The Hercules of myth is an ambivalent figure. He can be viewed optimistically as an exemplar of courage and endurance, a benefactor of mankind by clearing the world of dangers. Alternatively he can be seen as the archetype of the flawed action-hero or extreme “Type A personality”, one who is obsessed with achievement and competitiveness, fuelled by aggression and megalomania – a danger to himself and his friends, as much as to his enemies. In his play Hercules, Seneca explores the destructive potential of such “heroism”.

Hercules is one of eight tragedies composed by Seneca, the Roman poet, philosopher and statesman, in the mid-first century A.D. Later two non-Senecan plays, Hercules Oetaeus and O…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Fitch, John. "Hercules". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 March 2013
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]