Game Piece with Hercules Slaying the Three-Headed Geryon


On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14

This carved disk was originally part of a set of thirty pieces made for the board game known as "tables," a precursor of backgammon. Classical and biblical themes are seen frequently on surviving tableman, including episodes from the stories of Hercules and Samson, suggesting that these ancient heroes often represented opposing sides in the game. Here, Hercules, at left, is shown killing the three-headed monster Geryon—his tenth Labor. The monster, now slain, is represented again at the bottom of the scene. Like many other examples this tableman retains traces of paint. Color allowed one side to be easily distinguished from the other side, which was often left unpainted.

Game Piece with Hercules Slaying the Three-Headed Geryon, Ivory, German

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