These are sources we have used in our research and found useful. Most are specifically about Herakles, but some are useful for providing background information on myth, religion, art and other topics.
Brommer, Frank (1986).
Heracles: The Twelve Labors of the Hero in Ancient Art and Literature.
New Rochelle, New York: Aristide D. Caratzas, Publishers.
Brommer discusses the origins of the order of the twelve labors. He looks at the first appearance of the labors in literature versus artistic representation. Accordingly, the labors of the Herd of Geryon and the capturing of Cerberus are the only two of the twelve labors in which a literary tradition preceded a known artistic tradition. Brommer suggests that the twelve labors were only indicative of popularity and not “set in stone”. By following this interpretation, the cannonical twelve labors are only a possible outline for the labors of Heracles.
Brommer also discusses the transformation of Heracles’ image over time. In the Geometric Period, artists did not characterize heroes or gods by their attributes (i.e. Heracles was not shown with his club or lion skin and Zeus was not depicted with thunder bolts or an eagle). In the late 7th century, Heracles underwent a slow transformation from being depicted in armor to wearing the lion skin in the early 6th century. The wider acceptance of Heracles with the lion skin allowed for the Nemean Lion scene to become accepted as the first labor, thus Heracles is generally depicted as being young in this scene, with no beard. On the metopes of Olympia, Heracles is notably exhausted in many of the scenes, however, in the Classical period this motif became less frequent. Heracles slowly changed into a figure that exemplified inexhaustible strength. Thus ferocious enemies became less important and in their place Heracles began to be shown as more muscular and athletic. (RLC)
Galinsky, G. Karl (1972). The Herakles Theme: Adaptations of the Hero in Literature from Homer to the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. (Chapter by Chapter annotations)
Chapter I: The Archaic Hero This chapter discusses the reasons why Herakles is not a central figure in Homer’s works. Homer chose to focus his epics on the Trojan War and its heroes. Galinsky argues that Homer felt Herakles did not exhibit the proper heroic ideals or codes of behavior of his other heroes. In the Odyssey, Herakles appears as comparatively barbaric. In this epic, they prized “polite speech, decorum, courtesy, ‘good breeding’ – rather than the battlefield.” This chapter explains why Homer used references to Herakles in his work. This was done to make the character's feats appear great by comparing it with those of Herakles. By saying that they could not possibly compete with Herakles, the characters distanced themselves from the negative aspects of Herakles. He is a hero that has transgressed “beyond the proper limit.” By mentioning him in the Iliad, Homer is implying that the heroes of this work have transgressed greatly as well. Overall, this chapter is a good resource for researching how and why Herakles is portrayed throughout the various works of Homer. (RC)
Chapter III: The Tragic Hero Galinsky discusses how each playwright differs in his depiction of Herakles as a tragic hero. The author takes an analytical approach to Herakles' tragic side by examining the primary sources. He explains that Herakles does not appear very often on the tragic stage because his “action-hero” qualities do not fit in with drama’s internal focus. However Herakles does feature in plays by the major playwrights. In Aeschylus’ plays Prometheus Bound and Prometheus Unbound “Herakles represented a more advanced and enlightened kind of culture hero than did Prometheus” (42), while at the same time the common comic theme of a sexually driven, drunken hero is also present. Galinsky also discusses Euripides’ Herakles and Sophocles’ Trachiniae, explaining Deianira's and Megara's roles in the tragedies and how each of these wives felt. (HC)
Chapter IV: The Comic Hero, discusses a more humorous side of the hero Herakles. It begins by observing similarities between depictions of Herakles and the god Dionysus which may help explain Herakles' role as a comic figure. It provides many examples of the comical aspect of Herakles as a glutton and a drunkard, citing plenty of passages from various comedies by Aristophanes, Epicharmus, and other playwrights. It discusses Herakles as a popular comical hero in all parts of the Greek world, observing that "amid all the concomitant horseplay . . . [he continued] his role as the purifier, savior, and bringer of justice and Greek standards to oriental lands" (84). (HC)
Chapter V: Herakles Among the Philosophers and Alexandrians Galinsky attempts to show how Herakles could be adapted into different genres of writing. Herakles’ character survived the changes in Greek and Roman culture because writers often added new qualities to his character. It is for this reason that Herakles could be a superman, relying on brute strength and force in an epic, while he could also be an insightful philosopher, relying on his wits and moral judgement in the writings of the sophists. Galinsky focuses primarily on Apollonius’ epic the Argonautica. In the Argonautica Apollonius portrays Herakles with the kinds of attributes he had in earlier epics by Homer (archaic Herakles). Galinsky states the archaic Herakles has fewer human qualities than the Herakles found in 4th and 5th century writings. To illustrate how myths and heroes could be adapted into different genres Galinsky compares Apollonius’ Argonautica with Theocritus’ “Idyll 13.” Theocritus’ “Idyll 13” is supposed to take place during Herakles’ voyage on the Argonautica yet the poem has almost nothing in common with Apollonius’ Argonautica. Theocritus does not mention anything about Herakles’ superhuman qualities or his labors. Galinsky’s conclusion is that traditional heroes and myths were often reinterpreted by Greek writers.
Chapter VI: Roman Hercules In Galinsky’s chapter on Roman Hercules, there is a great deal of information about how the Romans viewed Herakles. The Greeks saw comedy and tragedy in Herakles; the Romans saw tragedy and stoicism in Hercules. The Romans saw Herakles in a more serious role than the Greeks did. Herakles embodied the qualities that the Romans held most valuable. In this way, Herakles is often associated with great men and other heroes.
Galinsky also goes into a lengthy discussion of Aeneas’ relationship with Herakles. Aeneas is associated with Herakles in several different works of Roman authors. In his Aeneid, Vergil reinvented Herakles’ character in his Aeneid in Aeneas. Aeneas is likened to Herakles in the labors he has to endure. He is also plagued by Hera continuously throughout the epic. Aeneas is physically similar to Herakles. He is a man of great stature and strength. Aeneas is set up to be the “true spiritual and heroic heir of Herakles.”
Horace related Augustus to Herakles in the Third Roman Ode, showing him in the same light as Aeneas and with the same qualities as Herakles. There was political motivation behind naming Augustus as a Herakles figure. This tactic was used to discredit Augustus’ adversaries from their claims of relationship with Herakles. Other poems by other authors of Rome linked Augustus to Herakles.
