An item up at Fortean Times about Ernst Chladni caught my eye a couple of days ago because it included this paragraph:
In fairness to the Age of Reason’s meteorite debunkers, an awful lot of superstition and folk tales fell from the sky. The large meteor that came down on Ensisheim, Alsace, in 1492 was housed in the local church as an example of the “wrath of God”, while practically any stones that looked odd – from fossil shark’s teeth to prehistoric flint tools – were touted as “thunderstones” that had fallen during thunderstorms. The statue of the goddess Diana at Ephesus (probably carved from a meteorite) “fell from the sky”, as did the Nemean Lion, which Hercules had to defeat as the first of his 12 Labours (an association preserved in the constellation of Leo and the Leonid meteor shower). The Council of Claremont in France, which proclaimed the First Crusade in 1095, was preceded by portents including an ominous shower of meteors.
We should point out that the claim about the image of Diana ‘falling from the sky’ only appears in the Acts of the Apostles (19.35), as far as I’m aware, and otherwise I think the image most of us associate with Ephesus was originally made of wood. The second assertion made above — about the Nemean Lion somehow being associated with a meteor shower — is a new one to me, although one can follow a line of thinking which would go something like: Constellation Leo (which the Greeks associated with the Nemean Lion) -> Leonid meteor shower -> Nemean Lion as meteorite. Fred Schaff’s The Starry Room mentions in passing:
Gertrude and James Jobes mention a version of the tale of Hercules in which his foe the Nemean Lion is said to have fallen from the moon (“in the form of a meteor”, the Jobeses write).
This is presumably from the Jobes’ Outer Space: Myths, Names, Meanings, Calendars, which I do not have access to. Has anyone read of a version of the Nemean Lion tale which does make this lion-meteorite connection?