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Hercules Slaying Cachus, And Hercules Picking Golden Apples, In John Lydgate's 'The Fall Of Princes'

Hercules Slaying Cachus, And Hercules Picking Golden Apples, In John Lydgate's 'The Fall Of Princes'

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1455

Shelfmark: Harley MS 1766

Item number: f.69r

Length: 30

Width: 20.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

John Lydgate (c.1370-c.1450) was probably born at Lidgate in Suffolk; he became a monk of Bury St. Edmunds aged 15, a priest in 1397, and during a long life was a remarkably prolific writer of English verse. 'The Fall of Princes' is a translation into English, made in about 1438/9, of a French work of c.1409, which was itself a translation of a mid 14th-century work in Latin by an Italian, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75). It concerns men who rise to great power, and their subsequent downfall: a warning to readers of the fickle nature of fate. In Greek mythology, one of the last of the Twelve Labours of Hercules, which he had to perform in order to become a god, was to pick golden apples belonging to the god Zeus, which were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon.

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