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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD

Primary Sources

Apollod. Apollod 1.6.1-1.6.2: The Gigantomachy.
1.8.1: Deianira.
1.9.9: Neleus.
1.9.19: Hylas.
2.4.5-2.8.5: The story of Heracles.
3.9.1: Heracles, Auge, and Telephus.
Ap. Rhod. Argon. 1153-1357
Aristoph. Birds 1565-1694: Heracles comes as an ambassador to Nephelococcygia.
Frogs 38-165: Dionysus encounters Heracles in the Underworld.
Bacchyl. 5.56-5.175: Heracles and Meleager.
16.13-16.35: Heracles, Iole, and Deïanira.
Eur. Alc. 477-1163, the end of the play: Heracles’ rescue of Alcestis.
Her. complete.
Heraclid. complete.
Hdt. 2.43.1-2.45.3: The worship of Heracles.
2.49.1-2.49.3: Melampus.
4.8.1-2.10.3: Heracles and Echidna.
7.193.2: Heracles and the Argonauts.
9.34.1-9.34.2: Melampus.
Hes. Sh. complete.
Th. 287-336: Geryones [Geryon], Echidna, Orthus, Cerberus, the Hyra, etc.
Th. 521-534: Prometheus.
Th. 979-983: Geryones [Geryon].
HH 15 Complete.
Hom. Il. 2.653-670: Tlepolemus, son of Heracles.
Il. 19.90-133: Agamemon recounts how Ate even blinded Zeus at the time when Heracles was born.
Od. 11.601-627: Heracles in the Underworld tells Odysseus about the capture of Cerberus.
Od.15.222-259: Melampus.
Od.11.281-297: Pero.
Hyg. 29: Alcmena.
30: Twelve Labors of Heracles.
31: Other Deeds of Heracles.
32: Heracles and Megara.
33: Heracles and the Centaurs.
34: Heracles and Nessus.
35: Heracles and Iole.
36: Heracles and Deïanira.
56: Busiris, Whom Heracles Killed.
99: Auge, Mother of Telephus.
129: Oeneus, Father of Deïanira.
137: Merope and Polyphontes.
162: Catalogue of Children of Heracles.
260: King Eryx.
Isoc. 4.56-4.65: The Athenians against Eurystheus.
11.30-11.40: The false tale of Heracles and Busiris.
5.33-5.34: The Athenians against Eurystheus.
5.109-5.115: Heracles as a spiritual inspiration.
10.23-10.25: Heracles and Theseus compared.
12.193-12.195: The Athenians against Eurystheus.
Livy 1.7: The story of Hercules and Cacus.
Luc. Prelude: Heracles.
Lys. 2.11-2.16: The Athenians against Eurystheus.
Ov. Her. 9: Deïanira to Hercules.
Met. 9.1-323: Heracles [Achelous, Deïanira, Nessus, birth and death of the hero].
Paus. 1.2.1: Heracles besieges Themiscyra with the aid of Theseus.
1.17.4: Heracles rescues Theseus.
1.19.3: Shrines of Heracles, Hebe, Alcmena.
1.27.6: A boar hunt, Cycnus, and Heracles.
1.32.6: The children of Heracles.
1.35.7: Read through 1.35.8: the mistaken identity of a corpse.
1.41.1-1.41.2: The tombs of Alcmena and Hyllus.
1.44.10: The tomb of Eurystheus.
2.10.1: A sanctuary and festival of Heracles.
2.13.8: A feast for Heracles and an unfortunate cupbearer.
2.18.4: Melampus.
2.18.7-2.18.9: The return of the Heracleidae.
2.25.8-2.25.9: The ruins of Tiryns; Electryon.
2.31.10: The living club of Heracles.
2.37.4: Heracles and the poison of the Hydra.
3.1.5-3.1.6: The return of the Heracleidae and the fate of Aristodemus.
3.15.3-3.15.6: The quarrel between Heracles and the family of Hippocoön.
3.15.9: Heracles establishes a santuary to Hera and sacrifices goats.
3.16.4-3.16.5: Heracles wrestles with Eryx.
3.21.8: Heracles, Apollo, and the founding of Cythium.
3.25.4-3.25.6: Heracles and Cerberus.
4.3.3-4.3.8: The return of the Heraclidae and the dispute between the descendants of Cresphontes and Aristodemus.
4.34.9-4.34.11: Heracles and the conquest of Asine.
4.36.1-4.36.5: Heracles and the cattle of Neleus.
4.36.2-4.36.3: Bias.
5.1.9-5.4.4: Augeas, the stables, the conquest of Elis, and Oxylus.
5.5.4: An eating contest.
5.5.9: The peculiar odor of the river Anigrus.
5.7.6-5.8.4: The origin of the Olympic games.
