Hercules and the Hydra

Media - 1966.47.71 - SAAM-1966.47.71_1 - 60517
Copied Paul Manship, Hercules and the Hydra, 1964, gilded bronze on marble base, 8 1243 in. (21.610.17.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Paul Manship, 1966.47.71

Artwork Details

Hercules and the Hydra
8 1243 in. (21.610.17.6 cm.)
Credit Line
Bequest of Paul Manship
Mediums Description
gilded bronze on marble base
  • Figure male
  • Mythology — classical — hydra
  • Mythology — classical — Hercules
Object Number

Artwork Description

Paul Manship modeled many sculptures of Hercules, the son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmena. Zeus’s wife, Queen Hera, was jealous of Hercules and tormented him so much that he murdered his own family in a fit of insanity. As punishment, he was sentenced to serve twelve labors for his cousin and enemy, Eurystheus. These included strangling the Nemean lion, whose skin was impenetrable, destroying the many-headed Hydra, and stealing the belt from the Amazon queen Hippolyte. His final labor was to capture Cerberus, a three-headed dog from the kingdom of the dead. Hercules had many more adventures after these tasks were completed, including stealing the Delphic tripod from his half-brother Apollo, and killing the giant Antaeus. Antaeus gained strength every time he touched his mother, the earth, so Hercules defeated him by lifting him high above his head.