Galinsky makes abundant use of primary sources which he has in Latin and in English. His style is fluid and easy to assimilate. Though the quotes from primary sources can be a bit disconcerting, the overall discussion is easy to follow and very interesting. (MAC)
Chapter VII: Herakles in the Roman Elegiac and Epic Tradition This essay begins by discussing the lack of seriousness of Ovid and Propertius, and their references to many authors, such as Apollonius, Sophocles, Vergil, Euripides, and Seneca. Propertius knew of his “inability to compose the sort of poetry which Vergil and Horace wrote more successfully” and “the result is the most comical and witty treatment of Herakles in Latin literature”. Ovid had a “collection of fictitious letters from noble ladies to their famous, heroic paramours or vice versa”. One includes a letter to Herakles from Deianeira in which she is a “jealous shrew who rants for all of 143 lines”. This gives a different view of Deianeira from Sophocles’ version of Trachiniae.Ovid’s Metamorphoses (“Transformations”) are artistic, amusing and often poignant retellings of Greek myths for a sophisticated Roman audience. The Romans’ emphasis “is on the mysterious and godlike aspects of Herakles, quite in contrast to the Herakles tradition which had emphasized what was humanly understandable in the hero.” (MB)
Timothy (1993). Early Greek Myth: A Guide
to Literature and
Text is an analytical review of ancient Greek Mythology. Articulate interpretation and review pertaining to Greek Gods along with mortal and immortal beings associated with Greek Mythology. In-depth discussion on ancient authors and their interpretation of original oral traditional Greek myths and possible reasons for altering the original stories. Authors mentioned range from early Greek to seventh century A. D. from art, poetry, and literature. Detailed genealogical review of all gods and method of birth and death. Excellent source for information to illustrate multi-level schemes and story lines of Greek myths. Over ninety pages are dedicated specifically to detailed exploits and interpretations of Hercules. Many adventures, with an excellent review of the twelve labors, are discussed comparing various authors’ interpretations. (JR)
Padilla, Mark W.
(1998). The Myths of Herakles in Ancient Greece. University Press of
The Myths of Herakles in Ancient Greece, was created to be of use and interest to both general readers of classical myth and to instructors of courses on classical myth. The book first discusses the problem of the great number of narrative associations and various personages that are found under his name. “Theories have been advanced advocating his “original source” among the Indo-Europeans, pre-Indo-Europeans, Myceneans, Near-Eastern cultures and tribal/migratory peoples. Other scholars focus on Herakles’ primary functions and the etymology of his name. Perhaps the Greeks absorbed a figure or a series of figure from the Near East and Northern Africa”(1). Padilla discusses some of the popular theories relating to this. He then goes on to discuss the twelve labors of Herakles, the military expeditions, and incidental deeds. This is not to say he tells about them, but he explains that they are different from source to source. One reason he gives for this is artistic competition and provincial allegiances to the location of the labor, not the action of the labor. Padilla then outlines the problem of Herakles’ status. Is he a hero or a god? The fact that Herakles left no bones behind, allowed him to become a pan-Hellenic icon.
Padilla tells us that Herakles is well represented by the graphic arts. He appears on many vases and “his defeat of the Nemean Lion outnumbers all other subjects in Greek art”(3). He is represented on virtually all types of art. Examples are: “shield bands, temple art, bronze-reliefs, gems, coins, statues, and statuettes, and silverware”(3). The author then discusses the possible origins of the images in which Herakles is depicted. Padilla also discusses the literary tradition. The early literary record demonstrates great familiarity with the roles and exploits of Herakles. Homer associates Herakles with the figures of the generation of heroes prior to that of his epics, often to contextualize the meaning of heroic deeds and to establish lineages. Herakles is also mentioned in the context of theomachy (battle with gods), both because he has attacked gods and because gods quarrel amongst themselves on account of him. Padilla then discusses these issues citing a plethora of sources.
Padilla then goes on to discuss Herakles in sixth and fifth century Athens. “Attic vase painters feature Herakles in forty-four percent of the known output of their black-figure wares”(10). Padilla contends that Herakles gained popularity in part because “Peisistratus encouraged the scenes as a means to help ratify his political hegemony”(11). Peisistratus adopted the figure of Herakles as his mythical double or alter ego. Athena was seen with Herakles before this period, but she becomes more central to the iconography of this period. The poetry of this era also supports the authors’ conclusions. Athenian culture depicts Herakles as a god. The origins of this are obscure, some cults appeared to have been founded by the sixth century, while others have emerged in the fifth and fourth centuries. Padilla supports the contention that the transition to god status was started by the Athenians. The cult of Marathon is given the distinct credit. Padilla notes that “Herakles embodies the wide swing between aristocratic virtue and lower class laboring. He thus functions as an appropriate mediator for the collective project of forging a system of statehood in which a broad class of the demos held legislative authority in a participatory form of government and in which the aristocracy exercised leadership and normally filled the top positions”(18).
The second and last chapters complement the account in the first chapter of the functions and artistic representations of Herakles in Archaic and early Classical Greece. The first chapter tells how the Greeks thought of Herakles while the second chapter tells how the Greeks thought through Herakles. Padilla says that “Herakles embodies a node of cultural thinking articulated, albeit symbolically and fantastically, in the form of conceptual categories that both impose and question social, political, and religious ideas central to Greek culture”(19). Padilla then discusses Herakles as a hero-god, which is different from standard Greek practice. The Greeks have separate types of sacrifice for gods and heroes. He gives many examples to support the conclusion that Herakles is both. Herakles is thought of as a savior and averter of evil. He fulfills these functions by ridding the earth and seas of monsters and savage animals, tasks that soften the uncivilized world. Herakles is seen as both a friend and enemy. The nature of Herakles’ relations with others is multifaceted and scholars have commented upon their propensity to involve violence and death.These areas of the Herakles myth, are significantly expanded upon in the text. Padilla does an excellent job of utilizing many sources and concentrating them into a coherent readable format. He uses both primary source and scholarly sources to give a well rounded explanation of the Herakles myths and their origins. While it is not a complete overview of all facets of Herakles, it is a good starting point. Padilla points you in the direction of what you are interested in and contains the sources needed to do a more in depth study of many individual aspects of the Herakles myth. (GD)
Rainer (1988). Herakles in the
Art of Classical Greece. Oxford:
Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, Publisher.
Provides an extensive study of Herakles in Greek Art from about 450 to 300 BC. Describes and interprets over 620 representations of Herakles in both art and literature. Begins by analyzing the iconography of Herkles and discusses two of the main problems when dealing with representations of the hero. The first problem is distinguishing him between other early heroes including Jason and Theseus. The other problem is interpreting what labor or event is depicted within the artwork. Many times the problem occurs because the literary source is no longer available and thus only the artwork remains. One example is the creature Geras, who is named on one of the pieces of artwork, fighting Herakles, yet there is no literary tradition to explain who this foe is. For simplicity, Vollkommer follows Diodoros’ account in ordering his write-ups of the twelve labors. Each labor is discussed and individually categorized and compared to the literary source it is based on. Several other motifs are discussed as well, including: The Herakliskos, the Apotheosis, Struggle with Apollo for the Tripod, Nessos, depictions with Gods or Goddesses, especially Athena. Vollkommer discusses the popularity of scenes in different periods but does not give any explanation for the reasons behind their popularity. In his findings, Vollkomer concludes: in sculpture he is shown alone; in metopes accomplishing the labors; in the Attic period the Apotheosis is very popular; in black-figure the labors are popular; in red-figure, deeds other than the labors; Apulia varies; on coins he is shown alone or wrestling the lion because of the size of the coin. (RLC)
Barbarese, J.T. (1989). Translator’s Preface
to Euripides’ Children of Heracles. In David R. Slavitt and Palmer
Bovie, Euripides, 4. University of Pennsylvania Press.
