IS THE MYTHOF HERCULES SO LONG-LASTING
DO WE FINDHIMPORTRAYEDIN CERTAIN
MESSAGE DOES HE CONVEY?
What is this marble group?Where do you think it is?
The building at the back is…It dates back to….
A ROYAL PALACE
THE STOCK EXCHANGE
THE ROMAN EMPIRE
THE MIDDLE AGES
THE 17TH CENTURY
THE 19TH CENTURY
Michaelertor (St. Michael’s Gate), Hofburg, Vienna
St. Michael’s Wing is a later addition to the Imperial Palace in Vienna. It was
originally designed in the 1720s by Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, but
construction really started in 1888, following von Erlach's original Baroque
design, and was completed in 1893.
WHY ARE THE LABOURS OF HERCULES REPRESENTED
IN THAT LOCATION?
The Emperor’sname was Hercules
An ancient statue was found in this place
Classical art was a source of inspiration
The sculptorwas Greek
Herculessymbolizes ferocityand strength
Herculessymbolizes power and virtue
It shows that the Emperor prevailed on all opponents
EFFIGES OF HERCULES
Where wouldyou expect
to see these bas reliefs?
On the façade of a Church
a Royal Palace
the Stock Exchange
KEY St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice
The Virgin Archangel
St. George St. Demetrius
It may seem strange to findHeracles/Hercules
performing his Labours on the façade of a
basilica, flanking two saints andthe
A pagan hero portrayedin a holy place.
But you may notice that
•the two saints are carrying weapons: two warrior saints,
St. George and St. Demetrius, in the fight against evil
•the Annunciation alludes to the legendaryfounding of Venice on 25th March
•the main central piece is the Last Judgement flanked by the Passion, Deathand
Resurrectionof Christ in the lunettes at the sides and the History of the Relics of St.
•the west façade introduces the message amplified in the mosaics of the interior:
the possession of St. Mark’s relics
The whole façade speaks of triumph, rule and riches.
In the Middle Ages, pagan themes were transformed into Christian terms: the
mythological tale of Hercules, victorious over animal strength, became
an allegory of Christian salvation.
It claims observance of the ethical-religious virtues (personifications of the virtues)
and the ideals and regulations of civil coexistence (representations of months and
Remember this episode in young Heracles’ life
Because of his Choice, Hercules appears
in early Christian tombs and sarcophagi and in later works
as a symbol of virtue
fighting the enemies of Christianity.
ANNIBALE CARRACCI: THE CHOICE OF HERCULES
(Ercole al bivio)
Itaian Baroque, 1596 (Capodimonte Gallery of Naples)
Piazza della Signoria, Florence
Piazza della Signoria, Florence
PalazzoVecchio Loggia dei Lanzi
Palazzo Vecchio is lined withstatues with a distinctive historical
and political significance
The politics of the Medici and Florence dominate Piazza della Signoria
Every sculpture within it responds
politically and artistically to each other
and tell about the
Florentine Republic and the House of Medici.
The older statues point to the Florentine Republic and
The heraldiclion, seatedand
supporting Florence’s coat-of-arms
with one paw
Donatello’s renditionreplaced the
original in 1420
Apparentlythe first piece of public
secular sculpture commissionedby the
Republicof Florence in the late
Marzocco ca. 1377
Judithand Holofernes 1460
The bronze statue, commissioned by
Cosimo il Vecchio, was originally
standing in theMedici Palacebesides
Bothdepict tyrant slayers. They are the
symbol of liberty, virtue and victory of
the weak over the strong in a just cause.
When the Medici were exiled from
Florence in 1495, the sculpture was
placed on Piazza della Signoria.
Now it symbolized rebellion to the
The 4.34-metre marble statue of a
standing male nude representis
David, the Biblical hero who
defeatedthe giant Goliah.
Originally one of 12 large Old
Testament statues to be positioned
along the roofline of the Cathedral,
in 1504 it was eventually placed in
front of Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of
It symbolizes the defence of civil
liberties threatened by rival states
and by the hegemony of the Medici
Unlike earlier Renaissance
depictions of David, Michelangelo
omittedthe giant Goliathaltogether
and depictedthe little boy David as a
Davidis not shown victorious over a
foe muchlarger than he.
Michelangelo’s Davidis depicteda
moment before the battleactually
He looks tense and ready for
Thesethree works containimplicit
allusions of civil liberties and
After an 11-month siege theMedici
resumed their rule of the city, withthe
support of Emperor Charles V.
As a counterpart to Michelangelo’s David, Alexander wanted
themarble statue of Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli .
Alessandro de’Medici was appointed
"Duke of the Florentine Republic“.
The Statebecame a hereditaryDuchy.
The colossus (height 5.05 m)
was originally assignedto
Michelangelo but it was later
appropriatedby the Medici
familyas a symbol of their
renewed power after their first
return fromexilein 1512, and
again in 1530.
Hercules killing the fire-belching
monster Cacus on the Palatine hill,
Rome, returning fromhis tenth
labour: stealing Geryon’s cattle, is
the symbol of physical strength,
juxtaposedwithDavid as a symbol
of spiritual strength, both virtues
desiredby the Medici.
