Herakles strangling two snakes

Roman
Imperial Period
about A.D. 140–190


Dimensions

Stone (white marble sculpture): 45.1 x 35.9 x 75.6 cm (17 3/4 x 14 1/8 x 29 3/4 in.) Case (painted wooden base): 84.1 x 66.4 x 66 cm (33 1/8 x 26 1/8 x 26 in.)

Accession Number

1993.144

Medium or Technique

Thasian marble

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

Probably inspired by an Early Hellenistic Greek work.

Zeus appeared to the mortal woman Alkmene in the form of her husband Amphitryon, and Herakles was born from their union. Zeus’ wife Hera, infuriated by Zeus’ infidelity, sent two snakes to kill the child but Herakles, who had super-human strength from birth, easily killed the snakes in his cradle. Seeing this feat, Amphitryon, who knew that the child was not his own, recognized that Herakles was the offspring of a god and was reconciled to his wife.

Provenance

By 1990: with Hesperia Arts Auction, Ltd., 29 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019 (Hesperia Arts auction, November 27, 1990, The Park Lane Hotel, 36 Central Park South, New York, NY, lot 78); purchased at the Hesperia Arts auction by Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg, Royal-Athena Galleries, 153 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022 (Art of the Ancient World, January 1992, no. 20); gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg to MFA, April 21, 1993

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg