From Elitism to Democratisation: A Half-Century of Hercules in Children’s Literature

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on retellings of the Hercules myth for children,
over a period of fifty years, showing how presentations of the myth for children
have changed during this period, under the influence of changing ideas, and
against the background of the perception of the classical world as elitist. It
demonstrates that although Hercules was originally depicted in a reverent manner, by the end of the twentieth century a change was occurring, as a result of the screen adaptations that had popularized the hero. These led to a resurgence in number of books about the hero, and a change of attitude towards him, with Hercules treated humorously and with far less deference than before. More recently this has developed into a trend whereby amateur writers have appropriated the hero for themselves, adapting the original tale with an enthusiastic abandon, a move that also reflects the recent popularity of classical myth in the digital age of globalisation. Limited as the present study is, the Hercules books for children demonstrate that the so-called democratization of classics is real, ongoing, and reflected even in a very specific group of works targeted at a particular readership.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)81-101
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Historical Fictions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Children’s literature
  • Heracles
  • Hercules
  • popular culture
  • mythology


Dive into the research topics of 'From Elitism to Democratisation: A Half-Century of Hercules in Children’s Literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this