Hercules (/ˈhɜːrkjuliːz, -jə-/) is a Roman hero and god. He was the equivalent of the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures.
The Romans adapted the Greek hero's iconography and myths for their literature and art under the name Hercules. In later Western art and literature and in popular culture, Hercules is more commonly used than Heracles as the name of the hero. Hercules was 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.
God of strength and heroes
Copy of Hercules fighting the Nemean lionby Peter Paul Rubens
|Symbol||Club, Nemean Lion, bow and arrows|
|Parents||Jupiter and Alcmene|
Hercules is known for his many adventures, which took him to the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world. One cycle of these adventures became canonical as the "Twelve Labours", but the list has variations. One traditional order of the labours is found in the Bibliotheca as follows:
Hercules had a greater number of "deeds on the side" (parerga) that have been popular subjects for art, including:
The Latin name Hercules was borrowed through Etruscan, where it is represented variously as Heracle, Hercle, and other forms. Hercules was a favorite subject for Etruscan art, and appears often on bronze mirrors. The Etruscan form Herceler derives from the Greek Heracles via syncope. A mild oath invoking Hercules (Hercule! or Mehercle!) was a common interjection in Classical Latin.
Hercules had a number of myths that were distinctly Roman. One of these is Hercules' defeat of Cacus, who was terrorizing the countryside of Rome. The hero was associated with the Aventine Hill through his son Aventinus. Mark Antony considered him a personal patron god, as did the emperor 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 presents the myth of Hercules' conception as a sex comedy in his play Amphitryon; Seneca wrote the tragedy Hercules Furens about his bout with madness. During the Roman Imperial era, Hercules was worshipped locally from Hispania through Gaul.
... they say that Hercules, too, once visited them; and when going into battle, they sang of him first of all heroes. They have also those songs of theirs, by the recital of this barditus as they call it, they rouse their courage, while from the note they augur the result of the approaching conflict. For, as their line shouts, they inspire or feel alarm.
In the Roman era Hercules' Club amulets appear from the 2nd to 3rd century, distributed over the empire (including 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[culi]", confirming the association with Hercules.
In the 5th to 7th centuries, during the Migration Period, the amulet is theorized to have rapidly spread from the Elbe Germanic area across Europe. These Germanic "Donar's Clubs" were made from deer antler, bone or wood, more rarely also from bronze or precious metals.They are found exclusively in female graves, apparently worn either as a belt pendant, or as an ear pendant. The amulet type is replaced by the Viking Age Thor's hammer pendants in the course of the Christianization of Scandinavia from the 8th to 9th century.
After the Roman Empire became Christianized, mythological narratives were often reinterpreted as allegory, influenced by the philosophy of late antiquity. In the 4th century, Servius 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 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.
In 1600, the citizens of Avignon bestowed on Henry of Navarre (the future King 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.
The Renaissance and the invention of the printing press 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. 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 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 (his favorite weapon); in mosaic he is shown tanned bronze, a virile aspect.
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 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.
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).
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.
Heracles ( HERR-ə-kleez; Greek: Ἡρακλῆς, Hēraklês, Glory/Pride of Hēra, "Hera"), born Alcaeus (Ἀλκαῖος, Alkaios) () or Alcides (Ἀλκείδης, Alkeidēs) () was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon. He was a great-grandson and half-brother (as they are both sired by the god Zeus) of Perseus. He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι), and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.Hercules (1997 film)
Hercules is a 1997 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation for Walt Disney Pictures. The 35th Disney animated feature film and the eighth animated film produced during the Disney Renaissance, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. The film is loosely based on the legendary hero Heracles (known in the film by his Roman name, Hercules), the son of Zeus, in Greek mythology.