The translator, J.T. Barbarese, opens his preface to Children of Heracles with criticism for the previous translators of the play, commenting that the past translators tried for “dictionary accuracy,” while he wanted a text that was readable as a script for people to perform. Barbarese explains how the relationship between Herakles and Eurystheus came about. He talks about how the play is officially a Greek tragedy, however his opinion is that the play is more of a comedy, “A story with a foul beginning and a prosperous conclusion...” Within his short summary of the story he reveals excellent references to the characteristics of Iolaus, Makaria and Alcmene. He goes into some detail about how the two dilemmas in the play are solved by the two main women of the play. Barbarese also briefly compares Euripides work to that of Sophocles and Aeschylus. (CW)
John (1972). Herakles, Peisistratos, and Sons. Revue Archeologique 57-72.
John Boardman states that “sixth-century politicians and rulers took seriously the importance of myth and the status of local heroes.” He then examines the connection between the depiction of Herakles and its political significance for Peisistratos. In the temples built during the reign of Peisistratos most of the sculptures included Herakles. It seems since Peisistratos was a tyrant and unpopular with the people of his time he tries to associate himself with the culture hero, Herakles, to improve his stability and popularity in Athens. Herakles was apparently chosen to be the symbol of Peisistratos because of the fact that his patron was Athena, “the city’s goddess,” and Herakles was a prominent hero of Athenian culture. Peisistratos associates himself with Herakles through symbolic connections, for instance, his protectors were strong-armed followers, “club-bearers”. The club is a common symbol of Herakles. Boardman uses examples of artwork with scenes of Herakles and associates them with the deeds of Peisistratos. For example, in a work by the Priam painter, Herakles is shown in a chariot escorted by figures such as Dionysos and Apollo. Their presence implies a journey to Olympus, which could parallel Peisistratos’ moving into the Acropolis when he took control of Athens. Good source for connections between a culture hero and the political figure of the sixth century, Peisistratos. (CW)
John (1973). Greek Art
(Revised Edition). Oxford University Press.
While many texts written on art are developed around the background information of a society, this one deals less with those aspects and focuses more directly on the styles, characteristics, and variations of individual periods. First is a look at geometric art where the author discusses the vase paintings and small statuettes that comprised it. Next is a section dealing with the derivation of much of Greek art from the East and ancient Egypt. Then come the topics of archaic art, Classical sculpture and architecture, other art forms (jewelry, coins, bronze statues), and then finally Hellenistic art.
(1974). Athenian Black Figure
Vases. Oxford University
This book discusses, in detail, the style, decoration and shape of black and red figure vases (much less emphasis is placed on red figure) dating from approximately 630 BC to 470 BC. The author discusses not only the paintings and pottery, but also the artists who have produces these works. He places most of the artists into small groups and refers to each group as if it were a single artist. There are some artists though who are referred to individually, not necessarily because they are of particular importance, but rather because they have signed their works and are therefore, "known" to the world of art. Three hundred and twenty-one images are seen throughout this book which allows the reader to see the differences in pottery as well as read about them. Other issues discussed in this book are "General Decoration," "Scenes of Reality," and "Scenes of Myth." It is in the "Scenes of Myth" section that we can finally find a few pages devoted to Herakles. Despite the limited space, Boardman describes how Herakles is depicted in seven of the twelve labors (there are images to accompany the descriptions), and also hits on Herakles' interaction with Athena and Apollo in art. Overall this book has a lot to contribute to the study of Herakles in art. The imagery is great and the section pertaining to him alone is an excellent source. (BS)
John (1975). Athenian
Red Figure Vases.
London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.
The purpose of this work is to develop a thorough understanding of the history of Red Figure Vases. It begins with the invention of, and experimentation in the red figure technique. Begun around 530 BC, red figure was the revitalization of vase painting. After approximately 100 years of the black figure technique, many artists had already achieved their full potential in this area. Because of this the establishment of red figure painting was welcomed in the artistic community.
this basic knowledge is established, the text moves on to other topics such as
the late archaic painters; the relationship between shapes and dates;
decoration; and the various scenes commonly accepted on such vases.
These scenes include both scenes from reality and scenes from myth.
It is in mythical scenes that depictions of Herakles are found.
Boardman, John (1982).
"Herakles, Theseus and Amazons." In Donna Kurtz, The Eye of
Greece: Studies in the Art of Athens. New York: Cambridge University Press,
This essay examines the similarities between Theseus and Herakles and their relationships to the Amazons. An analytical approach focusing mainly on art; other primary sources including Herodotus, Epicharmus, and Pausanias appear throughout the essay. The essay explains how both heros are "monster-fighters" and also compares the beasts that they battle. Boardman uses subtle details to explain the popularity and significance of both heroes in Athenian art. (HC)
(1985). Greek Sculpture: The
Classical Period. London:
Thames and Hudson Ltd.
The purpose of this book is to convey what proof we have for the "appearance and development of sculpture in the fifth century" (p 9). In order to accomplish this feat, 17 chapters on specific sections of Greek sculpture are laid before the reader. Boardman discusses in detail two particular temples (the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus). Along with these, relief sculpture, attic sculpture, technique, and various artists are well-developed topics. The artists' progress in representation of the human form is detailed effectively through this text as statues advance from the rigid style of ancient Egyptians to the free flowing forms seen in the late classical period. As for information on Herakles, this book refers to him only when in direct association with a particular work of art. No general information pertaining to the "how" and "why" of Herakles' depictions is given. (BS)
John ed. (1993).
The Oxford History of Classical Art.
Oxford University Press.
This 403-page history of Classical Art is an impressively complete work which boasts approximately 400 illustrations (both full color and black-and-white). The seven chapters of this book were divided up among five different authors who begin each of their individual sections with both the social and historical background to the particular area/time period given them. These sections include an introduction, pre-classical Greece, the Classical Period, the Hellenisitc Period, Rome: the Reublic and early Empire, the later Roman Empire, and the diffusion of Classical art. There are many depictions of Herakles contained in this work which provide wonderful visual support when dealing with such topics as iconography. This is also a great resource when in search for the particulars on individual piece of art (BS)
R.L. (1968). Classical Art. Iowa: Wm. C.
