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Hercules (, ) is the Roman equivalent of the Greek
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divine
hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through f ...
Heracles Heracles ( ; grc-gre, Ἡρακλῆς, , glory/fame of Hera Hera (; grc-gre, Ἥρα, Hḗrā; grc, Ἥρη, Hḗrē, label=none in Ionic Ionic or Ionian may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Ionic meter, a poetic metre in anci ...

Heracles
, son of
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
and the mortal
Alcmene In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature of t ...
. In
classical mythology Classical mythology, classical Greco-Roman mythology, Greek and Roman mythology or Greco-Roman mythology is both the body of and the study of myths from the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans as they are used or transformed by reception theory, cu ...
, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. The Romans adapted the Greek hero's
iconography Iconography, as a branch of art history, studies the identification, description and interpretation of the content of images: the subjects depicted, the particular compositions and details used to do so, and other elements that are distinct fro ...

iconography
and myths for their literature and art under the name ''Hercules''. In later
Western art ''; by Johannes Vermeer Johannes Vermeer ( , , #Pronunciation of name, see below; October 1632 – December 1675) was a Dutch Baroque Period Painting, painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle class life. During his lifetime, ...
and literature and in
popular culture Popular culture (also called mass culture or pop culture) is generally recognized by members of a society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...
, ''Hercules'' is more commonly used than ''Heracles'' as the name of the hero. Hercules is a multifaceted figure with contradictory characteristics, which enabled later artists and writers to pick and choose how to represent him. This article provides an introduction to representations of Hercules in the later tradition.


Mythology


Birth and early life

In Roman mythology, although Hercules was seen as the champion of the weak and a great protector, his personal problems started at birth.
Juno Juno commonly refers to: *Juno (mythology), the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods *Juno (film), ''Juno'' (film), 2007 Juno may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters *Juno, in the film ''Jenny, Juno'' *Jun ...
sent two witches to prevent the birth, but they were tricked by one of
Alcmene In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Cosmology#Metaphysical cosmology, nature of t ...
's servants and sent to another room. Juno then sent
serpents
 serpents
to kill him in his cradle, but Hercules strangled them both. In one version of the myth, Alcmene abandoned her baby in the woods in order to protect him from Juno's wrath, but he was found by the goddess
Minerva Minerva (; ett, Menrva) is the Roman goddess Roman mythology is the body of of as represented in the and . One of a wide variety of genres of , ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to ...

Minerva
who brought him to Juno, claiming he was an orphan child left in the woods who needed nourishment. Juno suckled Hercules at her own breast until the infant bit her nipple, at which point she pushed him away, spilling her milk across the night sky and so forming the
Milky Way The Milky Way is the galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass Mass is both a property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and con ...

Milky Way
. She then gave the infant back to Minerva and told her to take care of the baby herself. In feeding the child from her own breast, the goddess inadvertently imbued him with further strength and power.


The 12 Labours

Hercules is known for his many adventures, which took him to the far reaches of the
Greco-Roman world The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, refers to geographical regions and countries that culturally—and so historically—were ...
. One cycle of these adventures became
canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geo ...
as the "Twelve Labours", but the list has variations. One traditional order of the labours is found in the '' Bibliotheca'' as follows: # Slay the
Nemean Lion The Nemean lion (; grc-gre, Νεμέος λέων ''Neméos léōn''; la, Leo Nemeaeus) was a vicious monster in Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Anc ...
. # Slay the nine-headed
Lernaean Hydra The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna ( grc-gre, Λερναῖα Ὕδρα, ''Lernaîa Hýdra''), more often known simply as the Hydra, is a serpent Serpent or The Serpent may refer to: * Snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous ...
. # Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis. # Capture the Erymanthian Boar. # Clean the Augean stables in a single day. # Slay the
Stymphalian Birds The Stymphalian birds ( ; grc, Στυμφαλίδες ὄρνιθες, Modern transliteration ''Stymfalídes Órnithes'') are a group of voracious birds in Greek mythology. The birds' appellation is derived from their dwelling in a swamp in Stymp ...
. # Capture the Cretan Bull. # Steal the
Mares of Diomedes The Mares of Diomedes ( grc-gre, Διομήδους ἵπποι), also called the Mares of Thrace, were a herd of man-eating horses The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated odd-toed ungulate mammal Mammals (from Latin la ...
. # Obtain the girdle of
Hippolyta In Classical Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief ...
, Queen of the
Amazons In Greek mythology, the Amazons (Ancient Greek: Ἀμαζόνες ''Amazónes'', singular Ἀμαζών ''Amazōn'') are portrayed in a number of ancient Greek, ancient epic poems and legends, such as the Labours of Hercules, the ''Argonautica ...

