Rare group carved in lead.
Italy , late 17th century
After a model by Stefano MADERNO (1576-1636)
Dimensions : H : 23,6 in
Hercules, leaning against a tree trunk, lifts Antee so that he no longer touches the ground.
Antaeus, king of Libya, was the son of Poséidon and Gaia the Mother Earth. Anteus was a giant living in a cave under a cliff, feeding on lion flesh and sleeping on the ground to preserve and increase his colossal strength. His ability to gain strength when in contact with Earth (Gaia being his mother) made him invincible. Without mercy, he forced the foreigners who penetrated his territory to fight against him until exhaustion, then kill them. He then exhibited their remains on the paternal temple.
We do not know if it is Héraclèsdecided to put an end to this barbarous practice, who defied Antée or if it is Antée who challenged Heraclès. The two pugilists prepared for battle : one and the other took off their lion skin, then while Heracles was oiling in the Olympic way, Antée poured hot sand on the limbs to increase his contact with the earth.
Heracles had decided to spare his strength and to tire Anteus, but after having thrown him on the ground all along, he was stupefied to see his muscles regenerated by the Mother Earth. The two ennemies started again to fight, and Antee voluntarily threw himself on the ground to become more powerful. Heracles, then understanding his maneuver, lifted him from the ground, broke his ribs, and, despite the terrible groans of Mother Earth, kept him in the air until he expired
Antée's massive body was buried by Heracles under the Charf hill near Tangier, a town which is said to have been founded by the son of Heracles, Tingis, and Antée’s wife named Tingé.