Brown Company Publishers.
This text provides the reader with a brief, but helpful, overview of the many art styles that have existed throughout the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman cultures. Beginning with Greece, this study covers works from the Stone Age (2700/2600 BC) to Hellenistic Art (350 B.C.-134 AD) including such well known pieces as the Lion Gate in Mycenae and The Temple of Zeus at Olympia located in Athens. The section devoted to the Etruscan society discusses sculpture, painting and crafts dating from 600 BC to the 4th century BC. Last in line is Roman art which is researched from the 1st century BC up to 313 AD While most of the book deals with sculpture, pottery and architecture, there is an introduction to each individual culture before the artistic issues are addressed. These sections help to further the readers' understanding of how and why the different styles appeared as they did. This book also includes timelines, which make an easy reference source for the reader as they move from one culture to another. While this is a great book for a crash-course on Classical Art, the same can't be said for its information concerning Herakles. He is mentioned only twice and very briefly at that. The first incident in is relation to the work "Herakles as Archer" where he is (as subject matter) described as "complicated" and "uniform." The second reference to him is as a subject in the "Herakles and Antaios" red figure vase. Nothing else of him is discussed. (BS)
Thomas (1993 [----]). The Golden Age of Myth and Legend. Hertfordshire:
Wordsworth Editions Ltd. [----]
An overview of the more popular stories of classical mythology (using Romanized forms of the names), with a small chapter dedicated to Hercules. This chapter includes brief summaries of the twelve labors, Omphale, Dejanira, and the death of Hercules. There are very few primary source references; those few include brief excerpts from poetry about the hero. The book is not a good research source but gives a nice brief synopsis of the main stories of the hero's life. (HC)
Walter (1985). Greek Religion. Trans. John Raffan. Harvard
Greek Religion is a survey of ancient Greek religion. The book strives to present as many primary sources as possible and give prominence to those things which fit into meaningful contexts. The German edition of the book, was published in 1977 and the English edition of 1985 has added important new information. The book does not concentrate on Herakles solely and in fact only speaks of him in a few spots. Greek Religion has seven parts, which discuss: prehistory and the Minoan-Mycenaean age; ritual and sanctuary; the Gods, the dead, heroes, and Chthonic Gods; polis and polytheism; mysteries and asceticism;and finally, philosophical religion, including Plato, Aristotle and a variety of others.
The first mention of Herakles is in relation to offerings. The pious man takes to a sanctuary a little of everything which the seasons bring, seasonal gifts, ears of corn or bread, figs and olives, grapes, wine, and milk. These gifts usually go to the popular lesser gods, such as Herakles, and to heroes and city gods. The next mention of Herakles is in relation to everyday speech. In fear, excitement, amazement, or anger, the ‘gods’, or some fitting divine name, are invoked. Often local gods are used, or else Zeus, Apollo and especially Herakles, the averter of all that is evil. Herakles or mehercule in Latin, is used in the same way as Jesus in our day. The book then tells of the Eleusinian initiation. Those who take part must first bathe in the sea on a particular day. They then are purified with torches. This is seen on relief with Herakles, in the act of receiving the Eleusinian initiation, sits on a rams fleece with his head veiled while a priestess holds a torch under him.
Herakles is also mentioned in the portion of the book that deals with gods. Very similar cults often appear under the names of a variety of gods. Fire festivals belong to Artemis, Demeter, Herakles and even Isis. Also, Hermes, Eros, and Herakles are seen as the god of athletic youth. Heroes play an important role in Greek religion. While there are stories of gods fighting gods, gods marrying gods and gods in battle, powerful heroes could confront gods directly. The most powerful heroes are children or at least grandchildren of gods. Herakles is the son of Zeus and directly confronts Hera. Further, his deeds often move the gods into action. Burkert also discusses how Athena helps Herakles, as well as Herakles’ conflicts with Ares and release of Prometheus. (GD)
Walter (1983). Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual. Berkeley:
California University Press.
Burkert discusses the relationship between myths and ritual as well as several special topics in mythology. He explores the texts of primary sources like Apollodorus, Pindar and Pausanias to support his evidence on ritual of sacrifice and cult worship for the Greek gods, and Roman cults established afterwards. Dedicating an entire chapter to “Herakles and the Master of Animals”, he uses literary evidence from Homer to help establish the origins of the Herakles myth. Burkert also looks at the way that the Herakles myth affected the ritual practices of the surrounding community. (KG)
Buxton, Richard (1994).
Cambridge University Press.
The author aims to answer one major question: how do we interpret mythology and how does it apply to each culture within itself? The author compares our ancient Greek hero to a modern American hero, Davy Crockett. They both had recognizable attire, both purged a certain area of the world, Crockett the American frontier, and Herakles the ancient world. Both of these men were also great lovers, but Crockett was not worshipped. This book also focused on Herakles in comedy and how comedies allude to mythical characters focusing on their faults, such as Herakles’ gluttony and promiscuity. In studying the father-son relationships that Herakles had with Amphitryon and Zeus, this book is a great help. (AH)
Campbell, Joseph (1949). The Hero With A Thousand Faces. New York: Bolligen
Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces is a cross-cultural study of hero figures from world mythologies, folklores, and religions. He identifies a “monomyth” from the immense collection of research he conducted on various cultures. The “monomyth” idea is an attempt to link various stories together, showing that they follow along the same pattern and are simply variations on the same basic story. Campbell identifies a common thread in the hero stories of many cultures that may show a psychological link in human behavior. Campbell use of sources can be confusing at times as he jumps from one myth to the next, describing them and relating them to the hypothesis he is forming. He also relates these carious stories to personal experiences in the process of being inducted into a particular culture.
hero Heracles is mentioned three times in the course of this text. He is shown
killing the snakes in his crib in connection with other heroes who faced
trials during their childhoods. Heracles is also mentioned in connection with
Theseus when he faced his labors, in the same way as many other heroes of
other cultures did. There is also a section of this book concerned with the
hero being swallowed by a monster. Heracles faced this situation when coming
back from one of his labors. He had to cut his way out of the belly of a
monster, successfully killing it and saving the princess in the process.
work The Hero With A Thousand Faces
allows the reader to understand specific stories in the light of broader
mythic themes. Any part of this text can be useful in relating myths to each
other and to the general human condition. (MAC)
Cohen, Beth (1994).
"From Bowman to Clubman: Herakles and Olympia." Art Bulletin
Cohen discusses the evolution of Herakles in Greek art. She gives background information on Herakles’ various weapons, including frequency of use in literary sources and classical art. The origins of Herakles’ bow and arrow may come from his origin as a barbarian hero-figure. The bow and arrow was not a common weapon of the Greeks and was generally associated with the Scythians and Persians. To incorporate Herakles into Greek society, artists began to depict Herakles with weapons other than the bow and arrow. The club allowed artists to express the strength of Herakles by showing him without typical Greek weapons. In Herakles’ depictions on the metopes from the temple of Zeus at Olympia, the club brings a sense of unity among the scenes and also establishes the club as Herakles’ chief weapon in Greek thought. (RLC)
Di Sabantino, David.