Development of Hercules began in 1992 following a pitch adaptation of the Heracles mythological stories by animator Joe Haidar. Meanwhile, Ron Clements and John Musker re-developed their idea for Treasure Planet following the critical and commercial success of Aladdin. Their project was removed from development in 1993, and Musker and Clements joined Hercules later that same year. Following an unused treatment by Haidar, Clements and Musker studied multiple interpretations of Greek mythology before abandoning Zeus's adulterous affair with Alcmene. The project underwent multiple story treatments and a first script draft was inspired by the screwball comedy films of the classic Hollywood era and popular culture of the 1990s. Donald McEnery, Bob Shaw, and Irene Mecchi were brought on board to shorten the script. British cartoonist Gerald Scarfe was recruited as production designer and produced over seven hundred visualization designs of the characters. Research trips to Greece and Turkey provided inspiration for the background designs. Animation for the film was done in California and Paris. Computer animation was utilized in several scenes, predominantly in the Hydra battle sequence.
Hercules was released on June 27, 1997 to positive reviews from film reviewers who praised James Woods's portrayal of Hades. Despite the positive critical reception, the film under-performed in its theatrical release notably in comparison to its predecessors before ultimately earning $252.7 million in box office revenue worldwide. Hercules was later followed by the direct-to-video prequel Hercules: Zero to Hero, which served as the pilot to Hercules: The Animated Series, a syndicated Disney TV series focusing on Hercules during his time at the Prometheus academy.Hercules (1998 TV series)
Disney's Hercules: The Animated Series is an American animated television series based on the 1997 film of the same name and the Greek myth. The series premiered in syndication on August 31, 1998, and on ABC through its Disney's One Saturday Morning block on September 12, 1998. The syndicated run lasted 52 episodes, while the ABC run lasted 13 episodes.Hercules (2014 film)
Hercules is a 2014 American 3D action fantasy adventure film directed by Brett Ratner, written by Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos, and starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Reece Ritchie, Tobias Santelmann, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, Rebecca Ferguson, Isaac Andrews, Irina Shayk, and John Hurt. It is based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. Distributed jointly by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it was released on July 25, 2014. It is one of two Hollywood-studio Hercules films released in 2014, the other one being Lionsgate's The Legend of Hercules.
The film became a box office success, earning $244 million on a $100 million budget and received mixed reviews from critics, who, however, praised the action sequences and Johnson's acting.Hercules (Marvel Comics)
Hercules is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on Heracles of Greek mythology and Roman mythology, although the name "Hercules" is associated with the version from Roman mythology. The character has starred in three self-titled limited series and been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers. In 2008, Hercules debuted in his own series titled The Incredible Hercules. The character was ranked 21st in IGN's list of "The Top 50 Avengers", and has appeared in various forms of media including television series and video games.Hughes H-4 Hercules
The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the Spruce Goose; registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airlift flying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, it was nicknamed by critics the Spruce Goose, although it was made almost entirely of birch. The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and it has the largest wingspan of any aircraft that has ever flown. The aircraft remains in good condition. After being displayed to the public for almost 11 years in Long Beach, California from 1980 to 1991, it is now displayed at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States.Hércules CF
Hércules de Alicante Club de Fútbol, S.A.D. (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈeɾkules]) is a Spanish football team based in Alicante, in the autonomous community of Valencian Community. Founded in 12 March 1922, it currently plays in Segunda División B – Group 3 and plays its home games at the 30,000-capacity Estadio José Rico Pérez.Labours of Hercules
The Twelve Labours of Heracles or Hercules (Greek: οἱ Ἡρακλέους ἆθλοι, hoi Hērakleous athloi) are a series of episodes concerning a penance carried out by Heracles, the greatest of the Greek heroes, whose name was later romanised as Hercules. They were accomplished over 12 years at the service of King Eurystheus. The episodes were later connected by a continuous narrative. The establishment of a fixed cycle of twelve labours was attributed by the Greeks to an epic poem, now lost, written by Peisander, dated about 600 BC. After Hercules killed his wife and children, he went to the oracle at Delphi. He prayed to the god Apollo for guidance. Hercules was told to serve the king of Mycenae, Eurystheus, for 12 years. During these 12 years, Hercules is sent to perform twelve difficult feats, called labours.Lernaean Hydra
The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna (Greek: Λερναῖα Ὕδρα, Lernaîa Hýdra), more often known simply as the Hydra, is a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, which was also the site of the myth of the Danaïdes. Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld, and archaeology has established it as a sacred site older than Mycenaean Argos. In the canonical Hydra myth, the monster is killed by Heracles (Hercules) as the second of his Twelve Labors.According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. It had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly. The Hydra possessed many heads, the exact number of which varies according to the source. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster: for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow two heads. Heracles required the assistance of his cousin Iolaus to cut off all of the monster's heads and burn the neck using sword and fire.Liger
