Some notes on Herakles Farnese

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, May 23, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    I was locked out of Coin Talk for about a week because of technical problems. Thanks to the help of the forum's staff I can now participate again under the name "Jochen1".

    This coin probably shows the real Herakles Farnese:

    The Coin:
    Thrace, Pautalia, Caracalla, AD 197-217
    AE 31, 17.16g, 31.24mm, 225°
    Bust, draped and cuirassed, laureate, l., holding shield with gorgoneion, top of
    spear behind
    Herakles, nude, standing r., crooked forward, r. foot set backward, l. hand
    behind back, holding lion skin over l. arm and resting with l. hand on his club,
    which stands on a heap of 9 stone bowls (Farnese type)
    Ref.: Ruzicka 592; Moushmov 4300
    rare, F+
    ex coll. Alexander Mergen
    ex coll. Dr. Reinhart Falter, München

    The Statue:

    The statue of the Herakles Farnese is a marble copy of a lost Hellenistic bronze statue of Lysipp of Sikyon c.330 BC, who has worked for Alexander the Great. The copy was made by the Roman artist Glykon of Athens c.211-217 AD. It was found 1540 in the Thermes of Caracalla in Rome and then erected in the Farnesian gardens (hence the name). Goethe has seen this statue 1787 AD and regarded it as the most important Roman sculpture. The coin shows a copy which probably was positioned in the gardens or parks of Pautalia which in ancient times was known as famous bath (Ruzicka).
    The depiction of the Herakles Farnese is interesting and curious too because it shows the hero not in the usual heroic position but in the state of fatigue. Hence the discrepancy which always has made this statue so appealing. It shows the hero after he has received the apples of the Hesperides which he - as commonly suggested - holds hidden behind his back. To get these apples he had to take the globe - which otherwise the giant Atlas bore on his shoulders - for himself because only Atlas was able to get these apples. When Atlas came back with the apples he refused to take back the globe but Herakles outwitched him. He offered to him to bear the globe if only he could lay a pillow under the globe because the globe was pressing so much. Atlas was dumb enough to take the globe - only for short as he assumed - and Herakles removed himself with the apples. The garden of Hesperides is said to be found in Lybia/Northern Africa on a promontory at the gulf of Syrte.
    Herakles Farnese now in the Museo Nazionale in Naples.

    BTW the famous Hercules in Kassel/Germany too is the Farnese type! This Hercules is a copper statue of the Greek demigod Herakles in the mountain park Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel (world heritage site). The statue, which is considered a landmark of the city of Kassel, is located at the top of a pyramid, which stands on the octagon, the giant castle. It was built in AD 1701-1717 under the Landgrave of Hessen-Kassel, a typical Baroque Building.
    Courtesy Ralf Roletschek (Wikipedia)

    Best regards
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    Sulla80, TIF, Theodosius and 8 others like this.
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  3. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I knew about the statue and have seen it in Naples. But I didn't know about the statue in Kassel/Germany.

    My Constantine issue:
    CON 1 HERCULES 1.jpg
    Marsyas Mike, Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
  4. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Glad to see you again! I'm sorry you had to change user names but I'm sure we'll all recognize you :).
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