“Disney Versus Christendom.” Newsmagazine
18 Aug. 1997: p33.
This article deals with the Christian organization opposition to the Walt Disney Co. because of its unwholesome entertainment choices. The article discusses the Hercules movie and how it flopped in the theaters. It touches on the differences between the myth of Herakles and the misinterpretation in the Disney. (BD)
Georges (1996). Archaic Roman Religion. Trans. Philip Knapp. Vol. 2
Explores the Roman belief system in the gods and its effects on the history of Rome. Discusses the Greek gods and their incorporation into Roman culture. Chapter entitled “The First Literary Evidence” uses primary sources like Homer, Hesiod and Herodotus to back up evidence of Hercules cults. “The Gods of the Merchants” explores the relationship of Hercules and the communities that had direct links to cult practices. (KG)
John (1989). Among The Gods: An Archaeological Exploration of Ancient Greek
Religion. New York: Routledge Ltd.
Ferguson uses physical evidence from excavation sites to explain the use of temples and sanctuaries of Greek worship and cult practices. He details the rituals and sacrifices performed at the altars and dates the Herakles cult at nine specific altars and charts the cults’ progression into surrounding areas and the building of new sanctuaries. (KG)
(1986). “Herakles in Greek and
Roman Mythology,” in Jaimee
Unlike many of the ancient heroes, Herakles has been able to maintain popularity because of his diverse nature. There were several reasons for his widespread following. One is the adaptation of regional myths into the grand collective of Herakles myth. This allowed him to become more than just a regional figure; he belonged to all of Greece. Another was cult status: for example the most popular story of Herakles was the Apotheosis. Many Greeks enjoyed this story because it allowed them to believe that mortals may become immortal through good deeds. This following allowed Herakles to achieve cult status and thus increased his popularity even further.
W.K.C. (1995). The Greeks and Their Gods. Boston: Beacon Press.
Guthrie examines the Greeks’ belief system. He investigates the relevance of the relationship between worship of the gods and their particular way of life. He organizes chapter headings to explain the Greek belief in mythology and the relevance of each of the twelve gods to worship and divine power.
Hadas, Moses, and Morton Smith. Heroes and Gods: Spiritual Biographies in Antiquity. New
York: Harper & Row, 1965.
Heroes and Gods is a book in the Religious Perspectives series that demonstrates the connection of heroes and gods throughout history. It analyzes the personalities of the heroes and the cult practices involved in their worship. The book also describes the reinterpretation of heroes and gods in different literary genres over time. It goes into detail about the famous heroes, and ancient authors who deal with mythology. Herakles is mentioned many times within the book. (BD)
J.E.(1992). Epilogemena: Brief Summary of the Origins of Greek Religion.Virginia:
The Alexandrian Press.
Harrison looks at sacrifice among the Greeks, starting with primitive ritual and its growth into an organized way of worship. Harrison also looks at the significance of the fertility ceremonies as well as the ceremonies that involve initiation and King/God worship, and provides background to Herakles’ role as both hero and god. (KG)
H. W. (1991). "Chapter Five." In History of Art.
New York: Prentice Hall, Inc. and Harry
N. Abrams, Inc.
This chapter discusses the more important details of Greek art. It begins with a brief overview of the Greek culture and then begins to address the actual aspects of the different styles in chronological order: geometric, orientalizing, Archaic art (vase painting and sculpture), architectural sculpture and architecture, Classical art, and Hellenistic art. A brief summary of each of these different elements is given. Herakles himself receives little attention in this chapter. Even when the chapter turns to him, he is written about merely as the subject matter of a particular work. There is generally a line or two, though, which points out various artistic elements of the works he appears in, therefore this chapter can be used for a small amount of detail work. (BS)
C. (1962). The Religion of The Greeks and Romans. New York: E.P. Dutton
& Co., Inc.
Looks at religion of the Greeks and Romans in terms of cult places of the gods. Explores the sacred of both religions and their reflections on the Greek and Roman gods. Using evidence of vases, wall paintings, images on coins, temples, and sculptures, Kerenyi supports his evidence of cult worship with the help of visual aids. Brief discussion of Herakles in art. (KG)
G. S. (1975). The Nature of Greek Myths. Woodstock, NY: Overlook
Chapter 7, "The Heroes," focuses on the two types of heroes, older and younger. The type of hero depended whether the activities were before the Trojan War (older) or close to the war (younger). Kirk notes that the -eus name ending gave an idea of the type of hero. The older heroes consisted of Perseus, Bellerophon, Theseus, Cadmus, and Jason. The chapter lists each hero and gives brief background information about each one. Perseus and Cadmus had direct help from Athena, and Theseus was made “a great national hero”, by the Athenians by “associating him as closely as possible with Heracles”. The older heroes had more association with magic and myths.
Chapter 9, "The
Development of the Hero-Myth," deals
with components that make up the hero-myth.
These include: folktale motifs, history, cults and rituals, speculative,
aetiology, deliberate organizing, and wish-fulfilment.
In the heroic myths “similar ideas are employed over and over again in
relation to different personae and in different regional contexts”
The following: “the
use of tricks to surmount difficulties; transformations of physical shape;
fulfillment of a task or quest, often involving a giant or monster; accidentally
killing a friend or relative; attempting to dispose of an enemy by setting him
an apparently impossible task; winning a contest for a bride; killing one’s
own child for various reasons; founding a city or an institution; making use of
special weapons to overcome seemingly impossible odds; or journeying to the
underworld”, cover most of the actions of most known heroic myths.
Kjellberg, E. and
Saflund, G. (1968). Greek and
Roman Art. New York: Thomas Y.
Crowell and Company.
This book is an overview of art forms from the Aegeans, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans from 3000 BC to AD 550. While more emphasis is placed upon Greek art than the other areas of discussion, Roman art receives much attention as well. It's interesting to learn how much the Romans depended on Greek artists and styles as a foundation for their own sculpture, architecture, etc. Often the Romans would find aspects of Greek art that they liked and then implement it in their own works. Often, especially when dealing with sculpture, this was done by using Greek artists to perform the sculpting (this would give it the perfection and style of the Greeks) and then by modifying certain aspects of the work (which would prove to make it a "Roman" piece and ensure that the Roman society was being reflected in the work).
book is an important text for comparing diversities between the arts in any of
the four previously mentioned areas. Its
easily read style and helpful glossary make this a very useful resource when
dealing with representations in art--as for Herakles though, he is not a topic
of discussion and only appears in illustration three times. (BS)
Colin M. (1969). Greek Coins and History: Some Current Problems. London:
Methuen & Co. Ltd.
