Vagantibus graeciae fabulis: The North African wanderings of Antaios and Herakles

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The myth of Antaios and Herakles emerged from the encounter between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. This article explores two parallel courses of the myth's progressive development.One is geographical, with the myth travelling from east to west (from Kyrenaika, through Tunisia, to Tangier). The other unfolds within the plot itself: at first Herakles stands for the Greeks (and later the Romans), while Antaios embodies the indigenous Libyans. However, shifting political circumstances also allow for the (conjectural) identification of Greeks with the figure of Antaios, and a (certain) equation of Libyans with Herakles. On the whole, the history of the myth from the seventh to the first centuries BCE reflects the development of a politically and culturally coherent Mediterranean over the same period, from the first Greek settlers in Libya to the Mediterranean empire of Augustus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Antaios
  • Clupea
  • Greek mythology
  • Herakles
  • Kyrene
  • Libya
  • Mythistory
  • Pindar
  • Tangier
  • Tingis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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