Sarcophagus Relief Depicting Labors of Hercules

Thesis statement: In the sculpture Sarcophagus Relief Depicting Labors of Hercules, the unknown artist portrays the deep relationship between Roman mythology and the growth and development of Roman sculpture during 3rd–4th century A.D. Background As pointed out, the artist behind the sculpture Sarcophagus Relief Depicting Labors of Hercules (see Appendix-1), is still unknown. But this ambiguity related to the sculpture does not reduce its scope within the scenario or art because it represents the Roman society during 3rd-4th century A.D. The sarcophagus relief sheds light into the social setting in Rome during 3rd–4th century A.D. Generally, sarcophagus relief works are used to decorate the tombs of the elite class in the society. One can see that the myth of Hercules or Heracles was popular among the people in ancient Roman Empire. So, this sculpture can be considered as a visual example for the usage of mythical characters in sculpture. This sculpture is preserved and displayed at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, which is in Hawaii. Besides, this sculpture was contributed by Anna Rice Cooke (say, the founder of the Academy of Arts/museum). So, one can see that the sculpture’s background is interconnected with the Roman society, mythology and culture. Source The unknown artist made use of the Greco-Roman myth of Hercules. To be specific, the theme of this sculpture is interconnected with the labors of Hercules. In the Greco-Roman mythology, Hercules is portrayed as a mythical figure, powerful enough to complete impossible labors. One can see that Hercules’s deeds were popular among the Romans and the artists began to make use of the same as their theme. The popularity of Hercules’s labors represents the Roman interest in hero worship and this is cunningly portrayed in the sculpture. In the sculpture, the artist portrays two of the deeds fulfilled by Hercules. For instance, the first figure in the sculpture is symbolic of Hercules’s fight with hydra (say, a multi-headed creature). Hercules had to kill the many-headed hydra (HYE-druh) for his second task.1 The second figure in the sculpture is symbolic of Hercules’s battle with the Erymanthian Boar (say, a giant creature). From a different angle of view, the position of Hercules in the sculpture is symbolic of hard labor. Besides, the seriousness that can be seen in the face of Hercules is symbolic of heroism and hard labor. Origin As pointed out, origin of the work Sarcophagus Relief Depicting Labors of Hercules is related to Roman culture and its relation with mythology and hero worship. One can see that the sculpture represents the Roman interest in the immortality of art. Besides, the usage of marble as the medium of sculpture proves the development of sculpture works during 3rd-4th century A.D. On the other side, one cannot neglect the fact that the decline of Roman Empire reduced the further development of Roman art and architecture. Still, some of the sculptures during 3rd-4th century A.D. are preserved in different museums. So, this sculpture is historically important because it represents the rich heritage of Roman culture. Besides, this sculpture was contributed to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, by Anna Rice Cooke (say, in the year 1932). The authorities at the Honolulu Academy of Arts show utmost interest to preserve and restore this sculpture. In addition, ArtafterDark (say, a volunteer group) at the Honolulu A