingdom and the spread of Hellenistic culture that still resonates today. The beauty of this cameo reflects a centuries old tradition of superb artistry in the carving of gems.