How do you feel? Find out below the characteristics of the mythological figures that Antonio Canova transformed into works of art in marble. And don’t forget to… Be the Plus!
Hercules: the hero who has always represented, in the collective imagination, the idea of unlimited and boundless strength. Even as a child, he demonstrated his superhuman strength by strangling two reptiles who tried to kill him. The Twelve Labours Hercules had to endure are well-known: he fought several monstrous creatures, such as the Nemean Lion, whose skin became one of the symbols of the hero, the Lernaean Hydra, a terrifying nine-headed monster, and the Ceryneian Hind, his third labour, with gold horns and bronze hooves.
Canova’s sculptural group, with two naked bodies twisting in an arc, releases the immense, energetic intensity attributed to Hercules. Each sculpted detail embodies the furious rage emanating from the hero’s body.
The Three Graces
“The Three Graces” are part of Graeco-Roman mythology and have been identified as the daughters of Zeus: Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thalia. In the mythological tradition, they often accompany the figure of Aphrodite. Like every other deity, they too have a symbolic meaning, and inasmuch represent splendour, happiness and prosperity.
In Canova’s sculptural group, the three sisters embrace in a circle expressing the tenderness and elegance of the scene. Soft drapery embraces and unites them, while the forms and curves of the bodies represent the most harmonious embodiment of purity, of “ideal beauty”. Physical yet also emotional empathy between the three figures is evident in the caresses that the young girls exchange, so much so that one turns her head towards one of her sisters. This aethereal yet dynamic scene, seemingly coming to life before our eyes, achieves a powerful visual impact.
This work depicts the goddess Hebe, daughter of Zeus and Hera. She was the handmaid and cup-bearer of the gods of Olympus. Hebe is depicted walking with a light step, almost like a dancer, absorbed in a reverent and silent pose. Standing on a cloud, the goddess has an intricate hairstyle gathered in a diadem, fluttering delicately in a breeze; her torso is naked, while the lower part of her body is enveloped by the dense and complex folds of drapery that enhances her lithe body.
Hero of Phrygian origin, son of Priam and Hecuba, the first cause of the war and the fall of Troy. The goddesses who vied for the primacy of beauty, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, turned to him. In the judgment of Paride Aphrodite was favored and promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. With the help of Aphrodite, he managed to seduce and kidnap Elena. During the Trojan War, caused by this, he killed Achilles by hitting him in the only vulnerable point, before being killed by an arrow from Philoctetes.
In the sculpture, the hero leans with his left arm on a tree trunk, on which his chlamys is abandoned, turning his gaze thoughtfully to his right, as if dazzled by something. In a position that communicates full of self-confidence.