Hercules in Popular Culture

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For my research paper I chose to explore and analyze instances of the great Greek/Roman hero, Heracles (Hercules), appearing in popular culture and the effect his myths had on early civilizations. Considered by most to be the greatest of the Greek folk heroes, Hercules was the embodiment of masculinity and physical power. The word “herculean” literally translates into “having enormous strength, courage, or size” (dictionary.com.) Since their inception, the myths and legends of Hercules have been immensely popular and have had vast influences on people and cultures throughout the world. Over the next few pages I will attempt to compare and contrast several examples of Hercules’ representation in pop culture with the underlying
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In the last 50 years alone, he has been the inspiration for various works of art. In 1963, Hercules was shortly represented in the movie Jason and the Argonauts. He joined Jason and the crew of the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece but left the mission early for personal reasons, which is consistent with the actual myth of Jason and the Argonauts. In 1970 the movie Hercules in New York cast the perfect leading role in Arnold Schwarzenegger, who looked like a modern day version of our hero, but had little to do with actual mythology. The casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hercules seemed especially valid because both have had such an impact on the ideals of physical fitness and the art of body building. It is said that famous body builder Eugene Sandow (1890’s), who is treated as a father of the early muscle building movement in America, was inspired to lift weights as a child after seeing a classic statue of Hercules (Wyke). Another facet of popular culture that showcases Hercules is the Marvel Comic Books. The Marvel version of Hercules was created in 1965 by Stan Lee as a super strong rival to Thor, who came from Norse mythology (comicvine.com). In the comic books he is commonly shown in his Lion skin cloak and holding his iconic wooden club. His typical super strength and courage are defining qualities in the comic book representation, as is his role as
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