Hercules and Omphale - Passionate Paintings
20-01-2019    284 times
Hercules Omphale

In Greek mythology, Hercules or Heracles was the son of Zeus and was famous for his enormous physical strength and his numerous adventures. In consequence of some serious disagreement and dispute, Hercules killed one of his friends, Iphitos, the son of King Eurytos. He did it inadvertently in a fit of madness and stole the Delphic oracle’s tripod. However, later he became repentant and wished to expiate his sin. He, therefore, consulted the oracle of Apollo, who advised him to enter the service of Omphale, the beautiful Queen of Lydia, for three years (Apollodorus 2.6:3). Omphale was the daughter of Iardanus and the wife of Tmolus, the King of Lydia. When Tmolus was killed by a raging bull on the mountain that bears his name, Omphale became the queen of Lydia.

Abraham Janssens (Flemish 1567-1632)
Abraham Janssens (Flemish 1567-1632)
Alessandro Turchi (Italy 1578 - 1649)
Alessandro Turchi (Italy 1578 - 1649)
Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (Italy 1610-1662)
Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (Italy 1610-1662)

According to the oracle, Hercules was submitted to three years of servitude to atone for his faults. Bought as a slave by Omphale, the queen of Lydia, Hercules fought for her to capture the city of the Itones and enslaved them, killed the mischievous Syleus, who forced passersby to hoe his vineyard, and captured the mischievous forest creatures, Cercopes. He also buried the body of Icarus, who was drowned in the sea and took part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt and the Argonautica.

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Apart from that, there are many late Hellenistic and Roman references in texts and art to the effect that, as a slave Hercules (Heracles) was forced to do the women's job and even wear women's clothing and hold a basket of wool, while Omphale and her maidens did their spinning. To make a fun at the expense of the strong man, Omphale even wore the skin of the Nemean Lion and carried Heracles' olive-wood club.

Louis Jean Francois lagrenee (Fr 1725 - 1805)
Louis Jean Francois lagrenee (Fr 1725 - 1805)
Carlo Cignani (Italy 1628-1719)
Carlo Cignani (Italy 1628-1719)
Luigi Garzi (Italy 1638-1721)
Luigi Garzi (Italy 1638-1721)

However, it is unfortunate that, no full early account is available to supplement the later vase-paintings. Apparently, the little story was aimed to create a lot of comic and erotic literature over the years. Nevertheless, it is definite that, Heracles had some golden times with Omphale, the alluring Queen of Lydia.

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Initially, Hercules was treated as a slave by Omphale, but gradually, she fell in love with him for his super strength and physical beauty and a relationship grew between them. They travelled to the grove of Dionysus and planned to celebrate the rites of Bacchus at the dawn. Finally, they got married and had a child named Lamos.

The tale of Hercules and Omphale, found in both Greek and Roman mythology is told with a number of variations. Later, it became a great source of inspiration for the French and the Italian painters, as well as the Venetian artists, who painted a version of the same love scene. The works of Paul Rubens, Francois Boucher, Giovanni Francisco and François Lemoyne are among some of the most famous representations of this mythological theme.

Jacopo Amigoni (Italy 1682-1752)
Jacopo Amigoni (Italy 1682-1752)
Francois Boucher (France 1703-1770)
Francois Boucher (France 1703-1770)
Hercules And Omphale
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    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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