The liger is a hybrid offspring of a male lion (Panthera leo) and a female tiger (Panthera tigris). The liger has parents in the same genus but of different species. The liger is distinct from the similar hybrid tigon, and is the largest of all known extant felines. They enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and are very sociable like lions. Notably, ligers typically grow larger than either parent species, unlike tigons.Lockheed C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin). Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medevac, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting. It is now the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. More than 40 variants of the Hercules, including a civilian one marketed as the Lockheed L-100, operate in more than 60 nations.
The C-130 entered service with the U.S. in 1956, followed by Australia and many other nations. During its years of service, the Hercules family has participated in numerous military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations. In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft to mark 50 years of continuous service with its original primary customer, which for the C-130 is the United States Air Force. The C-130 Hercules is the longest continuously produced military aircraft at over 60 years, with the updated Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules currently being produced.Lockheed EC-130
The Lockheed Martin EC-130 series comprises several slightly different versions of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules that have been and continue to be operated by the U.S. Air Force and, until the 1990s, the U.S. Navy.
The EC-130E Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC) was based on a basic C-130E platform and provided tactical airborne command post capabilities to air commanders and ground commanders in low air threat environments. The EC-130E ABCCC aircraft were retired in 2002 and the mission was 'migrated' to the E-8 JSTARS and E-3 AWACS fleets.
The EC-130E Commando Solo was an earlier version of a U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard psychological operations (PSYOPS) aircraft and this aircraft also employed a C-130E airframe, but was modified by using the mission electronic equipment from the retired EC-121S Coronet Solo aircraft. This airframe served during the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), Operation Uphold Democracy, the second Gulf War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and in Operation Enduring Freedom. The EC-130E was eventually replaced by the EC-130J Commando Solo and retired in 2006.
Based on a C-130H airframe, the EC-130H Compass Call is an airborne communications jamming platform operated by the Air Combat Command's (ACC) 55th Electronic Combat Group (55 ECG) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona. The EC-130 Compass Call aircraft attempts to disrupt enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. The Compass Call system employs offensive counterinformation and electronic attack capabilities in support of U.S. and Coalition tactical air, surface, and special operations forces. The EC-130H was used extensively in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, disrupting Iraqi communications at both the strategic and tactical levels. It has also been used in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State.
The EC-130J Commando Solo is a modified C-130J Hercules used to conduct psychological operations (PSYOP) and civil affairs broadcast missions in the standard AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. Missions are flown at the maximum altitudes possible to ensure optimum propagation patterns. The EC-130J flies during either day or night scenarios with equal success, and is air-refuelable. A typical mission consists of a single-ship orbit which is offset from the desired target audience. The targets may be either military or civilian personnel. The Commando Solo is operated exclusively by the Air National Guard, specifically the 193d Special Operations Wing (193 SOW), a unit of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard operationally gained by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The 193 SOW is based at the Harrisburg Air National Guard Base (former Olmstead AFB) at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Navy's EC-130Q Hercules TACAMO ("Take Charge and Move Out") aircraft was a land-based naval aviation platform that served as a SIOP strategic communications link aircraft for the U.S. Navy's Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarine force and as a backup communications link for the USAF manned strategic bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile forces. To ensure survivability, TACAMO operated as a solo platform, well away from and not interacting with other major naval forces such as sea-based aircraft carrier strike groups and their carrier air wings or land-based maritime patrol aircraft. Operated by Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron THREE (VQ-3) and Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron FOUR (VQ-4), the EC-130Q was replaced by the U.S. Navy's current TACAMO platform, the Boeing 707-based E-6 Mercury.Lockheed HC-130
The Lockheed HC-130 is an extended-range, search and rescue (SAR)/combat search and rescue (CSAR) version of the C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, with two different versions operated by two separate services in the U.S. armed forces.
