Čapeta Rakić Abstract The Constellation of Hercules

Ivana Čapeta Rakić

The Constellation of Hercules and his struggle with the Nemean lion on two romanesque reliefs from the Split Cathedral

Under the vault of the belfry, at the western entrance to the cathedral of Split, there is an romanesque arch with relief scenes depicting human figures devoid of any characteristics of holiness, and various animals, both real and imaginary. The reliefs were probably carved by the master Otto who signed his name on the reliefs of St. Domnius, St. Peter and St. Anastasius. In the mid nineteenth century Eitelberger defined the reliefs on the arch generally as hunting scenes. Such an interpretation currently prevails among contemporary art historians. This paper provides an iconographic analysis of two reliefs at the endings of the arch.

On the basis of a comparison with other European examples and in accordance with medieval polysemy, Čapeta Rakić associates the scene on the left side of the arch with the Constellation of Hercules struggling with a dragon from the garden of the Hesperides, and also links the scene on the right side of the arch to this classical hero and his struggle with the Nemean lion.