Exhibitions: Unearthing the Truth: Egypt's Pagan and Coptic Sculpture

Heracles Smiting Acheloos in the Form of a Bull

Hercules Smiting Acheloos in the Form of a Bull. Egypt, from Oxyrhynchus, c. 300–500 C.E. Limestone, 13 3/8 x 14 3/4 in. (34 x 37.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 61.128

Reliefs in some of the pagan tombs included images of gods and mythic figures, which were apparently meant to remind visitors of the deceased. Nymphs could suggest young women. Heroes like Hercules, here shown slaying his enemy, Acheloos, who was disguised as a bull, would have suggested powerful or authoritative men. As on most of these reliefs, all the empty spaces are filled with intertwining plants.