Of Muscles and Men

Essays on the Sword and Sandal Film

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About the Book

Few movie genres have highlighted the male body more effectively than the “sword-and-sandal” film, where the rippling torso and the bulging muscle are displayed for all to appreciate. Carrying his phallic sword and dressed in traditional garb calculated to bring attention to his magnificent physique, the sword-and-sandal hero is capable of toppling great nations, rescuing heroines, defeating monsters, and generally saving the day. Each of these essays examines the issues of masculinity and utility addressed in the sword-and-sandal genre. The contributors offer insights on a film form which showcases its male protagonists as heroic, violent, fleshy, and, in the end, extremely useful.

About the Author(s)

Michael G. Cornelius is an award-winning novelist and the author or editor of numerous scholarly works. He is a professor of English at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Michael G. Cornelius

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 218
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6162-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8902-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction—Of Muscles and Men: The Forms and Functions of the Sword and Sandal Film
MICHAEL G. CORNELIUS      1

Hercules, Politics, and Movies
MARIA ELENA D’AMELIO      15
Hero Trouble: Blood, Politics, and Kinship in Pasolini’s Medea
KRISTI M. WILSON      28
“To do or die manfully”: Performing Heteronormativity in Recent Epic Films
JERRY B. PIERCE      40
From Maciste to Maximus and Company: The Fragmented Hero in the New Epic
ANDREW B. R. ELLIOTT      58
Reverent and Irreverent Violence: In Defense of Spartacus, Conan, and Leonidas
JOHN ELIA      75
“Civilization … ancient and wicked”: Historicizing the Ideological Field of 1980s Sword and Sandal Films
KEVIN M. FLANAGAN      87
Homer’s Lies, Brad Pitt’s Thighs: Revisiting the Pre-Oedipal Mother and the German Wartime Father in Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy
ROBERT C. PIRRO      104
An Enduring Logic: Homer, Helen of Troy, and Narrative Mobility
LARRY T. SHILLOCK      124
“By Jupiter’s Cock!” Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Video Games, and Camp Excess
DAVID SIMMONS      144
Beefy Guys and Brawny Dolls: He-Man, the Masters of the Universe, and Gay Clone Culture
MICHAEL G. CORNELIUS      154
Developments in Peplum Filmmaking: Disney’s Hercules
CHRIS PALLANT      175
Hercules Diminished? Parody, Differentiation, and Emulation in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules
DANIEL O’BRIEN      187

About the Contributors      203
Index      207