Hercules Slays Cacus, 1550
The William M. Ladd Collection Gift of Herschel V. Jones, 1916 P.97
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Heinrich Aldegrever's finely-detailed engraving presents the climactic scene from the Roman myth of Hercules and Cacus. Hercules, a demi-god and son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene, was known for his physical strength and adventurous exploits. Cacus, who lived in a cave on the future site of Rome, was a fire-breathing monster, the son of Hephaestus and Medusa. Cacus lived on human flesh, and decorated his cave with the bones and skulls of his victims. After Hercules discovers Cacus had stolen eight of his cattle, he seeks the monster out for retribution. Cacus hides in his cave, rolling a boulder to block the entrance. Hercules tosses the boulder aside and using rocks and tree branches, battles Cacus, who fights back with his fire-breathing abilities. Hercules eventually prevails, murdering Cacus by strangulation.
Image: Public Domain. The William M. Ladd Collection Gift of Herschel V. Jones, 1916