25th July 2014
Kallos Gallery’s Dr. Liz Sawyer reflects on the enduring appeal of the legends of ancient Greece.
Today sees the premier of the second of 2014’s movies about Hercules. Hercules, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, follows hot on the heels of the box office flop The Legend of Hercules (released in January).
Like good science fiction, Greek mythology explores what it means to be human through characters who are on the very borderline of humanity themselves: Hercules is a prime example. The sheer power and passion that make him a superhero and the most loyal of friends also push him beyond the normal bounds of human behavior and into horrendous crimes, such as killing his own children as well as his enemies. The Kallos amphora highlights this transgressive aspect of Hercules’ character. Wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion, the first victory in his Labours, Hercules appears almost bestial with the lion’s jaws framing his face as he delivers the death blow to Hippolyta – but his supposedly barbarian opponents, the exotic race of Amazon women warriors, are depicted as conventionally Greek in their hoplite armour and neat battle-line, courageously holding a protective shield over their queen.
Hercules’ extraordinary power meant that he could wrestle lions, giants, rivers, and even Death himself, but in the end he met his own end tragically by accidental poisoning at the hands of his wife. The vulnerability of the exceedingly powerful is a trope that returns again and again in Greek mythology – and one which is ever more pertinent in today’s world. Through technology, we are stronger than Hercules, faster than Achilles, and smarter than Odysseus. But the dangers that vanquished these early superheroes still plague us too: the inevitability of human error, lapses in judgment, and injustice leading to uncontrolled rage. These ancient figures remain charismatic and alluring to us today because we recognize the choices that they had to make, and share the same responsibilities that they bore.
It remains to be seen whether tonight’s modern audiences will more impressed by Dwayne Johnson with his extremely apt wrestling credentials than by Kellan Lutz. But I expect that the story of the demi-god beefcake is more than enduring and powerful enough to overcome the hurdle of one Hollywood flop, and it will still come back fighting.
London Craft Week: Rhapsody on Wheels
AXA Art: An Interview with Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza
TEFAF MAASTRICHT 2018
WINTER 2017 – NEW EXHIBITION FOR LONDON ART WEEK
IMAGINING THE DIVINE LONDON ART WEEK LECTURE
Frieze Masters 2017
Summer 2017 exhibition – London Art Week
Stone Vessels of the Ancient World
2017 at Kallos Gallery – New Acquisitions
Hellenistic Armlet With Herakles Knot
Armour Ancient and Modern
Cretan Helmet, More Details
Cretan Helmet at Frieze Masters
Kallos Gallery at Frieze Masters 2016
Classics for All Update
London Art Week Preview
Kallos Gallery at Royal Ascot
Weston Park Primary School Visit
Horses, Rulers, & Victory
Ten Concierge & Vintner Wine Event
The Times Education Feature
Bringing a piece of Kallos Gallery to City Literary Institute
Classics for All Reception
Amaranthine Exhibition Launch
Education and Outreach Update
Classics in Communities
Coming Soon: Amaranthine
Legacy: Ancient & Modern
A Matter of Marbles
Pupils get hands on with ancient art
Proximity: Come Closer to Ancient Art
From ancient Greece to the trenches
Kallos on i-Pad and Mobile
Kallos Gallery Hosts Elizabeth Gage
From heracles to hysteria via ancient Greek art
Wrestling with ancient problems
School’s out… so it’s time for classics camp!
Serenading Sappho: a celebration of beauty for all the senses
kallos gallery welcomes friends of classics
the warrior within
opening the door to beauty in mayfair