“Weary Herakles” gets his legs back

The torso of Herakles that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts recently admitted after decades of shameless, self-serving denial was the other half of a statue whose legs were in the Antalya Museum in Turkey has finally been rejoined to its limbs and put on display.

The torso flew back accompanied by no less a dignitary than the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was in New York last month to attend the UN General Assembly and he volunteered to pick up Herakles top half and carry it back to Turkey in his plane. Herakles and Erdoğan flew back together on Sunday, September 25. Museum workers immediately began to put humpty dumpty together again.

The two parts of the statue were reunited by experts and went on display at the Antalya Museum following a ceremony. Speaking at the event, [Turkish Culture Minister Ertugrul] Günay said, “Today was a special day for all people who attach importance to history and archeology.”

The lower half of the statue was found by Professor Jale İnan during excavations near Perge, Antalya province, in 1980. İnan searched extensively for the upper half of the statue, a feat that took 10 years, until she was finally able to locate it in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1990, at the age of 76.

The Antalya Museum’s “Weary Herakles” display looks a lot better now.

P.S. – Seeing the statue back together really puts to the lie to all the huffing and puffing the Boston Museum of Fine Art did to pretend the halves could have come from two completely different copies of Lyssipos’ original “Weary Herakles.”

2 thoughts on ““Weary Herakles” gets his legs back

  1. From Keghart.com:

    The article by Geoff Edgers about Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts’ acceding to Turkish demands, titled “MFA sends ‘Weary Herakles’ statue back to Turkey,” appeared in the Sept. 24, 2011 edition of the Boston Globe. Mr. Berge Tatian and Mr. David Boyajian of Massachusetts each sent a letter (please see below) to the Globe in response. The paper published neither letter. Mr. Tatian and Mr. Boyajian have granted permission to publish their letters on Keghart.com,- Editor

    The statement by former Turkish cultural minister, Engin Ozgen, on the return of the missing part of the Weary Herakles, that “This will show the world that the Turks are not ignorant anymore, that they will fight for their past and their heritage”, assumes that the rest of the world is ignorant of the true provenance of that statue. It’s as if I find a work of art on my property and then go around claiming it as part of my patrimony. The Turk’s complaint over looting is pathetic if not laughable when they themselves are guilty of the most egregious crime of looting, that of the properties of the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians of Asia Minor, after destroying their heritage.

    Berge Tatian
    Stoneham, MA

    So the Museum of Fine Arts is returning an ancient statue of “Weary Herakles” to Turkey (“MFA sends ‘Weary Herakles’ statue back to Turkey,” Sept. 24). Herakles was a Greek god, and the statue is based upon an ancient Greek original. Does anyone believe that Turkey is a credible custodian or legitimate inheritor of ancient – particularly Greek – culture?

    Turkey has exterminated the indigenous peoples of Asia Minor – Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians – and tried to erase all traces of their existence, while harassing the few who are left.

    Turkey has destroyed, deliberately misidentified, or grossly neglected most of the churches, cultural landmarks, and villages of these ancient peoples, whom Turks conquered after arriving from Central Asia.

    Hundreds of such villages have also been assigned Turkish names to erase the fact that these were the lands and homes of people whom Turkey annihilated.

    Turkey says that the statue’s return is morally right and concerns “culture.” But it’s really about tourist money and laying illegitimate claim to heritages that it has, in fact, tried to destroy.

    Rather than returning the Herakles statue, the MFA should be shedding light on Turkey’s acts of cultural destruction and genocide.

    David Boyajian
    Belmont, MA

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