Der Heldenkörper in Szene gesetzt

Die Muskeln des Hercules in Epos und Elegie


  • Petra Schierl



Hercules, Roman epic, love elegy, body, heroism, masculinity


Taking its cue from the portrayal of Hercules as muscleman in both films and ancient sculpture this article turns to poetry as a verbal art and examines when and how the hero's body comes into focus in Roman epic and elegy. It is argued that moments of crisis contrasting Hercules’ state in a given situation to his former heroic achievements give rise to representations of his body, while epic fight scenes rather draw attention to the bodies of his inferior opponents. The body is described through references to different body parts, qualified by attributes as masculine in elegiac contexts. A somewhat exotic word as tori suffices to highlight the hero’s muscular body.