Hercules at the Crossroads: Sources, Models, and Variations
According to legend, Hercules was sitting at a crossroads and he saw two beautiful girls passing; one was Evil and the other was Virtue. Virtue suggested that he follow a narrow and difficult path full of sharp stones and thorns, which would be crossed with difficulty, but in the end he would win love and recognition. The evil one suggested following the easy path, wide and straight, where he would enjoy life and wealth, but he would be commit iniquities and injustices. Hercules followed the path of Virtue, giving him glory and recognition for his good deeds. The relating of his choice at the crossroads has been constantly repeated in literature and in art, becoming one of the most popular topics from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance.
As is well known, every divine or heroic figure, as well as every mythological theme, exhibits relevant differences depending on the author, the occasion, the epoch and also the genre to which the text belongs, but there is no doubt that the persistence and the vitality of the myth seem to be particularly connected with this compelling blend of elements. In the vast fabric of Greek mythology, among all the mythological figures, Hercules is certainly the Greek hero who holds an outstanding position, exceptional by the virtue of his labours (Panofsky 1999). As on the divine plane ‘everything begins with Zeus,’ so on the human plane almost all heroes of different generations, locations and tales are somehow connected...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.