Kraay examines some of the inaccuracies in dating coins from the past. He gives a few specific examples of coins that have been dated after decades of attributing the wrong date to them. One way of establishing dates of coins is to look at the literary traditions and compare them to the action being portrayed on the coin. This may cause problems as well because the established dates of some literary traditions are not always accurate. Many inaccuracies have been discovered because of the ability to date coins through new found sources and the ability to associate some coins with other coins, whose dates have been established. Although new dates have been established for some coins, there is no definitive answer. One dated coin may contradict another, so there is a continual process of examining coins and comparing them to new sources of literature and other coins. (RLC)
Mary (1994), “The Prodikean ‘Choice of Herakles’: A Reshaping of Myth.”
Classical Journal 89, pp. 163-81
Mary Kuntz’s article addresses the question as to whether or not mythological stories and characters were changed when used by writers towards some specific end. In dealing with this question, Kuntz refers to Prodicus’ “Choice of Herakles.” Prodicus’ “Choice of Herakles” is a discourse on ethics geared towards Greek youths. The story shows Herakles as a youth being confronted by a decision to choose between vice and virtue. The story lies outside of Herakles’ known biography. Since there is little known concerning the details of Prodicus’ actual story, Kuntz focuses primarily on the overall structure of the story. By focusing on the structure of the story, Kuntz claims that it can be seen that Prodicus modeled the story from earlier Greek myths. Kuntz concludes that the Prodikean “Choice of Herakles” provides support for the claim that 5th century writers were influenced by myths and that they used these myths and often times transformed them by giving them a new meaning or purpose. Further investigation is required in order to see if 5th century writers affected the way in which people came to understand myths. (CMD)
Richmond (1955). The Dramatic Presentation of Herakles by Euripides.
Lattimore discusses the character of Herakles as a tragic hero as well as his role in many comic and satiric plays. He uses many works such as Aristophanes’ Wasps, Birds, and Frogs, the poetry of Bacchylides and Pindar, and other plays by Euripides such as Syleus, and Alkestis, and Sophokles’ Trachiniai. All of these works are mentioned in order to support the idea of Herakles being a tragic hero. For instance, Herakles must face constant suffering from Hera, and even though he accomplishes great heroic deeds he still must always worry about the protection of his children and loved ones. However, most of the article focuses on Euripides' play about the death of Megara and her three sons by the hands of Herakles. Lattimore touches on Herakles’ devotion to his children and their affection towards him. Excellent source for examples of Herakles’ character, as Euripides put it, “...A hero capable of suffering and pity.” (CW)
Steven H. (1993). Dance and Ritual Play in Greek Religion. Maryland:
Johns Hopkins University Press.
Investigates the ruins of sanctuaries and temples that have evidence of cult worship through dance. Argues that dance was also used as way of communication with the gods. Follows the origins of the gods and compares evidence of their worship in terms of how people communicated with a particular god and whether they participated in a ritual of dance. Uses literary references to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Also compares ritual in the Olympic games to the ritual of dance and initiation. Provides an overview of this aspect of Greek religion. (KG)
Deborah (1996). Gender and Immortality. Princeton University Press, Chapter
Examines the heroic actions, traits and characteristics the gods of Mt. Olympus in order to establish their essential nature. The chapter also analyzes the structure of relationships between heroic and divine figures in Greek myth and cult discusses the conflicts between Herakles and Hera and how they continually recur through literature. (KG)
Nanno (1988). Celebrations of Death and the Symbolism of the Lion Hunt. (in)
Celebrations of Death and Divinity in the Bronze Age Argolid. Editor-Robin Hagg.
This essay explores the relationship between man and lion in Mycenean art. The author illustrates the “Mycenean mentality” by examining depictions of lions on vases and other media. The most common motif shows a single man fighting a lion, illustrating ideas of lion as aggresor and man vs. nature. Herakles' name is only mentioned once when the author talks about lion skins. This is a helpful resource for Mycenean culture and the background of Herakles. (HC)
Phillip (1971). Classical Mythology in
Literature, Art, and Music. New York: New York University.
In-depth 508 page text exploring Greek mythology in early and modern literature, art, and music. Author gives an easy to comprehend introduction to Greek mythology. He discusses Homer, Hesiod, and Euripides at length in book, and interprets how modern literary masters such as Shakespeare, Bryon, Shelly, and Melville use Greek mythology. Mayerson discusses Herakles’ connection with the monsters he encountered during his adventures. Easy text to comprehend with numerous illustrations and citations of Greek works. (JR)
McLeish, Kenneth (1996). Myth.
New York: Facts on files, Inc.
736 page text, comparing different world myths, and suggesting archetypal connections or similarities between different civilizations. World myths are listed alphabetically for ease of research and cross-referencing the many comparisons between myths. Author identifies main and secondary Greek gods, heroes, and monsters. Text lists numerous adventures of Herakles. Cross-referencing within the text is overwhelming and may be difficult for the novice researcher. (JR)
(1946). “Heracles: Best of Men.” In Greek
Studies. Oxford: University Press, 106-26.
Gilbert Murray’s article examines the relationship between myths and the changes that occur in society. Murray shows that myths had to be reinterpreted in order to survive. Murray also argues that traditional myths could be used to show that there was a need to change society. Murray compares Euripides’ “Madness of Herakles” with Sophocles’ “Trachiniae”. When portraying Herakles, Euripidies removes some of Herakles’ less desirable qualities such as greediness, lust, and destructiveness. In doing this, Euripides changes the traditional mythical figure of Herakles into a hero for the 5th century Greeks. Sophocles does just the opposite in the “Trachiniae”. It is the negative qualities of Herakles that are accentuated in “Trachiniae”. Murray believes that Sophocles was trying to make a statement when he placed emphasis on Herakles’ grosser qualities. In the “Trachiniae” Sophocles attacks the traditional values people held to show that there was a need to reevaluate the present values of Greek society. Sophocles was attempting to challenge the way in which women were treated in Greek culture. Herakles, who is supposed to be the best of men, is shown to be cruel and abusive towards his wife, Deianira. If Greeks truly believed Herakles was the best of men, then they needed to reconsider how Herakles treated women and how this reflected their attitude towards women. (CMD)
(1975). Man, Myth, and Monument.
William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Man, Myth, and Monument is a history/ mythology book that connects the true history of Greece with its mythological history. It connects archaeology, literature, sociology of ancient Greece to explain the truths behind many of the myths and legends of Greece. It is a very well researched and documented text. It explains many of the symbols of the stories and tries to explain their origin and how they have changed throughout the generations. One of the chapters deals with Herakles and his labors. It describes how the first six labors, which all happened in the Peloponnesos, all could be interpreted as dealing with farming and irrigation. All six deal with water and Herakles’ victories over nature. Through the use of history and ecology, it explains how Herakles could be viewed as nothing more than a hydroengineer, since every site of the first six labors could have been farm areas that were in danger of hydro disaster. The book is very informative and detailed. (BD)
Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (1989). Edited by M.C. Howatson,
Oxford University Press.
