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Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
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Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

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Re-(en)gendering Heroism: Reflective Nostalgia for Peplum’s Golden Age of Heroes in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 2.14 (1996)

Re-(en)gendering Heroism: Reflective Nostalgia for Peplum’s Golden Age of Heroes in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 2.14 (1996)

Chapter:
(p.27) 1 Re-(en)gendering Heroism: Reflective Nostalgia for Peplum’s Golden Age of Heroes in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys 2.14 (1996)
Source:
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition
Author(s):

Vincent Tomasso

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.003.0002

In this first chapter investigating the golden ages of heroes, Tomasso examines how nostalgia for the mid-twentieth century golden age of peplum (“sword and sandal”) films, which inspired the heroic “golden age” world of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995–9), is redoubled in “Once a Hero” (Episode 2.14, 1996). In staging a second voyage to re-claim the Golden Fleece, the episode presents Hercules as a guide for the demoralized Jason’s recuperation of his masculinity and status as the titular hero, in the wake of his ex-wife Medea’s killing of their two children and the mysterious disappearance of the Golden Fleece. In defining heroism within the scope of the series’ interpretation of the classical golden age, the episode highlights the challenge of reconciling the regressive sexual politics inherent in the peplum genre with the “girl power” Zeitgeist of 1990s American society and culture. On the one hand, the episode leans into the traditional villainization of Medea as a femme fatale; on the other, it also presents an invented character, Phoebe, who earns her own place as a hero among the Argonauts.

Keywords:   peplum (“sword and sandal”) genre, “girl power”, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, nostalgia, neomythological plots, golden age of heroes, Hercules and the Amazon Women, masculinity, Jason and the Argonauts, Medea

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