5.10.9: Representations of Heracles’ labors at Olympia.
5.11.4-5.11.6: Depictions of the exploits of Heracles beneath the throne of the statue of Zeus at Olympia.
5.13.2-5.13.4: Heracles and the Pelopium at Olympia.
5.14.1-5.14.2: Heracles sacrifices to Zeus Averter of Flies.
5.17.11: Representations of Iolaus and Heracles at Olympia.
5.18.4: Heracles, Atlas, and the apples of the Hesperides.
5.25.7: Two statues of Heracles.
5.25.11-5.25.12: Heracles fighting the Amazons and a statue of Heracles dedicated by the Thasians.
6.19.8: The treasury of the Epidamnians.
6.19.12: The treasury of the Megarians.
6.21.3: The tomb of Saurus and a sanctuary of Heracles.
6.25.2-6.25.3: Heracles and the Eleans’ worship of Hades.
7.17.8: Heracles’ love for the youth Sostratus.
7.18.1: Heracles entertained by Dexamenus, king of Olenus.
7.19.6-7.19.10: Human sacrifice to Artemis and the chest of Eurypylus.
7.25.10: A small statue of Heracles and divination by dice.
8.4.9: Heracles and Auge, the daughter of Aleus.
8.5.1: The Dorians and the death of Hyllus.
8.5.4-8.5.7: The descendants of Agapenor and the return of the Dorians.
8.12.2-8.12.4: Heracles and Phialo, the daughter of Alcimedon.
8.14.2-8.14.3: Heracles digs a channel through the Plain of Pheneus.
8.14.9-8.14.10: The tomb of Iphicles.
8.15.5-8.15.7: A sanctuary built by Heracles after his conquest of Elis.
8.18.3: The representation of the river Styx and Athena’s assistance to Heracles.
8.18.7-8.18.8: Melampus.
8.22.3-8.22.6: Lake Stymphalus.
8.24.1: Heracles and Psophis, the daughter of Eryx.
8.24.5: Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar.
8.25.10: Heracles and the horse Arion at the conquest of Elis.
8.45.3: A duel between Echemus and Hyllus.
8.48.7: Auge and the birth of Telephus.
9.11.1-9.11.6: Amphitryon, Alcmena, the birth of Heracles, a sanctuary of Heracles with a wooden image carved by Daedalus, and the labors of Heracles sculpted by Praxiteles.
9.16.7-9.17.2: No tomb for Alcmena, and Heracles’ battle with Orchomenus.
9.23.1: A gymnasium and hero-shrine to Iolaus.
9.27.6-9.27.8: A sanctuary of Heracles and the reason for the priestess’ chastity.
9.29.6-9.29.9: Linus.
9.37.1-9.37.4: The succession at Orchomenus.
9.38.6-9.38.8: A temple of Heracles and the diversion of the river Cephisus into the Orchomenian plain.
10.13.6-10.13.6: A votive image of Heracles and the quarrel with Apollo over the tripod.
10.29.7: Heracles and Megara.
10.38.1-10.38.3: How the Ozolian Locrians got their name.
Pind. N. 1.33-1.72: Heracles and the serpents.
N. 4.1-4.32: Telamon and Heracles.
N. 7.80-7.101: Heracles.
N. 10.10-10.18: Amphitryon.
O. 3. complete.
O. 10.22-10.55: Heracles.
P. 9.76-9.90: Amphitryon and Alcmena.
Plau. Am. Complete
Sen. Her. Fur. complete.
Her. Oet. complete.
Soph. Trach. complete.
Strab. 7. Fr. 27: Heracles and the Giants.
8.3.5: Heracles in Ephyra.
8.6.8: Stymphalian lake.
9.4.10: Heracles and Aegimius.
10.2.5: Nessus, Deïanira, and Heracles.
10.2.19: Heracles wins Deïanira.
11.5.5: Heracles and Prometheus.
12.4.3: Hylas and Heracles.
13.1.32: Heracles’ sack of Troy.
13.1.69: Auge, Telephus, and Heracles.
14.2.6: Heraclidae.
Theoc. 13: Hylas.
24: The infant Heracles; the education of Heracles.
25: The Nemean lion.
Megara: thought by some to be a poem of Theocritus,’ it presents Heracles’ wife and mother, Megara and Alcmena, mourning at home the absence of Heracles, who is away on his labors, and, for Megara, the murder of the children.
Verg. Aen. 8.134-305
Xen. Anab. 6.2.2: Where Heracles entered the Underworld.
Mem. 2.1.21-2.1.34: Prodicus’ tale of Heracles at the crossroads.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD

Secondary Sources


Eliot, T. S. (1888–1965). The Cocktail Party. Play.

Giraudoux, Jean (1882–1944). Amphitryon 38. Play. Owes its serial number to the thirty-seven dramatizations of the myth, at least according to the author.

Graves, Robert (1895–1985). Hercules, My Shipmate. Novel

Pound, Ezra (1885–1972). The Women of Trachis. Play. An adaptation of Sophocles’ Trachiniae.


Brommer, Frank. Heracles: The Twelve Labors of the Hero in Ancient Art and Literature. Translated by Shirley Schwartz. New Rochelle, NY: Caratzas, 1986.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Galinsky, C. Karl. The Herakles Theme: The Adaptation of the Hero in Literature from Homer to the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Blackwell, 1972.

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD


Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685–1750). Hercules auf dem Scheidenwege. Secular Cantata 213. Mathis et al. Kammerorchester Berlin, cond. Schreier. The famous parable about Hercules’ choice between Pleasure and Virtue.

Clérambault, Louis-Nicolas (1676–1749). La Mort d’Hercule. Cantata for solo voice and symphony. Coadou. Les Solistes du Concert Spirituel. Naxos 8.55374. Also includes Poliphème.

Falla, Manuel de (1876–1946). Atlantida. Opera. Stratas, Simionato, et al. La Scala Theater Orchestra & Chorus, cond. Schippers. Opera d’Oro OPD-1307. The libretto by the composer is an adaptation of the poem L’Atlàntida by the Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer. Alcide (Hercules) raises the Pyrenees, founds Barcelona, and is convinced by Geryon that he can rule the continent of Atlantis, which is destroyed in a great flood.  The Christian Christopher Columbus, inspired by the story of Heracles, sets out to discover a new world.

Gluck, Christoph Willibald (1714–1787). Die Hochzeit von Herkules und Hebe (The Marriage of Hercules and Hebe). Opera. Vulpius, Rönisch, et al. Kammerorchester Berlin, cond. Koch. BERLIN Classics 0091552BC.

Goebbels, Heiner (1962–). Herakles 2, for five brass players, drums, and sampler. Ensemble Modern, cond. Rundel. EMC New Series 1483. The composer explains that “the title was taken from a prose text in Heiner Müller’s play Zement, which describes Hercules’ second task, his struggle with the Hydra, and the fighter’s gradual transformation into his adversary, a fighting machine.”

Handel, George Frideric (1685–1759). The Choice of Hercules. Cantata on the same theme as Bach’s work, above.  Gritton et al. Orchestra of the King’s Consort, cond. King. Hyperion CDA 67298.Also Zaeppffel et al. Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum Leipzig, cond. Pommer. Capriccio 10019.

———. Hercules. Significant among Handel’s operas, about Heracles, Deïanira, and Iole, based upon Sophocles7rsquo; Trachiniae. Tomlinson et al. The English Baroque Soloists, cond. Gardiner. Archiv Produktion 423 137-2; Polster et al. Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig, cond. Hauschild.

“Hercules.” Rock song. Elton John. Honky Château. Polydor 829 249-2.

Menken, Alan. Disney’s Hercules. A recording of the soundtrack of the film. Lyrics by David Zippel. Walt Disney Records 60864-7. See DVD.