A book with an encyclopedia format that displays information about Greek and Roman literature. Also includes modern works which have influences from the classical world. Excellent source for information about Herakes. Four pages are devoted to certain aspects of Herakes and his life. Within those pages there is a section about the Heracleidae, which supplies a brief explanation of their story of conquering the Peloponnese. The Dorians are also mentioned here. One page is describes Herakles’ his heritage and his powers and briefly descusses his life from birth to death. The text also describes Herakles’ twelve labors. There are brief sections about literature such as, Euripides’ Children of Herakles, and The Madness of Herakles, also on Seneca’s plays Hercules furens and Hercules Oetaeus. It also explains about the different spelling of Herakles as Hercules. (CW)
Pike, D. L. (1977).
“Herakles: The Superman and Personal Relationships.” Acta
Classica 20, 73-83.
This article attempts to examine Herakles’ relationships with women. The author examines nine different relationships Herakles has with women and focuses primarily on his relationship with Deianeira. The author concludes that Herakles’ relationships with women tend to lead towards destruction and misery for the women. Herakles’ relationship with Deianeira ultimately leads to Herakles’ death as well. Pike categorizes Herakles as a superman. The superman is defined as a courageous fighter, capable of performing amazing feats of strength and endurance. Due to the nature of the superman, there is no suitable female counterpart for him. The author also contends that it is because of Herakles’ nature that his wife inadvertently kills him. Had Herakles not spent so much time away from his wife and had he been faithful to her then he would not have suffered such a terrible fate. This article is written for an audience of upper level and graduate students. The article will be of interest to people who wish to investigate the moral behavior of Herakles. (CMD)
Anton (1990). Euripides, Women, and Sexuality. New York, NY:
This book gives and excellent interpretation of Herakles as a homosexual figure in Euripides' "Cyclops" and "Alcestis." Discusses parallels between the two plays, such as Herakels' drunkedness, gluttony, singing, and most importantly, his seductive nature towards male figures. Briefly examines the friendship between Herakles and Theseus. Analyizes Herakles 'marriage to Hebe. Gives a brief analysis of the nameless daughter of Herakles and her relationship to youth. Talks about Euripides’ "Heraclidae" as a "strong patriotic play" about youth and its emphasis on the young woman rather than the young man. (HC)
Barry B. (1998). Classical Myth. Upper
Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
671 page text detailing Greek classical mythology. In-depth description of the role of Zeus and various Greek Gods. Author interprets excerpts from, and not limited to, Homer, Hesiod and Euripides. Author dedicates over 200 pages specifically to the exploits of Herakles. Detailed discussion on the twelve labors and Herakles’ affiliation with the Gods and mythological monsters. Excellent text filled with illustrations, charts, and Greek artifacts. (JR)
Rank, Otto (1932).
The Myth of the Birth of the Hero and Other Writings. New York: Vintage Books.
The Myth of the Birth of the Hero and Other Writings looks at the origin of many myths and how they are connected. Rank, with much research, traces the origin of heroes and the common bonds they share in many myths. The book is very dense and hard to read at times. The book only has five pages dealing directly with Heracles, but reveals much about the world of myths. It describes the rape of an Athenian woman in his fight against Augeus, gives a brief summary of the Herakles legend, and compares his childhood to that of Moses. (BD)
Rappaport, Roy A.
and Religion in the Making of Humanity.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Explains the use of ritual form in religion. Uses evidence of ritual from primitive man to civilized cultures. With headings like “Ritual Defined” and “Ritual as Communication,” it is an easy tool for quick research on specific topics concerning ritual and religion. Uses the primary sources of Homer and Hesiod to support ritual found in mythology. (KG)
Richardson, Donald (1996). Hercules
and Other Legends of Gods and Heroes. New Jersey: Gramercy Books.
This source is an excellent starting point for anyone who would like to know more about Greek mythology but does not know where to begin. This book is a contemporary retelling of Greek myths and legends, where famous Greek gods and heroes are chronologically arranged in a way that preserves the richness of the ancient authors. Two chapters focus solely on Hercules and chronicle two essential periods in his life: The Young Hercules and The Labors and Apotheosis of Hercules. These two chapters provide insight into the childhood years of Hercules as well as his later years, dealing specifically with the twelve labors. Although the rest of the book does not focus primarily on Hercules, it provides background information that helps to lay a foundation of Greek mythological history. (KF)
Slater, Philip E. (1968). The Glory of Hera: Greek Mythology
and the Greek Family. Boston: Beacon Press.
This book explores the psychological aspects of the Greeks and of humans in general, using Freudian psychoanalysis. Slater uses modern case studies to discuss why men might be scared of women and how they exhibit this fear. Slater tries to discover why the Greeks behaved as they did. The book is divided in to three sections: the first discusses the Greek Mother - Son relationship, the second focuses on the "mythological defenses against maternal threat," and the third shows statistics and cross-cultural studies of "maternal ambivalence and narcissism.” Slater's book is a helpful source if you are searching for primary sources dealing with Herakles. There are many other mythological figures mentioned as well. He reinforces his ideas and discussions with a number of primary sources that one can then go investigate further if s/he would like more information. Slater devotes an entire chapter to Herakles, and to Hera's involvement with him. (RC)
Bernard 1986. “Hercules as Hero
for Seneca.” In Jaimee Uhlenbrock,
Seneca approached the depiction of Hercules differently than earlier Greek poets. He portrays Hercules on a more psychological level than other poets. Seneca is less interested in the Twelve Labors than he is the importance of the Hercules figure as a Stoic hero/god. Seneca pays attention to minor characters and develops them more fully to give them more definition than in Greek plays; for example, in Hercules Furens, Seneca justifies Juno’s hatred for Hercules. Stambler argues the idea that Seneca, the emperor Nero’s mentor, portrayed Hercules’ madness as he did because of Nero’s fits of madness. Through Hercules Seneca was able to justify Nero’s madness and the ability of good to come from it.
Wm. (1984). Amazons: a Study in Athenian Mythmaking.
This book is about the Amazons in Greek mythology and their way of living. He discusses such issues as Amazons in war and their mating customs, describing how the defeat of Amazons represents bringing chaotic and feminine forces under masculine control. Tyrrell compares Theseus and Herakles and how they relate to the Amazons. He discusses the ninth labor in detail. He states that the earliest literary version of this labor is in Euripides’ Herakles in 417 BC. He discusses the symbolism and significance of the girdle and refers to the symbolic rape of Hippolyta. He briefly discussed Herakles’ death and how Deianira plays a ‘Clytemnestra’ role. This is an excellent resource of the study of Amazons and how they relate to heroes such as Herakles. (HC)
Jaimee (1986). “The Herakles
Motif in Classical Art.”
