The Summer of Hercules recap

With the start of autumn, it is time to put an end to the Summer of Hercules. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of blog post about movies, graphic novels, a poem, and a monograph on the mightiest and most important of Greek (and Roman) heroes. Here’s a brief overview of all of the relevant posts:

I also posted announcements about these blog posts on my personal Facebook and Twitter profiles, which generated some interesting discussions. The most valuable, I think, was with respect to treatments of topics like Greek mythology, or the ancient world more generally, in popular culture.

David L. Reinke pointed out to me, with reference to movies in particular, that a film might be inaccurate, but nevertheless still authentic. I think that this distinction between accuracy and authenticity is a useful one. The movies discussed in the blog posts above are all, to various degrees, inaccurate when it comes to their portrayal of ancient Greece. Indeed, one of the more striking aspects is that film makers casually mix Greek and Roman elements together to create a kind of Greco-Roman pastiche. This holds true for Disney’s Hercules as much as it does for the peplum-movies.

Yet, a movie that is inaccurate can still be authentic. The peplum-movies fall into this category for me. Of the three Hercules movies released this year, I guess the Dwayne Johnson vehicle was probably the most authentic, even though it tried to historicize the Greek hero, which seems to me rather pointless. As regards the graphic novels, I think The Knives of Kush claim closest to being authentic, and it was less inaccurate than its prequel, The Thracian Wars.

Altogether, I devoted probably somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 words to Hercules and I could easily continue. But there’s a time and place for everything and it’s time, for now, to put Hercules to rest.

Some things that I did not write about this time include a better treatment of Heracles in the ancient sources (both texts and art – there’s a lot of ground to cover there!), his role in Roman culture (and Romanized areas of the Empire), or his appearance in videogames, such as Liquid Entertainment’s Rise of the Argonauts (2008), which I have enjoyed playing and may nevertheless write about in a more general way at some point.

As always, feel free to leave your comments and tell me if you liked this series of blog posts or not, and if you would like to see something like this again in the future. I’m thinking about doing something similar, if shorter, on the Greek hero Theseus, for example, which will also allow me to focus a little on Athens and Attica as the same time.

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