Erin Cole

MONTFAUCON, B. L'antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (Paris, 1719) 

Histoire d’Hercule et d’Antee


The image has been copper printed onto page 212 and was illustrated by Sepotero Nasoni. The image shows to scenic illustrations and is titled: ‘Histoire d’Hercule et d’Antee’. The first shows Hercules wrestling Antaeus.  According to Greek mythology Antaeus was a giant from Libya. He would persuade travellers going through his land to fight against him in battle; one of those travellers was Hercules. Hercules grabbed   Antaeus from his waist which weakened the giant thus managing to defeat him. (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.5.11).

Histoire d’Hercule et d’Alceste

The second illustration is an image of Hercules with Alcestis. Alcestis is the wife of King Admentus. Alcestis sacrificed her life to save the life of her husband Admentus. When Hercules goes to Thessaly to visit king Antaeus, he sees him mourning at which point Antaeus assures him that no family member of his family has died. Hercules later finds out the it was in fact Alcestis who died, so Hercules, being good friends of Admentus, descends into the underworld and fetches Alcestis and returns her to Antaeus. (Euripides Alcestis 1009-1035)

Les Travaux d’Hercule


Image 132 is copper printed on to page 218 and was illustrated by Beger, Maffei, Tire de Narbonne, N. Cabinet, Spon. The image is titled ‘Les Travaux d’Hercule’ which translates to ‘The Labours of Hercules’ and it is found in L'antiquité expliquée et representée en figures. Les Heros pervrnus a la Divinete published in Paris by Delaulne in 1724. There are six images in total, the majority of which portray Hercules fighting and strangling a three headed dog.

The three headed dog Cerberus, the guard dog of the underworld which prevented ghosts to leave the underworld. During his twelfth and final labour, Hercules’ task was to get Cerberus from the underworld. Cerberus was a vicious dog and belonged to Hades. As illustrated, the dog had three heads and had a snake for a tail. Hades had said to Hercules that he could take Cerberus as long as he took control of the wild dog without the use of any of his weapons (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.5.12). 



Image number 138 has been copper printed on to page 124 of L'antiquité expliquée et representée en figures. Les Heros pervrnus a la Divinete. The book was published in 1724 as part of a ten volume series, An English translation of the book was then published and distributed in 1721-1725 and is titled: ‘Antiquity Explained and Represented in Diagrams.’ Bernard de Montfaucon, the author of the book, was a French Benedictine monk who edited the works of the church fathers.

The image shows various illustrations depicting Hercules wearing a lion skin and holding a club. This is a typical representation of Hercules as the club was his weapon of choice and the lion skin represents his defeat and completion of his first labour which consisted of Hercules fighting the Nemean lion. (Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.5.1). In addition to this the illustrations also show Hercules to be with cupid or Eros. In Greek mythology Eros was believed to be the companion of Aphrodite and thought to have deprived Hercules from the use of his arms. Finally, there are also illustrations of Hercules with a bow and arrow which was also a weapon of choice for Hercules.


Apollodorus, & Frazer, J. G. The library. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press. 1961.

Bernard de Montfaucon 2013. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 08 May, 2013, from

Euripides. Euripides, with an English translation by David Kovacs. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1994. Accessed: 08/05/2013