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Slavery in Lydia

Omphale on Lydian bronze

Omphale (with Herakles' club)
on a bronze of Maeonia, Lydia

Many adventures of Herakles take place after his labors were completed. One of the more remarkable ones is probably that involving his Lydian slavery, as here we see the hero in an entirely unusual, almost comic role. Told by the Delphic oracle that the road to vindication from an accidental manslaughter he had committed was through three years of slavery, he goes to serve Omphale, the queen of Lydia is eastern Asia Minor. There, the two often reversed their roles, with her putting on his garb, dragging the club and playing a hero, and Herakles dressing as a female and reportedly performing women's chores (admittedly, more a housewife's than a queen's). There are many twists to this story - sure enough, some of them casting the hero in more manly functions - and ample Hellenistic and Roman artistic renditions of this episode, though again, rather few of them on coinage, and naturally confined to a couple of Lydian mints.

Search for coins depicting Lydian queen Omphale.