Hercules and Antaeus

As predicted in the very first poem of the collection Hercules has invaded Antaeus’ space. They meet in single combat: superman versus child of earth, brain versus brawn. Legend has already ordained that Antaeus (Ireland’s ‘champion’ figure in Heaney’s eyes) will be no match for Hercules as the poet pointed out in his Birthday Speech. Hercules the golden boy with the god-sponsored future (sky-born and royal) enters Antaeus-space fresh from Labours fulfilled – snake-choker (the nine-headed hydra); dung heaver (the Augean stables) and preoccupied (his mind big) with his next mission (to steal the golden apples of the Hesperides from the north-African Atlas range) – he is destined to succeed on all counts (his future hung with trophies). Hercules has […]