A «Festschrift» in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski
Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus: A Machiavellian Display for the Medici MICHAEL D. MORFORD 105
Michael D. Morford Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus: A Machiavellian Display for the Medici When the project for a pendant to Michelangelo’s David (fig. 1) was ini- tiated under the Republic as directed by the gonfaloniere, Piero Soderini, it was meant to represent victory using the Roman hero, Hercules, likely slay- ing Cacus. The sculpture was, as with the previous marble, to be a symbol of tyrannicide; David had destroyed one tyrant, Goliath, and Hercules would do the same with Cacus. The slaying of Goliath was deemed a necessary labor in the Old Testament to prove the faith of the young boy and to free his peo- ple from their tormentor. It was no less necessary, according to nearly all descriptions of the classical narrative, for Hercules to complete the similar task of freeing the innocents from evil; the monstrous Cacus was portrayed as a cause of great fear, and the inhabitants of the countryside needed to be freed from his torturous ways. In both of these original cases, the Medici were to be specifically considered the tyrants in the story, and the Republic, as David & Hercules, would be the hero while also celebrating the successful expulsion of the powerful family from Florence in 1494. Michelangelo, the loyal republican, was to design the Hercules specifi- cally for the opposite side of the main portal of the Palazzo della Signoria. The anti-Medici propaganda would have been quite powerful if finished by the master, but the commission was discontinued on the return of...
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