Choose Category:

Home > Auctions > 9th September 2015 > Roman Hercules Torso

Print page | Email lot to a friend

Back to previous page

Use mousewheel to zoom in and out, click to enlarge
Gallery loading...

LOT 0367

Sold for (Inc. bp): £8,680

25" (45 kg, 63cm).

A Giallo Antico pink marble statue depicting the hero Hercules (Herakles) Bibax, draped in his lion skin, pulling it over his right shoulder and clutching the legs to his chest in his right hand; a bowl in the left hand, the lion skin slipped from his left shoulder and chest, its head hanging down from his left arm; the club supporting his relaxed left leg; the muscles in both legs well defined, his feet set on an integral rectangular base, the back with a rectangular recessed slot, continuing down to the heels, implying that the statue may have been an architectural attachment.

Property of a West London gentleman; ex Bonhams, New Bond Street, London, 21 April 2005, Lot 219.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Hercules was the Roman equivalent to the Greek Herakles and he was worshipped as the god of commercial enterprise, physical prowess and victory. His worship was introduced into Italy by Greek settlers where it eventually took over from that of the native Roman deity Semo Sancus who was the son of Jupiter and god of oaths, marriage, hospitality, law and contracts: like Hercules he was guardian of oaths. Hercules had many temples in the city of Rome and an altar was dedicated to him as Hercules Invictus where oaths were taken and business deals agreed; it was also commonly believed that the god had visited Rome during his tenth labour. He was a popular god due to being the conqueror of difficulties and a benefactor of mankind. In the eastern provinces he was often associated with the Phoenician god Melqart and it was in this guise that he had temples in the city of Tyre in Lebanon and even as far west as Cadiz in Spain. Hercules was the patron of gladiators and those who managed to survive the games and retire were presented with a wooden sword which they dedicated at the temple of Hercules Victor, standing on the banks of the Tiber to this day. He was the guardian of imperial power and became the personal deity of many emperors, most notably Commodus who is shown dressed as the god on the famous portrait bust in the Capitoline Museum in Rome.

Representations of Hercules commonly show him resting after completing his famous Twelve Labours, or, less commonly, drunk and carrying a wine cup where he is known as Hercules Bibax, "drunken Hercules". Hercules' association with drunkenness was already established in Athens during the early 4th century BC, with the comic dramatist Aristophanes depicting him as a high-living buffoon in 'The Frogs'. This trope reaches as far back as Homer's Iliad, in which the hero's drunkenness leads him to be expelled from a party by Eurytos, a humiliation which he later avenged by murdering Eurytos' son.