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We often see the image of the rampant lion used as a symbol in heraldry and other places. I understand the significance of the lion, and I am aware that ancient art often incorporated the lion, but the rampant lion as mentioned is a very specific representation of the animal.

Today we call the different lion poses by different names and ascribe to each of them different meaning, but at some time in the past these names and associated meanings did not exist. I therefore would see no issue with any one entity using a rampant lion as a symbol, but its perseverance is so common that I wonder where the copy-cat idea started.

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Excursus: the lion is so common in heraldry, which caused the saying "Chi non ha un blasone, ha un leone", meaning "Whoever has no coat of harms, has (i.e. will create one containing) a lion" – o0'. Feb 23 '12 at 17:22
Presumably any knight heading into battle with a shield bearing a "kitten dormant" didn't produce quite the level of fear and awe he expected? – none Feb 24 '12 at 16:14
@none I so want a kitten dormant on my shield. As opposed to on my lap, when I was just about to get up and go somewhere ;) – Owen Blacker Feb 26 '15 at 16:08
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I am only guessing, but I would imagine that part of the popularity of the attitude of lions rampant (so once you allow for the relatively obvious reasons for choosing a lion as opposed to some other animal) might just be that it fits a shield or the breastpiece of a tabard nicely. All the other attitudes (except salient, maybe) are less optimised to the tall-and-narrow proportions and leave lots more space that needs filling:

Argent a lion sable Two lions passant Azure, a lion sejant regardant (cowardly?) or, holding a chi-rho staff labelled Civ Arel Or, a lion statant gules, crowned and langued azure, on a triple-peaked mountain azure, with a rock(?) argent in base Argent a lion cochant gules

(The order above being rampant, passant, sejant, statant, couchant; I couldn't find a decent image of salient, unfortunately.)

Equally, of course (and giving a reason to prefer rampant over salient), it's the most aggressive fighting stance of the leonine attitudes, which I guess would have an obvious appeal, given the context.

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Thank you, it is exactly the attitude of being rampant that I was wondering about. Your explanation does sound plausible, as the rampant lion surely fills the shape of the shield well. Thanks! – dotancohen Feb 26 '12 at 14:55

The rampant lion was the symbol of king Richard the lion heart

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