Drawn for revision of the OCR GCSE Classical Civilisation topic.
Heracles‘ seventh Labour from King Eurystheus was not on the Greek mainland – Heracles had to travel to Crete, to subdue and return with the Cretan Bull.
This bull was no ordinary bull – it was the great (possibly white) bull that had fathered the Minotaur. King Minos of Knossos was only too happy to see it gone, as it had gone rogue and was destroying farmland.
Heracles used his brute strength to strangle the bull until it passed out, in order to subdue it. He then tethered it, then rode it across the sea back to the Greek mainland. Again, when it was presented to him, King Eurystheus is meant to have hidden in the pithos, showing how cowardly he was in contrast to Heracles.
Once the bull had fulfilled its purpose – proving Heracles had completed the Labour – he released it. It wandered over to Marathon, where it became the Marathonian Bull that the ‘hero’ Theseus is meant to have captured and sacrificed… before taking on the Minotaur, its child.
The comic is based on the metope from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, but has additions in order to help students remember both the metope and the story.
This metope is filled by the two figures. The Bull is HUGE, almost as tall as Heracles, making the fight a real spectacle. Their battle is portrayed by the cross their bodies form over eachother. Heracles leans to the left, muscles clearly straining against the might of the Bull, which is leaning to the right, as if trying to escape the metope at Heracles’ grasp. However, the Bull has already been caught, with reigns through its nose that Heracles seems to be holding. The faces of both Heracles and the Bull are in high relief, eyes locked.
NOTE: AGAIN Heracles isn’t wearing the lion skin but he IS holding the club to help identify him… even though the myth suggests he used his own brute strength to put the animal in a stranglehold to subdue it. Again, he’s naked!
In the illustration, unlike the metope, Heracles is fully dressed in tunic and lion skin, and is saying ‘I think a stranglehold would be better’ – the myth tells us this is how he subdued the bull.