11 of 12 engravings have been preserved: the story of the ancient hero synthesized with Christian teachings

The Twelve Works of Hercules

The Twelve Works of Hercules

The Twelve Works of Hercules

  1. A synthesis of Greek mythology and Christian allegory meant to inspire virtuous behavior

  2. Written in 1417 by Marquess Enrique de Villena (1384-1434) in Catalan and later translated into Castilian

  3. Printed by Antón de Centenera on January 15th, 1483 in Zamora with 12 engravings, 11 of which survive

The Twelve Works of Hercules

The Twelve Works of Hercules – Inc. 2441 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Born the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmene, Hercules was a Roman hero famous for his great strength and one of the most popular mythic figures both in the Middle Ages and today. As was common for ancient pagan myths, the tale was reinterpreted as a Christian allegory by medieval authors. Written by a Spanish nobleman, this version of the heroic myth was intended to inspire readers to a lead an honorable life.

The Twelve Works of Hercules

Don Enrique de Villena (1384-1434), Marquess of Villena, was a Spanish author, poet, and theologian who also was reputed to be a necromancer. Although belonging to the former royal house of Aragon, his political ambitions were denied him, and so he committed himself as an author. He is most famous for his Los Trabajos de Hércules, the first edition of which was printed by Antón de Centenera on January 15th, 1483 in Zamora. Originally written in Catalan in 1417, he later translated it into Castilian. The work is a synthesis of Greek mythology and Christian allegory filled with moralizing messages meant to inspire virtuous behavior. It is divided into 12 chapters, which are then divided into four parts, respectively. The splendid engravings are from a Spanish artist, but only 11 of the 12 have survived, with the Battle of the Centaurs missing. Nonetheless, this is an exemplary Spanish incunabulum, i.e. a book printed before 1501.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „The Twelve Works of Hercules“

Los (Doce) Trabajos de Hercules
The Twelve Works of Hercules – Inc. 2441 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
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Los (Doce) Trabajos de Hercules

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Vicent Garcia Editores – Valencia, 1995
Price Category: €
Edition available
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