Amazons
. # Obtain the cattle of the monster
Geryon In , Geryon ( or ;"Geryon"
'
also Geryone; grc-gre, Γηρυών,Also Γηρυόνης ...
. # Steal the apples of the
Hesperides In Greek mythology, the Hesperides (; , ) are the nymphs of evening and golden light of sunsets, who were the "Daughters of the Evening" or "Nymphs of the West". They were also called the Atlantides () from their reputed father, the Titan (mytho ...

Hesperides
. # Capture and bring back
Cerberus In Greek mythology, Cerberus (; grc-gre, Κέρβερος ''Kérberos'' ), often referred to as the hound of Hades, is a polycephaly, multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. He was the offsprin ...

Cerberus
.


Side adventures

Hercules had a greater number of " deeds on the side" ''(parerga)'' that have been popular subjects for art, including: File:Hercules killing Cacus at his Cave.jpg, Killing a fire-breathing
Cacus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or g ...
(
Sebald Beham '', 1543, 82 x 56 mm. Sebald Beham (1500–1550) was a German painter and Printmaking, printmaker, mainly known for his very small engraving '' (1514), an engraving by Northern Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer Engraving is the practice o ...
, 1545) File:Taten des Herakles dt 16Jh Atlas.jpg, Holding up the sky for
Atlas Blaeu's world map, originally prepared by Joan Blaeu for his ''Atlas Maior">Joan_Blaeu.html" ;"title="world map, originally prepared by Joan Blaeu">world map, originally prepared by Joan Blaeu for his ''Atlas Maior'', published in the first b ...

Atlas
(based on
Heinrich Aldegrever Heinrich Aldegrever or Aldegraf (1502–1555, 1558 or 1561) was a German painter and engraver. He was one of the "Little Masters", the group of German artists making small old master prints in the generation after Albrecht Dürer. Biography Paint ...
, 1550) File:Annibale Fontana - Plaque with Hercules and Achelous - Walters 4171.jpg, Wrestling with
Achelous 300px, Achelous was often reduced to a bearded mask, an inspiration for the medieval Zeugma, Turkey. In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, mythology, Achelous (also Acheloos or Acheloios) (; Ancient Greek: Ἀχελώϊος, and later ...

Achelous
(16th-century plaque) File:Herakles Antaeus Couder decoration Louvre INV3378.jpg, Fighting the giant
Antaeus Antaeus (; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: M ...
(
Auguste Couder Louis-Charles-Auguste Couder or Auguste Couder (1 April 1789, in London – 21 July 1873, in Paris) was a French painter and student of Jean-Baptiste Regnault and Jacques-Louis David. He joined the Académie des beaux-arts in 1839 and was an office ...
, 1819) File:L'Enlèvement, par Paul Cézanne.jpg, Retrieving
Alcestis Alcestis (; Ancient Greek: Ἄλκηστις, ') or Alceste, was a princess in Greek mythology, known for her love of her Admetus, husband. Her life story was told by pseudo-Apollodorus in his ''Bibliotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus), Bibliotheca'', and ...
from the underworld (
Paul Cézanne Paul Cézanne ( , , ; ; 19 January 1839 – 22 October 1906) was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically di ...

Paul Cézanne
, 1867) File:Prometheus and Hercules.jpg, Freeing
Prometheus In , Prometheus (; , , possibly meaning "")Smith"Prometheus". is a god of fire. Prometheus is best known for defying the gods by from them and giving it to humanity in the form of technology, knowledge, and more generally, . In some versions ...

Prometheus
(
Christian Griepenkerl Christian Griepenkerl (17 March 1839 – 22 March 1916) was a German painter and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Biography Griepenkerl was born to one of Oldenburg's leading families. As a young man, he heeded the advice of his fell ...

Christian Griepenkerl
, 1878) File:Pieter paul rubens, ercole e i leone nemeo, 02.JPG, ''Hercules fighting the Nemean lion'' by
Peter Paul Rubens Sir Peter Paul Rubens (; ; 28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Geneti ...