Porter, Cole (1891–1964). Out of This World. Greenwood et al. Original Broadway cast recording. Sony Broadway SK 48223; Martin et al. Also the 1995 original New York cast recording with the cast and orchestra from City Center’s Encores, Great American Musicals in Concert. DRG 94764. Splendid musical, loosely based on the Amphitryon legend, telling of Jupiter’s infatuation with a lovely American mortal.

Rodgers, Richard (1902–1979). The Boys from Syracuse. Lyrics by Lorenz Hart. Fine musical based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, which is reminiscent of Plautus’ Amphitruo and Menaechmi. Nelson et al. Chorus and orchestra, cond. Engel. Sony Broadway SK 53329. Also the 1997 original New York cast recording (1997) from City Center’s Encores, Great American Musicals in Concert. DRG Records 94767.

———. “Jupiter Forbid.” Song from By Jupiter. Lyrics by Hart. Fine musical inspired by Heracles’ ninth labor, the Girdle of Hippolyta. Doggett, chorus, and orchestra, cond. Setzer. Original cast (Metropolitan Opera) MET 808CD. Reissued from the original cast LP album RCA Victor LOC-113070 (which we hope will be reissued in its entirety on CD). Selections from By Jupiter and The Boys from Syracuse are included on Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers and Hart. Nonesuch 79406.

Saint-Saëns, Camille (1835–1921). La Jeunesse d’Hercule and Le Rouet d’Omphale. Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Dutoit. London (Jubilee) 425021-2. Interesting symphonic poems. The latter incorporates the sound of Omphale’s spinning wheel.

Sondheim, Stephen (1930–). A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Mostel et al. Original Broadway cast recording. Broadway Angel D 120609. See DVD.

Terrace, Claude (1867–1923). Les Travaux d’Hercule. Comic operetta in the manner of Offenbach about the exploits of Heracles. Rey et al. Orchestre Lyrique de la RTF, cond. Cariven. Musidisc 201792 MU 744.

Sturiale, Grant. Olympus on my Mind. Dewitt et al. American cast recording. Jay CDJAY1238. Amusing musical, with book and lyrics by Barry Harman, suggested by Amphtryon.

Wakeman, Rick, and Ramon Remedios, “Hercules.” Relativity/President 88561-1026-2. New Age songs in A Suite of the Gods for tenor, keyboards, and percussion, which include “Dawn of Time,” “The Oracle,” “Pandora’s Box,” “The Flood,” “Chariot of the Sun,” and “The Voyage of Ulysses.”

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Primary Sources | Secondary Sources | Music | DVD


Ercole su’l Termodonte (Hercules in Thermodon). Opera by Antonio Vivaldi. Stains et al. Il Complesso Barocco, cond. Curtis. Dynamic. Hercules must capture the sword of the Amazon Queen Antiope (and not the magic girdle of Hippolyta).

Hercules. Opera by Handel. William Shimell, Joyce DiDonato, et al. Les Arts Florissants, cond. William Christie. Aix-en-Provence Opera Production. Production by Luc Bondy.

Hercules. Walt Disney film, starring Tate Donovan and Josh Keaton. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. Predictable family entertainment with some clever effects. Disney Gold Classic collection.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Outstanding musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and starring Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers; directed by Richard Lester. MGM. Since this musical is based on several plays of Plautus to create an archetypal new comedy, it can be enjoyed in conjunction with a reading of Amphitruo (see also Music). In connection with a study of Plautus, one can also savor the recording of Rodger’s and Hart’s delightful The Boys from Syracuse. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. (See Music.)

Oh Woe Is Me (Hélas pour moi). French with English subtitles, starring Gerard Depardieu and Laurence Masliah, and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The Amphitryon story set in Switzerland.  Zeus inhabits Amphitryon’s body to seduce a man’s wife. Townspeople function like a chorus, and music is from Bach, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

The Three Stooges Meet Hercules. Directed by Edward Bernds. Very juvenile and very funny. Columbia Pictures.

The number of movies about Heracles is legion; those starring bodybuilder Steve Reeves are perhaps the most well known. Many of these B movies are readily available on video and now on DVD; many are available from Sinister Cinema (where other movies on classical themes may be found) and also at a low price from such companies as Alpha Video. See DVDs and Box.

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