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Recent Sculpture: ‘Playful’: Infant Hercules

Playful: Infant Hercules, plaster, 65cm(h)

These images are of a recent sculpture that I have been developing.  The working title is   ‘Playful’ and it is of an infant Hercules.  A baby plays with a small lizard, a ‘Gecco,’ to be exact and dangles it from his fingers by the poor creature’s tail.  The lizard has not been included yet.

Another view

The infant Hercules, a product of Zeus’s infidelity, incurred the wrath of Hera.  She sent venomous snakes to the baby’s crib and Hercules killed them.  Examples of this theme in Greek art date back at least to the Hellenistic period.

View of back

Within the Christian era, the hero’s journey has been identified with that of Jesus.  The interesting phenomenon of the intermixing of antique and christian iconography during the 17th century led to images of baby Jesus slaying the serpent.


Both of these traditions portray this theme with a predetermined moral stance and definitive outcome.  ‘Playful’ attempts to go beyond these precepts and express the natural impetus of the action.  It is playful.   Curiosity leads us to explore the world and through experience discover a moral truth.


I modelled a gecco in terracotta and will post a photo of the complete sculpture a bit later.  On a technical note:  there is a some distortion in the photos.  The arm reads big in several of the shots.  Still working on perfecting the photography skills.

Front view
3/4 view

4 thoughts on “Recent Sculpture: ‘Playful’: Infant Hercules

  1. Not having heard this one before was wondering if the Greeks would have equated strength with wisdom? The other stories of Hercules seemed to have that dual emphasis.

    1. Thank you for the comment Shane. The answer in short would be probably not. The cult of Hercules is an extremely ancient one. There are many parallels in other traditions as well. Usually the hero overcomes his obstacles via overwhelming force and/or perseverance instead of the creative use of accumulated knowledge.

      My feeling is that the ancient Greek concept of ‘Wisdom’ is different of than our modern Anglo-saxon idea. Odysseus is the first Greek hero to be recognized for his intelligence and wily wisdom.

      1. “Great men are not always wise:”
        •• Job
        Is your title synonymous with artfulness?
        I was thinking about how the modern heroes with great strenght are often depicted as brutish.

      2. What a great quote and so true. The title is applies to both the thematic interpretation of the work and the action represented. The sculpture is of a baby actually playing with a small lizard. When applied to the theme of infant Hercules, the piece shuffles the normal iconography usually associated with this subject.

        My interest is the ambiguity of action and how experience (and destiny) creates out moral ethics. In the sculpture, as the baby dangles the lizard(will have photos soon) the other hand makes a fist.

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