Peter Paul Rubens
File:Antonio del Pollaiolo - Ercole e l'Idra e Ercole e Anteo - Google Art Project.jpg, ''Hercules and the Hydra'' (c. 1475) by
Antonio del Pollaiuolo Antonio del Pollaiuolo ( , , ; 17 January 1429/14334 February 1498), also known as Antonio di Jacopo Pollaiuolo or Antonio Pollaiuolo (also spelled Pollaiolo), was an Italian people, Italian List of Italian painters, painter, sculpture, sculptor, ...
; the hero wears his characteristic lionskin and wields a club File:Heracles and the Erymantian boar.jpg, Hercules capturing the Erymanthian Boar, by J.M. Félix Magdalena (b. 1941) File:Herakles strangling snakes Louvre G192.jpg, The infant Hercules (
Heracles Heracles ( ; grc-gre, Ἡρακλῆς, , glory/fame of Hera Hera (; grc-gre, Ἥρα, Hḗrā; grc, Ἥρη, Hḗrē, label=none in Ionic Ionic or Ionian may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Ionic meter, a poetic metre in anci ...

Heracles
) strangling the snakes sent by the goddess
Hera Hera (; grc-gre, Ἥρα, Hḗrā; grc, Ἥρη, Hḗrē, label=none in Ionic Ionic or Ionian may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Ionic meter, a poetic metre in ancient Greek and Latin poetry * Ionian mode, a musical mode or a diatonic s ...

Hera
(a woman protects Iphikles on the right); detail from an Attic red-figured ''
stamnos A stamnos (plural stamnoi) is a type of Greek pottery used to store liquids. It is much squatter than an amphora An amphora (; grc, ἀμφορεύς, ''amphoreús''; English plural: amphorae or amphoras) is a type of container with a poi ...

stamnos
'' from
Vulci Vulci or Volci (Etruscan language, Etruscan: ''Velch'' or ''Velx'', depending on the romanization used) was a rich and important Etruscan civilization, Etruscan city. As George Dennis (explorer), George Dennis wrote, "Vulci is a city whose very n ...

Vulci
,
Etruria Etruria () was a region of Central Italy Central Italy ( it, Italia centrale or just ) is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ) ...

Etruria
, Italy, File:Atlas pasa a Heracles la esfera celeste.jpg, Hercules supports the sky so that Atlas will bring him the golden apples of the Hesperides by J. M. Félix Magdalena


Death


Roman era

The
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
name ''Hercules'' was borrowed through
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
, where it is represented variously as Heracle, Hercle, and other forms. Hercules was a favorite subject for
Etruscan art Etruscan art was produced by the Etruscan civilization in central Italy between the 10th and 1st centuries BC. From around 750 BC it was heavily influenced by Greek art, which was imported by the Etruscans, but always retained distinct characteri ...
, and appears often on
bronze mirror Bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals (such as aluminum, manganese, nickel or zinc) and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, ph ...

bronze mirror
s. The Etruscan form ''Herceler'' derives from the Greek ''Heracles'' via
syncope Syncope may refer to: * Syncope (medicine), also known as fainting * Syncope (phonology), the loss of one or more sounds, particularly an unstressed vowel, from the interior of a word * Syncopation, a musical effect caused by off-beat or otherwise ...
. A mild oath invoking Hercules (''Hercule!'' or ''Mehercle!'') was a common
interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction. It is a diverse category, encompassing many different parts of speech, such as exclamations ''(ouch!'', ''wow!''), curses ...
in
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
. Hercules had a number of
myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...
that were distinctly Roman. One of these is Hercules' defeat of
Cacus In Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or g ...
, who was terrorizing the countryside of Rome. The hero was associated with the
Aventine Hill The Aventine Hill (; la, Collis Aventinus; it, Aventino ) is one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legend ...
through his son Aventinus.
Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (14 January 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Ancient Rome, Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the Crisis of the Roman Republic, transformation of the Roman Republic f ...
considered him a personal patron god, as did the emperor
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn R ...

Commodus
. Hercules received various forms of religious veneration, including as a deity concerned with children and childbirth, in part because of myths about his precocious infancy, and in part because he fathered countless children. Roman brides wore a special belt tied with the " knot of Hercules", which was supposed to be hard to untie. The comic playwright
Plautus Titus Maccius Plautus (; c. 254 – 184 BC), commonly known as Plautus, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome ...

