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Magical Girdles and Herculean Labours - Chronarchy

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February 12th, 2009


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09:33 am - Magical Girdles and Herculean Labours
Some may recall that I located a reference to a Roman military belt that is fitted with gold plates depicting the deeds of Hercules in a German text. I have had a thing for the Twelve Labours since I found statutes of eight of them at the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna in 2005.

Well, I've located the plates and, indeed, they're clearly Hercules (as a matter of note, I prefer the name "Heracles," but this is a Roman belt, after all. . .).

Roman Hercules Belt


Clearly depicted are Cerberus (who I prefer to call "Spot"), the Stag, and the Girdle. I don't believe there's enough of the lower-left piece to figure out which one it might be, though since the guy holding the club doesn't appear to be wearing a lion skin, perhaps it's the Nemean Lion (a Labour that would make sense on a soldier's belt).

I can just imagine the feeling of power this soldier must have felt, wearing this belt into battle. It was like he was enacting the mythic drama of Hercules, and I suspect that the belt also reminded him that the duty of being a soldier was not without labour and work, as well, but that even the most basic task could be heroic, if done by the right person. It's a fabulous piece, and I wish more if it were still intact.

I love my library system here at OSU.

Statues of the Twelve Labours at the Hofburg Imperial Palace


The Nemean Lion





The Lernean Hydra



The Cretan Bull



The Belt of Hippolyte



The Apples of Hesperides



Cerberus


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Anyone know which these two are? I don't.


Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: "Rancho Deluxe", -JB

(20 comments Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:tesinth
Date:February 12th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
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Anyone know which these two are? I don't.

Hmmm, "Lover's Quarrel" and "Make-up Sex" I do believe. :)

Edited at 2009-02-12 02:54 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
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Huh, I wonder if those were two of the "lost labours" that Peisandros of Rhodes wrote about?
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
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*nods* I've often wanted to trace the use of the two names to see why the Roman became so much more popular, but haven't really had the time.

I'll bet there's some poor PhD's dissertation somewhere, gathering dust, entitled, "Hercules and Heracles: An Evolution of Preference and a Discussion of Greco-Roman Confusion in Post-Renaissance European Courts"
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[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
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I'm amused: the Wikipedia article on Hercules in popular culture indicates that it is indeed around the renaissance where they get conflated. I'm astounded! Who needs the library when you have Wikipedia?

Or, we could just watch Hercules in New York and be done with it. Who needs Wikipedia when you have the Governator?

Yes, you should read the plot synopsis.
[User Picture]
From:wishesofastar
Date:February 12th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
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Heh. That's the direction my mind was headed in, but you got there first (and made a better crack, no doubt).
[User Picture]
From:peaceful_fox
Date:February 12th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
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I am sure you won't be surprised to find out that I took photos of those as well! :-D
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
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Not a bit! Did you find the ones I'm missing? For the life of me, I could not locate all 12!
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From:peaceful_fox
Date:February 12th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
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I have to go home to see which ones I have. I'll let you know when I look at the photos tonight!
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[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
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It appears you are correct!
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
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I am guessing that it's also not a labour, as I simply can't locate anything in it that looks iconic enough to actually designate it as such. Of course, do I remember if it was paired with the one of Heracles and the giant? No, I do not. *sighs* I'll be sifting through info on Heracles for a while, I suspect, looking for the smoking gun here.
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[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 13th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Good catch, and fixed. Thanks. . . I'm usually pretty anal about checking my links. I suppose work has gotten more complicated, if I'm neglecting to do even that.
[User Picture]
From:ns_kumiho
Date:February 12th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Second one looks like Heracles' battle against Antaeus.

Not sure on the first one.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
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You, too, seem to win the prize for that second one.
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From:chronarchy
Date:February 12th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Haha. Score one on this test, then! That confirms it! (You did pass that test, right?)
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From:verginiamus
Date:February 13th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
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Thanks for posting this. I am a civilian re-enactor with a Roman Legionary group (Legio XX). They are always looking for this sort of stuff. (Yes, I have a life outside of ADF.)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 13th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
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My pleasure. I knew others would be interested: it's a darn cool belt.
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From:singingwren
Date:February 13th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
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The thing on the lower left looks like it is sideways. Don't you see an eagle in it, or some kind of big winged bird?
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:February 13th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
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I s'pose it could be: there were birds in those labours, after all. But that would put Heracles on his back, which doesn't sound too heroic.

Speaking iconographically, of course. There are plenty of heroic things one could do on their back.

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