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 ii/ii
The rooster on the helmet of Hercules in this image may symbolize the hero's valor.
In his journal, Albrecht Dürer referred to this
enigmatic engraving as “the Hercules,” but
the image is not a typical representation of
the mythological hero’s 12 labors. The subject
derives from a Greek parable, where Hercules
decides between a life of pleasure or one of
virtue. The moral dispute plays out here as a
battle between two personifications, Virtue,
wielding a club, and Pleasure, lying with a
satyr. Hercules’s crossroad is a copse of trees
between two paths: the ascent to civilization
at left (pleasure?), or the winding river to the
wilderness at right (virtue?).
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