Plautus
presents the myth of Hercules' conception as a sex comedy in his play ''
Amphitryon Amphitryon (; Ancient Greek: Ἀμφιτρύων, ''gen''.: Ἀμφιτρύωνος; usually interpreted as "harassing either side", Latin: Amphitruo), in Greek mythology, was a son of Alcaeus (mythology), Alcaeus, king of Tiryns in Argolis. His ...
'';
Seneca Seneca may refer to: People and language *Seneca (name), a list of people with either the given name or surname *Seneca the Elder, a Roman rhetorician, writer and father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger *Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoi ...
wrote the tragedy ''Hercules Furens'' about his bout with madness. During the
Roman Imperial era
Roman Imperial era
, Hercules was worshipped locally from
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...

Hispania
through
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rat ...

Gaul
.


Germanic association

Tacitus Publius Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature Classi ...

Tacitus
records a special affinity of the
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
for Hercules. In chapter 3 of his ''
Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: ''Free Germania'') or Germanic Barbaricum Barbaricum (from the gr, Βαρβαρικόν, "foreign", "barbarian") is a geographical name used by ...
'', Tacitus states: Some have taken this as Tacitus equating the Germanic ''
Þunraz In Germanic mythology Germanic mythology consists of the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myth ...

Þunraz
'' with Hercules by way of ''interpretatio romana''. In the Roman era Hercules' Club amulets appear from the 2nd to 3rd century, distributed over the empire (including
Roman Britain Roman Britain is the period in classical antiquity when large parts of the island of Great Britain were under Roman conquest of Britain, occupation by the Roman Empire. The occupation lasted from AD 43 to AD 410. During that time, the ...

Roman Britain
, c.f. Cool 1986), mostly made of gold, shaped like wooden clubs. A specimen found in Köln-Nippes bears the inscription "DEO HER
uli ALi Corporation (also known as Acer Laboratories Incorporated or Acer Labs Inc., and commonly known as ALi) is a major designer and manufacturer of embedded systems An embedded system is a computer system A computer is a machine that c ...
, confirming the association with Hercules. In the 5th to 7th centuries, during the
Migration Period The Migration Period, also known as the Barbarian Invasions (from the Roman and Greek perspective), is a term sometimes used for the period in the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the ...
, the amulet is theorized to have rapidly spread from the
Elbe Germanic Elbe , german: Elbe, Low German: ''Ilv'' or ''Elv'' , name_etymology = , image = Labe_udoli.jpg , image_size = , image_caption = The Elbe (Labe) near Děčín, Czech Republic , map = Elbe ba ...
area across Europe. These Germanic "
Donar's Clubs
Donar's Clubs
" were made from deer antler, bone or wood, more rarely also from bronze or precious metals. The amulet type is replaced by the
Viking Age The Viking Age (793–1066 AD) was the period during the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation o ...
Thor's hammer pendants in the course of the
Christianization of Scandinavia The Christianization of Scandinavia, as well as other Nordic countries The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultu ...
from the 8th to 9th century.


Medieval mythography

After the Roman Empire became
Christianized Christianization ( or Christianisation) is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and througho ...
, mythological narratives were often reinterpreted as
allegory As a literary device A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. However, the b ...

allegory
, influenced by the philosophy of
late antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Inst ...
. In the 4th century,
Servius Servius is the name of: * Servius (praenomen) Servius () is a Latin ''praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the '' dies lustricus'' (day of lustration ...
had described Hercules' return from the underworld as representing his ability to overcome earthly desires and vices, or the earth itself as a consumer of bodies. In medieval mythography, Hercules was one of the heroes seen as a strong role model who demonstrated both valor and wisdom, while the monsters he battles were regarded as moral obstacles. One
glossator The scholars of the 11th- and 12th-century legal schools in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Al ...
noted that when Hercules became a constellation, he showed that strength was necessary to gain entrance to Heaven. Medieval mythography was written almost entirely in Latin, and original Greek texts were little used as sources for Hercules' myths.


