and the Hydra
-- American painter
Side Aisle mural
Near front entrance
317.5 cm (137
x 125 in.)
of 1912 and Picture Fund 25.647
To kill the Hydra
snake-like-monster with burning venom) was Hercules' second labor -
were twelve labors in all.
The Hydra was the
of a mating
between the monster Typhon and the Echidna, which was a creature that
half snake and half woman. The Hydra was difficult to kill, because
one head was cut off, two more heads grew back out of the stump.
Hercules was the
one of Zeus'
many mortal lovers. Hercules himself became immortal when Zeus had him
suckle from Hera's breast (Zeus' wife) while she slept. Hera later
this trick and became enraged by her unfaithful husband and Hercules.
cast a spell on Hercules and he went temporarily mad and killed his own
wife and children. In remorse, Hercules consulted the Oracle at Delphi
to atone. The sentence was to serve King Eurystheus of Mycenae for
years which became the twelve labors.
The name Hercules
"glory of Hera."
The Hydra is
in that the venom of the snake monster would eventually be the downfall
of Hercules. After he had killed the Hydra, he cut the monster's body
and dipped his arrows in the fiery poisonous venom.
Much later, when he
live happily-ever-after with his new wife, a centaur tried to rape her.
Hercules killed it with one of his poisoned arrows, but before he died
the centaur tricked his wife into thinking that his poisoned blood was
a love potion to keep a lover faithful. So she dipped one of Hercules'
shirts in centaur's poisoned blood. Later, when she suspected Hercules
might be unfaithful she gave him the shirt. When Hercules put it on, it
burned his body to the bone, but he couldn't die since he was immortal.
Zeus took pity and sent him to the stars.
* * *
John, in effect, as
Hercules, flipped it upsidedown, and painted it.
Constellation in Juxtaposition)
Contenant, Northern Hemisphere, Summer
also called Strong Man or The Kneeling Man
commissioned by the MFA in 1921 and installed on ceiling side aisle,
Huntington Avenue stairway, 1925.
of Fine Arts, Boston