Chronarchy (chronarchy) wrote,

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


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

Tags: heroes, history, myth, pictures

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