Renaissance mythography

The
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
and the invention of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in wate ...
brought a renewed interest in and publication of Greek literature. Renaissance mythography drew more extensively on the Greek tradition of Heracles, typically under the Romanized name Hercules, or the alternate name
Alcides
Alcides
. In a chapter of his book ''Mythologiae'' (1567), the influential mythographer Natale Conti collected and summarized an extensive range of myths concerning the birth, adventures, and death of the hero under his Roman name Hercules. Conti begins his lengthy chapter on Hercules with an overview description that continues the moralizing impulse of the Middle Ages:
Hercules, who subdued and destroyed monsters, bandits, and criminals, was justly famous and renowned for his great courage. His great and glorious reputation was worldwide, and so firmly entrenched that he'll always be remembered. In fact the ancients honored him with his own temples, altars, ceremonies, and priests. But it was his wisdom and great soul that earned those honors; noble blood, physical strength, and political power just aren't good enough.
In 1600, the citizens of
Avignon Avignon (, ; ; oc, Avinhon, label= Provençal or , ; la, Avenio) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. L ...

Avignon
bestowed on
Henry of Navarre , house = Bourbon , father = Antoine of Navarre , house = Bourbon , father = Charles, Duke of Vendôme , mother = Françoise of Alençon , religion = ''See details'' Antoine (in Engli ...
(the future King
Henry IV of France Henry IV (french: Henri IV; 13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610), also known by the epithet Good King Henry or Henry the Great, was King of Navarre (as Henry III) from 1572 and King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first monarch of Franc ...

Henry IV of France
) the title of the ''Hercule Gaulois'' ("Gallic Hercules"), justifying the extravagant flattery with a genealogy that traced the origin of the House of Navarre to a nephew of Hercules' son Hispalus.


Worship


Road of Hercules

The Road of Hercules is a route across Southern Gaul that is associated with the path Hercules took during his 10th labor of retrieving the Cattle of Geryon from the Red Isles. Hannibal took the same path on his march towards Italy and encouraged the belief that he was the second Hercules. Primary sources often make comparisons between Hercules and Hannibal. Hannibal further tried to invoke parallels between himself and Hercules by starting his march on Italy by visiting the shrine of Hercules at Gades. While crossing the alps, he performed labors in a heroic manner. A famous example was noted by Livy, when Hannibal fractured the side of a cliff that was blocking his march.


Worship from women

In ancient Roman society women were usually limited to two types of cults: those that addressed feminine matters such as childbirth, and cults that required virginal chastity. However, there is evidence suggesting there were female worshippers of Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Hercules. Some scholars believe that women were completely prohibited from any of Hercules's cults. Others believe it was only the "Ara Maxima" at which they were not allowed to worship.
Macrobius Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, usually referred to as Macrobius (fl. AD 400), was a Roman provincial who lived during the early fifth century, during Late Antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study ...

Macrobius
in his first book of ''Saturnalia'' paraphrases from Varro: ''"For when Hercules was bringing the cattle of Geryon through Italy, a woman replied to the thirsty hero that she could not give him water because it was the day of the Goddess Women and it was unlawful for a man to taste what had been prepared for her. Hercules, therefore, when he was about to offer a sacrifice forbid the presence of women and ordered Potitius and Pinarius who where in charge of his rites, not to allow any women from taking part"''. Macrobius states that women were restricted in their participation in Hercules cults, but to what extent remains ambiguous. He mentions that women were not allowed to participate in Sacrum which is general term used to describe anything that was believed to have belonged to the gods. This could include anything from a precious item to a temple. Due to the general nature of a Sacrum, we can not judge the extent of the prohibition from Macrobius alone. There are also ancient writings on this topic from Aulus Gellius when speaking on how Romans swore oaths. He mentioned that Roman women do not swear on Hercules, nor do Roman men swear on Castor. He went on to say that women refrain from sacrificing to Hercules. Propertius in his poem 4.9 also mentions similar information as Macrobius. This is evidence that he was also using Varro as a source.


Worship in myth

There is evidence of Hercules worship in myth in the Latin epic poem, the ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
''. In the 8th book of the poem
Aeneas In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (, ; from Greek language, Greek: Αἰνείας, ''Aineíās'') was a Trojan hero, the son of the Trojan prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite (equivalent to the Roman Venus (mythology), Venus). His father ...
finally reaches the future site of Rome, where he meets Evander and the Arcadians making sacrifices to Hercules on the banks of the Tiber river. They share a feast, and Evander tells the story of how Hercules defeated the monster Cascus, and describes him as a triumphant hero. Translated from the Latin text of Vergil, Evander stated: "Time brought to us in our time of need the aid and arrival of a god. For there came that mightiest avenger, the victor Hercules, proud with the slaughter and the spoils of threefold Geryon, and he drove the mighty bulls here, and the cattle filled both valley and riverside. Hercules was also mentioned in the Fables of
Gaius Julius Hyginus Gaius Julius Hyginus (; 64 BC – AD 17) was a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
. For example, in his fable about
Philoctetes Philoctetes ( grc, Φιλοκτήτης ''Philoktētēs''; English pronunciation: , stress (linguistics), stressed on the third syllable, ''-tet-''), or Philocthetes, according to Greek mythology, was the son of Poeas, king of Meliboea in Thess ...