This marble group shows the basic
theme of the victor (the Medici)
The pause suggests the leniencyof
the Medici to thosewho would
concede to their rule, and a
warning to those who wouldnot,
as this pausecan be indefinite or
Bandinelli’s groupwas harshly criticised, first of all because Michelangelo’s talent
was unparalleledby Bandinelli, but also for political reasons, providedthat the
Medici family had dissolved the Florentine Republic and Bandinelli was under the
Benvenuto Cellini, a championof Michelangelo and rival of Bandinelli
referredto Hercules’ emphaticmusculature as "a sack full of melons,"
forgetting that Michelangelo had receivedsimilar deprecationpreviously
by Leonardo da Vinci.
To affirmthe Medici supremacy,
Alexander’s successor, Duke CosimoI
Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus and
The Perseus is an allegoryof the Medici
taking control over the Florentine rebellious
This is also a symbol of the Medici’s third
STATUES in PIAZZADELLASIGNORIA
Giambolognawas a Flemishartist,
influencedby Michelangeloand his
This reference to Greekmythology
shows the classicismof the time,
whenRenaissance artists tried to
bring back certainGreekand
Hercules and the Centaur Nessus. 1599
The statue was moved to the Loggia dei
Lanzi in 1812.
The centaur Nessus triedto steal
Hercules’ wife while carrying her
acrosstheriver. Hercules shot him
with a poisoned arrowand the
dying Centaur told Hercules’ wife
that his blood would keep Hercules
hers forever. Later, Hercule’s wife
became jealous of a womannamed
Lole, so she rubbedthe centaur’s
blood on Hercules’ tunic. The
blood was actually a poisonwhich
Hercules and the Centaur Nessus. 1599
ITALY IN THE RENAISSANCE
The rise of independent city-states resultedin political
THE HOUSE OF GONZAGA
FEDERICOII (Marquess1519–30, Duke1530-40)
The Gonzaga summer residence
Built by Giulio Romano between 1525 and 1535
A masterpiece of thelate Renaissance
A model of Classicism
GiulioRomano built a grandiose suburbanresidence, inspiredby Roman
for Federico II Gonzaga in the place where the family usedto breed their
At PalazzoTe Federico spent his time withhis mistress Isabella
Boschetti, the real love of his life
The privateresidence was also a state palace for the court official
In 1530 the Emperor Charles V was received here withgreat ceremony.
The only roomin the villaoriginallydefinedas a hall, due to its size and
feastsand balls were held here, like theone in honour of emperor Charles V
on his visitto Mantuain 1530.
The roomwas decorated between1525 and 1527.
THE HALL OF THE HORSES
The Hall testifies to the Gonzaga’s love for horses.
A horse was the finest gift a Gonzaga could give a friend, suchas Giulio
Romano, or a ruler, like emperor Charles V.
IN THE HALL....
Federico’s horses portrayedlife size against a background of distant
Classical architecture of faux marble Corinthian columns with a fireplace on the
Statues of deities and busts of dignitaries
Six of the labours of Hercules to imitate
Frieze withmale and female puttiand grotesque masks
WHY ARE THE LABOURS OF HERCUES DEPICTEDIN
Space for your ideas
fromPeterBurns On Becoming Immortal: The Life Of Heracles
His stories serve to educate people, not only entertain them
He shows that evenmortalscan achieve incredibleexploits
He was an example of strength, courage, confidence and tenacity
His tales are meantto educate young men right fromchildhood
Ancient Romans incorporatedhis legendinto their own mythology
He embodies hard workand toil, struggling to come out victorious
His travels took himto all corners of ancient Greece and Europe
He has to expiate his sins by undertaking the 12 Labours
He shows that all men strive for virtue and excellence
He was a troubledhero, unable to control his emotions and going into fits
He is a prime example of Andreia
[manliness, the essence of man, hisraw strengthand energy]
It is more in accord with nature to emulate
the great Hercules and undergo the
greatest toil and trouble for the sake of aiding
or saving the world, if possible, than to
live in seclusion.
— Ciceroin “On duty”
IN THE STUDENTS’ VIEW.....
Hercules makes you think that everyone can
He is an example of strength , courage and
tenacity for young people.
He has left his imprints in history and
The story about the 12 Labours is interesting
and joyful for every age: children, elderly
people, those who do not know about history.
Ancient Myth still inspires a lot of people not
to give up and be confident, day by day,
century by century.
He shows that all men strive for virtue and
Hercules has helped us to learn more about
Mythology and his stories educate, not only
Hercules is like us because he is not
He was the first hero who travelled around
the world fighting against beasts.
He will always be the symbol of virtue,
courage and the possibility to defeat the
For the powerful he was propaganda for
their actions, for the Church Hercules was
the mean to say that if we want we can
defeat the evil.
Hercules’ immortality is due to the fact that
he represents the strength of human power
and his Labours are his journey of
purification for his sins.He is a prime example of Andreia.
He is a part of our History. His Myth is
also educational for Men and Children.
He represents some virtues that are
important for the life of the Citizens and
teaches not to be upset facing the labours
of everyday life.
His abilities become more important through
Art, so that everybody can see and
He is immortal because the virtues he
represents are immortal and because the
story of his life is fascinating and exciting.