Fresco Fragment with Herakles and Hesione

Unknownabout 70

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Once part of an entire wall of painted decoration, this Roman fresco fragment shows the Greek hero Herakles rescuing Hesione. According to the myth, Zeus ordered Apollo and Poseidon to build the city walls of Troy for King Laomedon. The king did not pay them, however, and Poseidon sent a sea monster to ravage the land. In order to end this curse, Laomedon had to sacrifice his daughter Hesione to the monster. Herakles, who was passing by, happened to see Hesione staked out for the monster and rescued her. With its theme of the hero rescuing a princess from a sea monster, the story of Herakles and Hesione has strong similarities to the myth of Perseus and Andromeda, but it was never as popular in art and literature. Depictions of Herakles and Hesione were rare in Greek art and were only somewhat more popular among the Romans, who used the scene in paintings and mosaics for interior decoration. On this fresco fragment, one of Herakles' men is actually battling the monster at the left, hurling rocks at it, while Herakles leads the freed Hesione back to a group of Trojans. In Roman art, the emphasis is not on the hero battling the monster but on the hero getting the girl.

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  • Title: Fresco Fragment with Herakles and Hesione
  • Date Created: about 70
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: w37 x h37 cm
  • Type: Fresco
  • Rights: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • External Link: http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=8026
  • Medium: Fresco
  • artist: Unknown
  • Terms of Use: http://www.getty.edu/legal/copyright.html
  • Subject: Sea Monsters, Herakles, Hesione