Philoctetes
he tells the story of how Philoctetes built a funeral pyre for Hercules so his body could be consumed and raised to immortality.


Hercules and the Roman triumph

According to Livy (9.44.16) Romans were commemorating military victories by building statues to Hercules as early as 305 BCE. Also, philosopher
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, includi ...

Pliny the Elder
dates Hercules worship back to the time of Evander, by accrediting him with erecting a statue in the Forum Boarium of Hercules. Scholars agree that there would have been 5–7 temples in Augustan Rome. There are believed to be related Republican ''triumphatores,'' however, not necessarily triumphal dedications. There is two temples located in the Campus Martius. One, being the Temple of Hercules Musarum, dedicated between 187 and 179 BCE by M. Fulvius Nobilior. And the other being the Temple of Hercules Custos, likely renovated by Sulla in the 80s BCE.


In art

In Roman works of art and in Renaissance and post-Renaissance art, Hercules can be identified by his attributes, the lion skin and the gnarled
club Club may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Club (magazine), ''Club'' (magazine) * Club, a ''Yie Ar Kung-Fu'' character * Clubs (suit), a suit of playing cards * Club music * "Club", by Kelsea Ballerini from the album ''kelsea'' Brands an ...
(his favorite weapon); in
mosaic A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly pop ...

mosaic
he is shown tanned bronze, a virile aspect.''Hercules'' almost suggests "Hero". The Classical and Hellenistic convention in frescoes and mosaics, adopted by the Romans, is to show women as pale-skinned and men as tanned dark from their outdoor arena of action and exercising in the
gymnasium Gymnasium may refer to: *Gymnasium (ancient Greece), educational and sporting institution *Gymnasium (school), type of secondary school that prepares students for higher education **Gymnasium (Denmark) **Gymnasium (Germany) **Gymnasium UNT, high ...
.(See als
Reed.edu
jpg file
Reed.edu
subject).
In the twentieth century, the ''
Farnese Hercules The ''Farnese Hercules'' ( it, Ercole Farnese) is an ancient statue of Hercules, probably an enlarged copy made in the early third century AD and signed by Glykon, who is otherwise unknown; the name is Greek but he may have worked in Rome. Like m ...
'' has inspired artists such as
Jeff Koons Jeffrey Lynn Koons (; born January 21, 1955) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), ...
, Matthew Darbyshire and
Robert Mapplethorpe Robert Michael Mapplethorpe (; November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) was an American photographer, best known for his black-and-white photographs. His work featured an array of subjects, including celebrity portraits, male and female nudes, self- ...
to reinterpret Hercules for new audiences. The choice of deliberately white materials by Koons and Darbyshire has been interpreted as perpetuation of colourism in how the classical world is viewed. Mapplethorpe's work with black model Derrick Cross can be seen as a reaction to neo-classical colourism, resisting the portrayal of Hercules as white.


Roman era

File:Heracles Pio-Clementino Inv252.jpg, ''
Hercules of the Forum Boarium Hercules () is the Roman equivalent of the Greek divinity, divine hero Heracles, son of Jupiter (mythology), Jupiter and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. ...
'' (Hellenistic, 2nd century BCE) File:Affresco romano eracle ebbro e onfale.JPG, Hercules drunk and Omphale. Fresco from House of the Prince of Montenegro, Pompeii, 25-35 CE File:Hercules Nessus MAN Napoli Inv9001.jpg, Hercules carrying his son Hyllus looks at the centaur Nessus (mythology), Nessus, who is about to carry Deianira across the river on his back. Fresco from Pompeii, 30-45 CE File:Herculaneum Collegio degli Augustali Ercole sull'Olimpo.jpg, Hercules in Olympus with
Juno Juno commonly refers to: *Juno (mythology), the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods *Juno (film), ''Juno'' (film), 2007 Juno may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters *Juno, in the film ''Jenny, Juno'' *Jun ...
and
Minerva Minerva (; ett, Menrva) is the Roman goddess Roman mythology is the body of of as represented in the and . One of a wide variety of genres of , ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the modern study of these representations, and to ...

