Hercules at the Crossroad

Hercules at the Crossroad

c. 1498

Albrecht Dürer

(German, 1471-1528)


Image: 32.4 x 22.2 cm (12 3/4 x 8 3/4 in.); Sheet: 32.4 x 22.2 cm (12 3/4 x 8 3/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1961.170

Catalogue raisonné: Meder 63

State: II/II



In his journal, Dürer referred to this engraving as The Hercules; however, art historians have not found a legend that clearly explains the scene. A fully dressed woman personifying Virtue prepares to bludgeon Pleasure and her satyr lover, a mythical woodland creature associated with lust and drunkenness. Hercules intervenes to protect them. Throughout the composition, Dürer contrasted signs of civilization and wilderness, such as the castle and the mountains in the background. Also, Hercules wields a rough club torn from the ground, whereas Virtue’s stick is cut and hewn. In two places, human feet and the wild satyr’s hooves point at each other, including one instance where Dürer’s monogram, AD, appears between them.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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