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Storytelling in Miniature

Hans Sebald Beham
German, 1500–1550

Hercules Fighting the Trojans

Engraving on copper, 1545
2 x 3 1/16 in.
Museum purchase, 1925.27

Although Sebald Beham included this image in his series of the Labors of Hercules, it, like Hercules Killing Nessus (see p. 18), is part of the Deeds (praxeis)—those adventures that befell the hero and led to his death long after the original 12 Labors assigned by King Eurystheus were fulfilled. In this print Hercules, identified by his lion skin cloak, is shown astride a horse on the right, using a large branch-like lance as he attacks a mounted Trojan. All is mayhem as defeated Trojans and horses crowd the small scene made even denser by the dark area surrounding the central action of the print.