Minerva
, fresco from Herculaneum, 1st century CE File:Hercules and Iolaus mosaic - Anzio Nymphaeum.jpg, Hercules and Iolaus (1st century CE mosaic from the Anzio Nymphaeum, Rome) File:Hercules Hatra Iraq Parthian period 1st 2nd century CE.jpg, Hercules (Hatra, Iraq, Parthian Empire, Parthian period, 1st–2nd century CE) File:Muze 001.jpg, Hercules bronze statuette, 2nd century CE (museum of Alanya, Turkey) File:Missorium Herakles lion Cdm Paris 56-345 n3.jpg, Hercules and the Nemean Lion (detail), silver Plate (dishware), plate, 6th century (Cabinet des Médailles, Paris) File:Affresco romano - eracle ed onfale - area vesuviana.JPG, Heracles and Omphale, Roman fresco, Pompeian Styles, Pompeian Fourth Style (45–79 CE), Naples National Archaeological Museum, Italy File:Tesoro di hildesheim, argento, I sec ac-I dc ca., piatto da parata con ercole bambino e i serpenti 01.JPG, A Roman gilded silver bowl depicting the boy Hercules strangling two serpents, from the Hildesheim Treasure, 1st century CE, Altes Museum File:Head from statue of Herakles (Hercules) Roman 117-188 CE from villa of the emperor Hadrian at Tivoli, Italy BM 2.jpg, Head from statue of Herakles (Hercules) Roman 117-188 CE from villa of the emperor Hadrian at Tivoli, Italy at the British Museum File:Herakles with the Apples of the Hesperides Roman 1st century CE from a temple at Byblos Lebanon BM.jpg, Hercules (Herakles) with the Apples of the Hesperides Roman 1st century CE from a temple at Byblos, Lebanon at the British Museum File:Hercules from Cappadocia or Caesarea 1st century BCE - 1st century CE Walters Art Museum.jpg, Hercules from Cappadocia or Caesarea 1st century BCE - 1st century CE, Walters Art Museum File:Hercules slaying the Hydra Roman copy of 4th century BCE original by Lysippos Capitoline Museum.jpg, Hercules slaying the Hydra Roman copy of 4th century BCE original by Lysippos, Capitoline Museum File:Hercules Roman 1st century BCE - 1st century CE Walters Art Museum.jpg, Hercules Roman 1st century BCE - 1st century CE, Walters Art Museum File:Herakles and Telephos Louvre MR219.jpg, Herakles and Telephos Louvre MR219 File:Ercole seduto (epitrapezios), 50 ac-50 dc ca., con braccia, clava e gambe sotto il ginocchio di restauro 02.JPG, Hercules, 50 BCE-50 CE, MAN Florence


Modern era

File:Hendrik Goltzius, The Great Hercules, 1589, NGA 70311.jpg, ''The Giant Hercules'' (1589) by Hendrik Goltzius File:Lucas Faydherbe, Buste van Hercules - Buste d'Hercule, KBS-FRB.jpg, Lucas Faydherbe, Bust of Hercules – collection King Baudouin Foundation File:Peter Paul Rubens cat01.jpg, ''The Drunken Hercules'' (1612–1614) by Rubens File:HerculeDejanire.jpg, ''Hercules and Deianira'' (18th century copy of a lost original), from I Modi File:Brooklyn Museum - Les Écuries d'Augias - Honoré Daumier.jpg, Hercules in the Augean stable (1842, Honoré Daumier) File:Hercules Comic Cover.JPG, Hercules (comics), Comic book cover (c. 1958) File:Bartholomäus Spranger - Hercules, Deianira and the Centaur Nessus - Google Art Project.jpg, ''Hercules, Deianira and the Centaur Nessus'', by Bartholomäus Spranger, 1580–1582 File:Henry IV en Herculeus terrassant l Hydre de Lerne cad La ligue Catholique Atelier Toussaint Dubreuil circa 1600.jpg,
Henry IV of France Henry IV (french: Henri IV; 13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610), also known by the epithet Good King Henry or Henry the Great, was King of Navarre (as Henry III) from 1572 and King of France from 1589 to 1610. He was the first monarch of Franc ...

