A statue of Greek hero Hercules holding the king Diomedes upside-down — while Diomedes clamps down on Hercules’ penis — has the r/gay subreddit in hysterics. “Mom, I swear it’s not what it looks like, we’re just friends,” one user wrote, captioning an image of the sculpture.
“I wish someone would hold me this way,” another person wrote.
One Redditor pointed out, meanwhile, that a replication of the statue is available on Amazon. (And in that copy, Hercules’ heroic body part seems to be even more pronounced, if that’s possible.)
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According to the Web Gallery of Art, the statue Hercules and Diomedes is one of six statues that the sculptor Vincenzo de Rossi made for the Salone dei Cinquecento, in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.
Tufts University’s Perseus Project, meanwhile, explains the backstory (without mentioning the handsiness). Greek mythology has it that Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, tasked Hercules with twelve “Labors” as penance for killing his wife and children in a temporary bout of insanity. As one of the Labors, Eurystheus sent him to retrieve the man-eating mares of Diomedes, king of the Bistones tribe. And legend has it that Hercules killed Diomedes by feeding him to his own horses.
Related: Why size definitely didn’t matter to the Ancient Greeks
Anyway, the statue makes not one but two appearances in the Dan Brown novel Inferno, a book in the Da Vinci Codeseries, and Brown mentions the penile grip both times.
In Chapter 35:
Langdon raised his eyes slowly to the far side of the room, where six dynamic sculptures — The Labors of Hercules — lined the wall like a phalanx of soldiers. Langdon intentionally ignored the oft-maligned Hercules and Diomedes, whose naked bodies were locked in an awkward-looking wrestling match, which included a creative ‘penile grip’ that always made Langdon cringe.”
In Chapter 42:
The sculpture depicted the two heroes of Greek mythology — both stark naked — locked in a wrestling match. Hercules was holding Diomedes upside down, preparing to throw him, while Diomedes was tightly gripping Hercules’ penis, as if to say, “Are you sure you want to throw me?”
When I went to Florence I was (pleasantly) shocked to see this and surprised I’d never heard of it before, even a joking reference to it. It looks almost like a modern takeoff on Renaissance art instead of a 16th-century sculpture. It should definitely be better known!
Another good thing about old-time homoerotic Hercules art: it must drive Kevin Sorbo even crazier than he already is. 🙂
You are an American I presume .
@GeorgeIV: Why, do Europeans learn about this in elementary school?
Imagine the King of Saudi sees this by accident 🙂
LOL prudes are annoying
i have a replica of this statue. i saw it on Ebay a few years ago and just had to have it.
I don’t remember seeing this either time I was in Florence. I saw loads of statues and other art but not this one. I would have spent HOURS looking at this!! (Maybe it was being “cleaned” when I was there.)
Fun, but another awkward item for the estate sale.
Had Diomedes really wanted to get Hercules’ attention, he would have instead grabbed him by the balls. I saw this statue at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 2000, and I, too, was surprised I had never before heard of it. And like Michelangelo’s David, it is so much more impressive ‘in the flesh’ than in any photograph.
OMG people it is a penis. tons of people have them
Right this is a art piece made many years ago, and copied many times, i love it
I see a movie in the future
I love how on the Amazon site, there is a pic comparing the size to a soda can.
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