The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
European; Southern European; Roman
Greek; fl. c.390-after 310 B.C. Early Western World,Ancient Mediterranean,Ancient
Statuette of Hercules
Imperial Period, 2nd century A.D.
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
Bronze, lost-wax cast
Style or Period:
The hero is shown resting from his Twelve Labors while holding the three golden apples of the Hesperides against his lower back with his right hand. With his left hand he grasps a club (now missing) for support. The skin of the Nemean lion is often shownwrapped around this arm or hanging from the club. The most famous version of this statue was probably made by Lysippos for the Gymnasium of his native city of Sikyon, along the Gulf of Corinth, on the northern coast of the Peloponnesus. This small bronzeshows a wreath of vine leaves and fruit (grapes?) around the forehead, suggesting the pleasures of the banquet that await the hero on completion of his labors. This may be a Roman Imperial addition to the hero's attributes. On sarcophagi and in mosaics of the decades from A.D. 150 to 230, the drinking contest between Dionysos (the Roman Bacchus, god of wine) and Herakles was a popular theme, for it pitted experience and toleration against rashness and force. The weary Herakles always succumbed in these encounters and had to stagger off to bed with the aid of Dionysos's followers, the satyrs and maenads.
Early Western World, Roman Republic and Empire
H.: 22 cm (8-11/16 in.); W.: 11.4 cm (4-1/2 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Katharine K. Adler Endowment
Roman copy of the fourth-century B.C. Greek original by Lysippos. During the second and first centuries B.C. the Romans conquered the cities and kingdoms that made up the Greek world; however, they promptly turned to Greece for much of their artistic inspiration. Educated Romans spoke Greek, studied with Greek scholars in Athens and Ionia, and copied Greek styles in writing, speaking, architecture, painting, and sculpture. They removed original art from the Greek world to decorate their private and public buildings, and when demand outstripped supply, they commissioned copies of Greek originals. Sculptures with mythological references were sought because they bespoke educated and cultured Roman patrons who placed sculpture in their gardens, baths, andliving rooms according to the meanings they wanted to convey.
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