Henry IV of France
, as Hercules vanquishing the
Lernaean Hydra The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna ( grc-gre, Λερναῖα Ὕδρα, ''Lernaîa Hýdra''), more often known simply as the Hydra, is a serpent Serpent or The Serpent may refer to: * Snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous ...
(i.e. the Catholic League (French), Catholic League), by Toussaint Dubreuil, c. 1600. Louvre Museum File:Herakles pyre Coustou Louvre MR1809.jpg, Hercules on the Pyre by Guillaume Coustou The Elder, 1704, Louvre MR1809


In numismatics

Hercules was among the earliest figures on ancient Roman coinage, and has been the main motif of many collector coins and medals since. One example is the Euro gold and silver commemorative coins (Austria)#2002 coinage, 20 euro Baroque Silver coin issued on September 11, 2002. The obverse side of the coin shows the Grand Staircase in the town palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy in Vienna, currently the Austrian Ministry of Finance. Gods and demi-gods hold its flights, while Hercules stands at the turn of the stairs. File:Æ Triens 2710028.jpg,
Juno Juno commonly refers to: *Juno (mythology), the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods *Juno (film), ''Juno'' (film), 2007 Juno may also refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional characters *Juno, in the film ''Jenny, Juno'' *Jun ...
, with Hercules fighting a Centaur on reverse (Roman, 215–15 BCE) File:Denarius Publius Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus 1 Obverse.jpg, Club over his shoulder on a Roman denarius (c. 100 BCE) File:MAXIMINUS II-RIC VI 77-251201.jpg, Maximinus II and Hercules with club and lionskin (Roman, 313 CE) File:5 French francs Hercule de Dupré 1996 F346-2 obverse.jpg, Commemorative franc (France), 5-franc piece (1996), Hercules in center File:Caracalla Denarius Hercules RIC192.jpg, Hercules, as seen on a Denarius of the Roman Emperor Caracalla. Dated 212 CE


Military

Six successive ships of the British Royal Navy, from the 18th to the 20th century, bore the name HMS Hercules, HMS ''Hercules''. In the French Navy, there were no less than nineteen ships called ''French ship Hercule , Hercule'', plus three more named ''HMS Alcide, Alcide'' which is another name of the same hero. Hercules' name was also used for five ships of the US Navy, four ships of the Spanish Navy, four of the Argentine Navy and two of the Swedish Navy, as well as for numerous civilian sailing and steam ships – see links at Hercules (ship). In modern aviation a military transport aircraft produced by Lockheed Martin carries the title Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Operation Herkules was the German code-name given to an abortive plan for the invasion of Malta during the Second World War.


Other cultural references

File:PillarsHerculesPeutingeriana.jpg, Pillars of Hercules, representing the Strait of Gibraltar (19th-century conjecture of the ''Tabula Peutingeriana'') File:Maczuga Herkulesa (background Castle Pieskowa Skała).jpg, ''Maczuga Herkulesa, The Cudgel of Hercules'', a tall limestone rock formation, with Pieskowa Skała, Pieskowa Skała Castle in the background File:Royal Coat of Arms of Greece.svg, Hercules as Supporter, heraldic supporters in the Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Greece, royal arms of Greece, in use 1863–1973. The phrase "Ηρακλείς του στέμματος" ("Defenders of the Crown") has pejorative connotations ("chief henchmen") in Greek.


In films

A series of nineteen Italian Hercules movies were made in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The actors who played Hercules in these films were Steve Reeves, Gordon Scott, Kirk Morris, Mickey Hargitay, Mark Forest, Alan Steel, Dan Vadis, Brad Harris, Reg Park, Peter Lupus (billed as Rock Stevens) and Michael Lane. A number of English-dubbed Italian films that featured the name of Hercules in their title were not intended to be movies about Hercules.


See also

* Hercules (comics) * Hercules in popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries * Sword-and-sandal * Hercules: The Legendary Journeys * Strength (Tarot card) * Samson * Gilgamesh * Demigod * Persian Hercules


References

;Notes ;Sources * Charlotte Coffin
"Hercules"
in Peyré, Yves (ed.) ''A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology'' (2009) * Bertematti, Richard (2014)
"The Heracliad: The Epic Saga of Hercules"
(Tridium Press).


External links

* * {{Authority control Heracles Heroes in mythology and legend Children of Zeus Metamorphoses characters Characters in Roman mythology