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Hercules and Diomedes

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It is one of those myths lost in Ancient Greece, the twelve labours of Hercules. The wrestling match between Hercules and Diomedes. Their fight is easily explained because Hercules wants to kill Diomedes, to turn the tables on theThracian King who would feed him and his friends to his horses. In some versions of the story Diomedes has murdered Abderus, Hercules' young lover, and his death is in revenge. What is unexplained is why Diomedes, whilst held upside down in a tight grip by Hercules, is reaching out and grabbing Hercules penis and testicles? Perhaps it is simply a last chance to make the stronger man drop him? Whatever the reason, the statue located next to the Genius of Victory by Michelangelo and Florence triumphant over Pisa by Giambologna—belongs to a series of statues representing The Labours of Hercules.

Cosimo I de’ Medici commissioned twelve statues to sculptor Vincenzo de’ Rossi in 1560, but he managed to complete only seven of them. In the original project, this series of sculptures was supposed to decorate a fountain in the Boboli Gardens. Since 1592, these statues have been located in the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred), with the exception of a brief period when Florence was capital, when they were moved to the Bargello Palace.


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