The Golden Age of Denial: Hercules, the Bisexual Demigod

Hercules has been the icon of alpha-masculinty for centuries — do you know about his gay love life?

BY Christopher Harrity

August 14 2013 6:05 AM ET

Antaeus and Hercules: Swept Off His Feet
Legend has it that Antaeus would challenge all passers-by to wrestle. He would kill them and then use their skulls to build a temple to his father, Poseidon. He was superhumanly strong as long as he kept his feet on the ground, but once lifted into the air he became as vulnerable as other men.

Antaeus had defeated most of his opponents until it came to his fight with Hercules (who was on his way to the Garden of Hesperides for his 11th Labor). Upon finding that he could not beat Antaeus by throwing him to the ground, Hercules discovered the secret of his power. Holding Antaeus aloft, Hercules crushed him in a bear hug. The struggle between Antaeus and Hercules is a favorite subject in ancient and Renaissance sculpture and painting. Depictions of Antaeus with his legs in the air were also found in many gay men's homes in the last century as a sort of visual code to visitors that they belonged to "the club."


Hercules and Antaeus by Antonio Del Pollaiuolo. A bit grim, but some nice butt crack.


Antaeus looks pretty earthbound here, but he is surrendering to some apparent hair-pulling. Antoine Coypel's version of Hercules and Antaeus, 1667-1669.


Fuente de Hercules y Anteo, Jardin del Parterre Aranjuez, Madrid. When this fountain is active, water spurts from Antaeus' mouth. Cute.

Tags: Art

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