- Purchase/rental options available:
This paper argues that Philostratus' ecphrasis of a painting of "mad Hercules" killing his children (Imagines 2.23)—a subject-matter almost unattested in archaeology—is best understood via the epistemological debates between the Stoics and the Academic sceptics. First, I suggest that the ecphrasis visualises Euripides' Hercules furens as a sceptic critique of the Stoics' "cataleptic impression." Next, I suggest that this philosophical framing of the myth enables Philostratus to scrutinise the epistemological stakes of naturalistic painting and vivid description too. In doing so, Philostratus reconsiders naturalism and ecphrasis as manias ; the viewer and the reader as madmen.