The Exemplary Hercules from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and Beyond


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The Exemplary Hercules explores the reception of the ancient Greek hero Herakles – the Roman Hercules – in European culture from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and beyond. Each chapter considers a particular work or theme in detail, raising questions about the hero’s role as model of the princely ruler, and examining how the worthiness of this exemplary type came, in time, to be subverted. The volume is one of four to be published in the Metaforms series examining the extraordinarily persistent figuring of Herakles-Hercules in western culture up to the present day, drawing together scholars from a range of disciplines to offer a unique insight into the hero’s perennial, but changingly problematic, appeal.

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Valerie Mainz (PhD University College, University of London 1992) is the author of Days of Glory? Imaging Military Recruitment and the French Revolution (Palgrave Macmillan 2016). Between 1992 and 2018 she worked as a Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, at the University of Leeds.
Emma Stafford (PhD London 1999) is Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Leeds. She is author of Worshipping Virtues (Classical Press of Wales/Duckworth 2000) and Herakles (Routledge 2012), and coordinator of the Leeds Hercules Project (

Contributors are: Ioannis Deligiannis Paul Gwynne Anne-Sophie Laruelle Annie Verbanck-Piérard Joanna Woodall Marc Bizer Russell Goulbourne Pamina Fernández Camacho Filipa Araújo Alexandra Eppinger Valerie Mainz Manuel Caballero González Tomas Macsotay
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: The Transmission of a Classical Tradition in Theory and Practice
Valerie Mainz and Emma Stafford

Part 1 Applying the Model of the Princely Ruler

1 The Choice-Making Hercules as an Exemplary Model for Alessandro and Federico Gonzaga and the Fifteenth-Century Latin Translation of Prodikos’ Tale of Herakles by Sassolo da Prato
Ioannis Deligiannis

2 Macte animis, Caesar, nostros imitare labores: Hercules and the Holy Roman Empire
Paul Gwynne

3 Hercules in the Art of Flemish Tapestry (1450–1556)
Anne-Sophie Laruelle

4 Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine and Hercules: A Political Emblem between Tradition and Innovation
Annie Verbanck-Piérard

5 Monstrorum domitori: Emblematic and Allegorical Representations of the Herculean task Accomplished by José I, King of Portugal (1714–77)
Filipa Medeiros Araújo

Part 2 Exploiting the Model

6 What Identity for Hercules Gaditanus? The Role of the Gaditanian Hercules in the Invention of National History in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain
Pamina Fernández Camacho

7 Monstrous Masculinity? Hendrick Goltzius’ Engraving of The Great Hercules 1589
Joanna Woodall

8 Literary Hard Labour: Lyric and Autobiography in Joachim du Bellay
Marc Bizer

9 Voltaire’s Hercules
Russell Goulbourne

Part 3 Challenging the Model in the Later Eighteenth Century

10 Hercules the Younger: Heroic Allusions in Late Eighteenth Century British Political Cartoons
Alexandra Eppinger

11 Hercules, His Club and the French Revolution
Valerie Mainz

12 New Representations of Hercules’ Madness in Modernity: The Depiction of Hercules and Lichas
Manuel Caballero González

13 How Hercules Lost His Poise: Reason, Youth and Fellowship in the Heroic Neoclassical Body
Tomas Macsotay

All interested in Herakles/Hercules and the transmission, over time, of the Western European classical tradition in a wide range of literary genres and visual media.
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