Last year, I was handed a worksheet. It was an excerpt of an autobiography if I recall correctly.

One part I remember in particular involved Heracles, that he was given a choice between duty and pleasure.

Can anyone recall a myth like this?


1 Answer 1


This is The Choice of Hercules, or sometimes Hercules at the Crossroads, a story that was once rather highly regarded. First told by Prodicus, whose works have been lost. Prodicus was apparantly a friend of Socrates, and is mentioned by Plato and Xenophon, through which some of his teachings survive. This one comes from Xenophon's Memorabilia, 2.1.29-40 (here is a a free translation into English)

Hercules at the crossroads is a rather simple parable, where the young hero meets two ladies, one clad simply and with modest manners, the other clad more richly and revealing. The latter urges him to choose a life of pleasure, while the former tells him to live a life of virtue, and that the joy of doing what is right and just will be greater than the simple pleasures of a dissipated life.

The story was taken up in renaissance and baroque art, and there are several paintings that depict the scene, as well as retellings in operatic and poetic form.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.