Hercules | Granta

  • Published: 02/10/2006
  • ISBN: 9781862078772
  • 130x20mm
  • 224 pages


Alastair Blanshard

From Ovid and Virgil to the muscle beaches of Malibu, Hercules has made an indelible impression on Western culture. Hercules is the original hero: half-god, half-man; strong, handsome and virile; triumphant in his twelve labours yet ultimately victim of his tragic destiny. He has been variously portrayed for thousands of years in sculpture, painting and verse, and more recently depicted on stage and screen. Roman emperors, renaissance princes and totalitarian dictators have all attempted to appropriate his image. This unconventional biography of Hercules charts his life from his dramatic birth in Thebes to his agonizing death on a flaming pyre. Along the way, it recounts many long-forgotten yet revealing adventures and shows Hercules to be much more than just a muscle-bound hero. His life story, which mixes elements of tragedy and comedy, often makes uncomfortable reading: a rapist, drunkard and transvestite, Hercules’ excesses explore some of the darkest recesses of human nature.

An acute and often witty study of an enduring figure in European culture, and one that succeeds in raising fascinating questions about our notions of masculinity

Sunday Times

You learn something on every page, while being entertained by the witty telling and the writer's lightly worn erudition


Blanshard provides a fascinating commentary on how Hercules has been portrayed through thousands of years in art and literature, on stage and screen

Good Book Guide

The Author

Alastair Blanshard is a Greek cultural historian who has taught classics at the universities of Oxford and Reading. He is currently Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland, Australia.

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