Looks at the various transitions of Herakles in Classical Art. Discusses the problems with distinguishing Herakles from other heroes in the Geometric Period, because the same attributes and deeds were ascribed to these different heroes. In the Archaic Period, the depiction of Herakles underwent a standardization of key aspects. Uhlenbrock attributes this codification to the rise of Peisistratos in Athens. Peisistratos was a tyrant who took over Athens in the sixth century BC and accomplished this by being led by “Athena” into the city. His guards brandished clubs instead of more popular swords. After Peisistratos’ ascension to power there was a trend to depict Herakles with Athena and using a club instead of any other weapons. (RLC)
Jean –Pierre (1991). Mortals
and Immortals. New
Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Discusses the specifics of myth and cult. Uses Herakles as an example of both Man and God and explains how the myth of Herakles’ duality originated (27-49) Part one deals with the idea of mortality and the difference between Herakles and the other divine figures, comparing the mortality and labors of Herakles to Homer’s Odysseus. Looks at the way death is portrayed in Greek society and views of the afterlife. Vernant also looks at the image of Herakles being part of the divine. (KG)
Did the Greeks Believe In Their Myths?
The University of Chicago Press.
This essay is an interpretation of mythology and its gods and heroes and whether or not there is any truth in them. It questions the timeframe in which the different cultures that worshipped Herakles say he lived. Herodotus found that even though many cultures did in fact worship Herakles, the time that they gave him did not match up with Greek mythology. Veyne points out that even though the Greeks knew that some of the monsters did not exist, they still believed in the heroes that killed them. (AH)
Katharine and David Curzon (1989). Translator’s Preface to Euripides’ The
Madness of Heracles. In David R. Slavitt and Palmer Bovie, Euripides, 4.
University of Pennsylvania Press.
Washburn opens with a brief appaisal of The Madness of Heracles. She goes on to compare Herakles’ horrible deed to that of Sophocles’ hero, Ajax. Excellent source for discovering the reasons why the important parts of the play were written the way they were. Also reveals the significance of key scenes. Curzon goes into detail about how they came about translating the play into a form that was easier to read. (CW)
Roy (1993). World Mythology.
New York: Henry Holt & Company.
Text is 315 pages with discussions and comparisons of world mythology. Emphasis on individual civilizations; discussions of creation, death, and myths of Egypt, Japan, China, and India, with a concentration on Greek mythology. Extensive use of Greek art, along with detailed illustrations, aid in the review of the Pre-Olympian and Olympian Gods. Detailed discussion pertaining to Herakles and his connection with mythological monsters is detailed. Additional examples of the exploits of Herakles are located throughout the entire text. (JR)
Burleigh, Robert (1999).
Hercules. NY: Harcourt
Brace & Co.
This is a picture reader book that is full of illustrations for the young child. It provides a factual list of characters and places but is a story about Hercules. It is a very watered down version of the twelve labors that focuses mainly on the last labor. This book is a good starting place for children just learning to read. (KF)
Cerasini, Marc (1997).
The Twelve Labors of Hercules.
NY: Random House Inc.
This is not a factual detailed depiction of Hercules, it is a story book. This is a “step into reading” book that is targeted at second and third graders. It provides a brief history of Hercules’s birth, young life, and his twelve labors. It is forty-eight pages and is illustrated. This book is a good starting place for young children to be introduced to Hercules. (KF)
D'Aulaire, Ingrid and
Edgar. Book of Greek Myths. New York: Doubleday. 1962.
Comprised of 200 pages, the myths start with the beginning of time and ends with the termination of Olympian Rule. This book is perfect for the young adult reader with relatively simple artwork and stories that are easy to follow. This book covers all of the standard Greek Myths, and while it stays generally on track of the standard legends, it does seem to attempt to lessen the violence of Hercules' labors. It is written in more of a story than scholarly format, so it tends to leave out certain aspects of the tales, apparently to make them more interesting to children. (AM)
Leonard, Everett (1984). The Olympians:
Great Gods and Goddesses of Ancient
Lasky, Kathryn (1997).
Hercules, the Man, the Myth, the
Hero. New York: Hyperion
Books for Children.
This book is told in the voice
of Hercules. He recounts the
story of his life from this birth to his death. He details his conquests and
tragedies in a realistic but tamed down version that is perfect for a younger
audience. Hercules tells of his
god-like strength and how he must learn to control it in order to find peace.
Low, Alice (1985).
The Macmillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. NY: Macmillan
This is a great reference dealing with Mt. Olympus and all of the gods and goddesses. It chronicles the creation, births, and deaths of many of the major players in Greek mythology. It does focus on Hercules on pages 93-109 but deals only with his crime and the labors. It does not deal with the birth or death of Hercules but it serves as an excellent starting place for learning about Greek mythology. This book is aimed at a slightly older child that is a fairly comfortable reader. (KF)
Malam, John (1999).
Ancient Greece, Gods and Goddesses.
This is a great reference to consult about the Greek gods and goddesses. Although there are no references to Hercules, this provides much insight into the Greek religion, culture, and the gods and goddesses. All of this facilitates a great background for learning about Hercules. This book includes an extremely helpful glossary of terms and is fully illustrated. (KF)
Greek Myths. London:
Orchard Books, 1992.
This is a collection of sixteen
fully illustrated, favorite Greek Myths. Pages 51-59 of this collection are devoted to the story of
Hercules and the twelve labors. It
provides a brief account of his birth and death but focuses mainly of the
labors. This entire story is
brief but a good reference for young children and adults alike. (KF)
Neil. DK Annotated Guides: Myths and
Legends. New York: DK Publishing,
is a beautifully done book that, although the immediate focus is on the
artwork, does not leave out facts for the sake of its readers. The book's 128
pages has myths and heroes from all over the world, but devotes the largest
section to Greece an Rome. The book uses real artwork from various periods of
history including paintings, sculptures and other objects such as vases to
show the historical relationship to the actual people (in legend) it is
discussing. This book gets the highest rating for me as a reference point for
all age groups who are interested in seeing mythology in a beautiful if not
somewhat brief format. (AM)
Neil. The Illustrated Book of Myths: Tales
and Legends of the World. New
Illustrated Dictionary of Mythology – Heroes, heroines, gods, and
goddesses from around the world. London:
DK Publishing, 1998.
This dictionary focuses on
several main themes, such as: creation, good, and evil.
These themes are organized into concise factual entries including over
500 key characters. It is basically a visual guide to who is who in the mythology
world. This reference helps in
interpreting and understanding mythology through art, literature, drama, and
many other facets. (KF)