The Modern Hercules

Images of the Hero from the Nineteenth to the Early Twenty-First Century


The Modern Hercules explores the reception of the ancient Greek hero Herakles – the Roman Hercules – in western culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. Each chapter considers a particular work or theme in detail, exploring this complex hero’s transformations of identity and significance in a wide range of modern media, including literature, visual arts and film. The volume is one of four to be published in the Metaforms series examining the extraordinarily persistent figuring of Herakles-Hercules in western culture, drawing together scholars from a range of disciplines to offer a unique insight into the hero’s perennial appeal.

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Alastair J.L. Blanshard (PhD Cambridge 1999) is the Paul Eliadis Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland. He is the author of Hercules: A heroic life (Granta 2005), Sex: Vice and Love from Antiquity to Modernity (Blackwells 2010), Classics on Screen: Ancient Greece and Rome on film (with K. Shahabudin, Bristol Classical Press 2011), The Classical World: All that matters (Hodder and Stoughton 2015) and is one of the collaborative authors of Postclassicisms (Chicago University Press 2019).
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: Arlene Allan, Eran Almagor, Jean Alvares, Alix Beaumont, Monica S. Cyrino, Will Desmond, Matthew Dillon, Frances Foster, T.H.M. Gellar-Goad, Joel Gordon, Stephe Harrop, Owen Hodkinson, Katherine Lu Hsu, Paula James, Hugo Koning, Kleoniki Kyrkopoulou, Lisa Maurice, Andreas Michalopoulos, Charilaos Michalopoulos, Eleanor OKell, Ayelet Peer, Patricia Saltzman-Mitchell, Clemence Schultze, Maria Seijo-Richart, Jon Solomon, Emma Stafford, Sam Summers, Rachel White, Michael Williams, Maria Xanthou.
"The Modern Hercules est un ouvrage fort agréable, présentant de nombreuses illustrations et un index. Il constitue un véritable outil à destination d’un public déjà connaisseur du héros, désireux d’ouvrir son horizon de compréhension sur la réception d’Hercule" - Mathieu Scapin, in: Anabases 10.04.2022
"As an edited volume, this book offers an amazing breadth of work covering a wide selection of media and varying portrayals of Hercules. ... [It] offers incisive commentary, showcasing lesser-known case studies and parallels, and most importantly of all it exposes areas in need of further study and exploration." - Owen Rees, in: BMCR 2022.06.06
Notes on Contributors
Hercules, the Modern Man: an Introduction
Alastair Blanshard and Emma Stafford

Part 1: The Hero in Literature, Art and Politics

Part 1.1: Nineteenth- to Twenty-first-century Literature

1 Hercules among the Germans
Will Desmond

2 Hercules among the Tractarians: Typological Reading in Isaac Williams’ The Christian Scholar
Clemence Schultze

3 ‘And maybe in your case there wouldn’t be a Herakles…’: Herakles in C.P. Cavafy and Yiannis Ritsos
Charilaos N. Michalopoulos

4 ‘The mirror of Greek myth’: James McAuley’s The Hero and the Hydra
Rachael White

5 Agatha Christie’s Twelve Labours of Hercules
Hugo Koning

6 Hercules as Romantic Hero in Twenty-first-century Historical Fiction
Eleanor OKell

Part 1.2: A Hero for Children?

7 Hercules in Children’s Literature: a ‘warts and all’ Model of Masculinity?
Owen Hodkinson

8 Demigod, God or Monster? Rick Riordan’s Hercules
Frances Foster

9 The Incredible Hercules
Hugo Koning

Part 1.3: Political Discourse

10 Whose Hero? Hercules and His Avatars in Political Discourse
Paula James

11 Reimagining Herakles: a Supporter of Greek Revolution and a Defender of the Greek Crown
Maria Xanthou and Kleoniki Kyrkopoulou

12 ‘Ο Ηρακλής πήρε το ρόπαλό του’ [‘Herakles got his club’]: the Reception of Herakles in the Modern Greek Press
Andreas N. Michalopoulos

13 A Coruña, Cidade Herculina: Hercules as Founder of Cities
Maria Seijo-Richart

14 Exhibiting Maguire’s Herakles: a Dialogue between Old and New Worlds
Emma Stafford

Part 2: From Image to Screen

Part 2.1: Modes of Reception

15 Herakles on Chesil Bank: the Archers’ Disavowable Classicism and The Small Back Room (1949)
Stephe Harrop

16 ‘The muscles of Hercules beneath the skin of Antinous’: Mapping Herculean Stardom in Film Fan-magazine Discourse
Michael Williams

17 Hercules ‘Down Under’: Antipodean Experiences of the Hero’s Machismo
Matthew Dillon

Part 2.2: For the Younger Viewer

18 The Mighty Hercules Cartoon Series in Conversation with Steve Reeve’s Hercules, Super-hero Comics and 1960s Societal Concerns
Arlene Allan

19 Asterix as the New Hercules: The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976)
Eran Almagor

20 Disney’s Hercules in Context: Mouse-morality for Mini-heroes
Lisa Maurice

21 A Real American Hero: the Superhero-ification of Disney’s Hercules
Sam Summers

22 The Convergence of Family Values, Computer-Generated Monsters, and Cleavage in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Jon Solomon

Part 2.3: Millenial Concerns

23 The Labours of Hercules-Sama
Ayelet Peer

24 Hercules’ Self-fashioning on Screenː Millennial Concerns and Political Dimensions
Jean Alvares and Patricia Salzman-Mitchell

25 ‘Through a glass, partly’ Reflections of Hercules in Video Games: the Mythodiegesis of Depictions of Hercules in Video Games, and Their Groundings in Medium and Textual Requirements and Contexts
†Alix Beaumont

Part 2.4: From Graphic Novel to Blockbuster Film

26 ‘I am Hercules!’: Rebooting, Rationalization and Heroism in 2014
Joel Gordon

27 Warriors, Murderers, Savages: Violence in Steve Moore’s Hercules: The Thracian Wars
Katherine Lu Hsu

28 Sex and Gender, Race and Orientalism in Steve Moore’s Hercules Comics
T. H. M. Gellar-Goad

29 How the Rock became Rockules: Dwayne Johnson’s Star Text in Hercules(2014)
Monica Cyrino
All interested in Herakles/Hercules, or classical heroes and myth more broadly, and their reception in later cultures across a wide range of literary genres and visual media, including film.
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