Bronze statuettes were popular across the Roman Empire, usually modelled in the shape of gods, goddesses and animals. Such statuettes could have been part of private households or placed in temples as votive offerings. The lion had an important role in Roman mythology, since it was associated with the god Hercules. Notoriously, lions were integral to the form of capital punishment known as ‘damnatio ad bestias’, whereby condemned criminals were pitted against the beasts. Lions were also sought out by Roman army units as a pastime when not at war – the process of capturing the beasts is recorded in several Roman mosaics.