Head of Herakles
Plaster cast, Ministry of Culture Casts and Reproductions, Greece, 1988
Dimensions: H 14cm
Acc #: CC12, James Logie Memorial Collection
Copy of marble head of Herakles wearing the lion’s skin, sixth century BC
Found at ancient Agora, Athens
Ancient Agora Museum, Athens, #: S 1295
This head of the ancient Greek hero Herakles is in the archaic style, as is evident from his ‘archaic’ smile, almond-shaped eyes, and distinctive hairstyle. We know that this is Herakles because of the lionskin he wears. It is probable that the lion’s skin is the Nemean Lion, which Herakles fought in the first of his Twelve Labours, and with which he is frequently shown in ancient art. In Greek mythology Herakles kept the skin of the lion for a personal cloak.
The original marble statue was found in ancient Agora in Athens, which was central to political, economic, administrative, social, and religious activities. It is possible that the statue was given as a votive to Herakles.
There is a small circular hole at the back of the head and a second hole beneath the ear of the lionskin. These may have been part of the original sculpture, either to support the head or perhaps for an additional accessory.
A short selection of references for this work includes:
- Davidson Reid, Jane. 1993. The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s. Oxford: University Press
- Greek Ministry of Culture. 1988. Catalogue of Casts and Reproductions. Athens: Archaeological Receipts Fund
- Lullies, Reinhard and Max Hirmer. 1957. Greek Sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson
- Whitley, James. 2001. The Archaeology of Ancient Greece. Cambridge: University Press