Omphale (Greek Ὀμφάλη ) is a figure in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of Iardanos and the widow of an Tmolos Queen of Mäonien ( Lydia ).

She is known primarily in connection with Heracles. This had to serve as atonement for the murder of Iphitus as a slave and was bought by Omphale. According to some sources, he served her for a year, after another three years. During this time, punished Heracles robbers who infested the land of his mistress uncertain and defended it against invading enemies. When the queen learned who was the slave, she married him. There are two or three sons named ( Lamos, Agelaus, Tyrsenos ). In blind love for her and effeminate by lush life the hero condescend to put on women's clothes to spin wool and to carry out other women's work, while she wore his lion's skin and the wooden club. When the time of the punishment was over, the hero knew his blindness and left Omphale.

The basic features of the myth are shown in the 5th century BC, not unexpectedly in satyr play and comedy, however, the exchange of the garments is found only since the 1st century BC, especially among the Romans ( Ovid, Propertius, Seneca ). The obvious mockery of - allegedly - effeminate men is already available for Pericles / Aspasia ( Plutarch, Pericles, 24), then, especially in the propaganda of Augustus against Antony / Cleopatra ( Plutarch, Antony 90.4 ).

Omphale in art

  • Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger: Hercules at Omphale, numerous representations
  • Peter Paul Rubens: Hercules and Omphale ( 1606 ), Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • Théophile Gautier: Omphale or The amorous carpet lady, a rococo story. Amendment (1834 )
  • André Destouches: Omphale
  • Camille Saint- Saëns: Le Rouet d' Omphale (1872 )
  • Peter Hacks: Omphale. Drama and libretto for Siegfried Matthus (1969 )