The Lion of Chearonea was erected after the battle of the same name (338 B.C), between the forces of Phillip II of Macedon and the combined forces of the Athenians, Thebans, Corinthians, and their allies.
The battle ended with triumph for Phillip II, and severe casualties for his enemies. It is believed that more than 1.000 people died from the Athens alone. According to Pausanias, the lion was erected by the Thebans to commemorate their fallen. Under the monument, archaelogists unearthed a mass grave of 254 people, now identified as members of the military unit known as “The Sacred Band of Thebes.”
The 20-foot-tall monument marks the rather unlucky fields of Chearonea, which became the site of many more historical battles. In 146 B.C. Roman general Matellus defeated an army of Arkadians. Sixty years later, Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla defeated the armies of Mithridates VI of Pontus. The Catalans and Franks faced off there in 1311. And then the Greeks and Turks in 1823 and 1825 during the Greek Revolution.
The monument was found in pieces, and restored to its full height in the early 20th century. The lion is one of the oldest standing war memorials of Greece.