The HC-130H Hercules and HC-130J Hercules versions are operated by the United States Coast Guard in a SAR and maritime reconnaissance role.
The HC-130P Combat King and HC-130J Combat King II variants are operated by the United States Air Force for long-range SAR and CSAR. The USAF variants also execute on scene CSAR command and control, airdrop pararescue forces and equipment, and are also capable of providing aerial refueling to appropriately equipped USAF, US Army, USN, USMC, and NATO/Allied helicopters in flight. In this latter role, they are primarily used to extend the range and endurance of combat search and rescue helicopters.
In July 2015, it was announced that the U.S. Forest Service will be receiving some of the U.S. Coast Guard's HC-130H aircraft to use as aerial fire retardant drop tankers as the Coast Guard replaces the HC-130H with additional HC-130J and HC-27J Spartan aircraft, the latter being received from the Air National Guard as part of a USAF-directed divestment of the C-27.Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 60 years of service, the family has participated in military, civilian, and humanitarian aid operations. The Hercules has outlived several planned successor designs, most notably the Advanced Medium STOL Transport contestants. As of February 2018, 400 C-130J aircraft have been delivered to 17 nations.Lockheed Martin KC-130
The Lockheed Martin KC-130 is the basic designation for a family of the extended-range tanker version of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft modified for aerial refueling. The KC-130J is the latest variant operated by the United States Marine Corps, with 48 delivered out of 79 ordered. It replaced older KC-130F, KC-130R, and KC-130T variants, while one USMC reserve unit still operates 12 KC-130T aircraft.Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of Hercules (Latin: Columnae Herculis, Greek: Ἡράκλειαι Στῆλαι, Arabic: أعمدة هرقل / Aʿmidat Hiraql, Spanish: Columnas de Hércules) was the phrase that was applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar, Calpe Mons, is the Rock of Gibraltar. A corresponding North African peak not being predominant, the identity of the southern Pillar, Abila Mons, has been disputed throughout history, with the two most likely candidates being Monte Hacho in Ceuta and Jebel Musa in Morocco.Sword-and-sandal
The sword-and-sandal film, a "label which derives from US-led discourse" with predominantly negative associations for which the more neutral term peplum film (plural: peplum films, or pepla; referring to the Greek garment sometimes worn by characters in the films) was introduced by French film critics in the 1960s, is, in its narrow sense, a genre of Italian-made historical or mythological epics set in antiquity - mostly Greco-Roman - or a fictional period similar to it. The peplum films played a large role in the Italian film industry from 1958 to 1965 (when they were eventually supplanted by Eurospy films and Spaghetti Westerns). In their US export versions, the films can be immediately differentiated from their Hollywood counterparts by their use of "clumsy and inadequate" dubbing, whereas the original Italian dubbing was "professional and technically proficient, for the most part".In a broader sense, the terms sword-and-sandal and peplum can also be used to refer to any film from the silent era to the present set in antiquity, or in a fictional period similar to antiquity. In this use, they are also not restricted to Italian productions, thus also including US films such as the bible film The Ten Commandments (1956) and the sword and sorcery film Conan the Barbarian (1982). Italian epic films set in antiquity that were produced before the peplum wave proper started in 1957, such as Fabiola (1949) and Ulysses (1954), have been called proto-peplum. More recent peplum films, such as Gladiator (2000) and Troy (2004), have been called neo-peplum.