Carlyle weaves into his "Hudson Statue" both religious and mythological references in order to reduce the apparent worship of Hudson the railway baron to a absurd extreme. One very striking instance involves the image of Hudson bringing a dead railway back to life, allowing it to blossom "into umbrageous flowery scrip, to enrich with golden apples, surpassing thus of Hesperides, the hungry souls of men."
In Greek mythology, the Garden of Hesperides contained the tree of the golden apples, Gaea's wedding gift to Hera upon her marriage to Zeus. The Hesperides themselves were "Daughters of the Evening," clear-voiced virgins who guarded the tree along with the dragon Ladon (and Ladon is also the name of the Arcadian river, site of the original garden). These fantastically beautiful and spiritually fulfilling apples played two parts in Greek mythology. The first involved the race between Atalanta and Hippomenes. Atalanta, an exquisite maiden and powerful warrior would only marry the man would could outrun her. Hippomenes acquired some golden apples from the garden of Hesperides and threw them in her path during the race. He absolute need to have them distracted her to pick them up and Hippomenes therefore won the race. The second instance of the golden apples occurs with the twelve labors of Heracles. His eleventh labor was to bring back and restore to the world the golden apples kept and the world's end by the Hesperides, insinuating that they were a precious treasure in beauty and enlightenment hidden selfishly away.
Therefore, in satirically proposing Hudson as a similar religious provider for the British people, Carlyle directly criticizes their idolatry.
- Turner's painting of the subject
- Ruskin's discussion of the painting
- Holman Hunt's Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides
Last modified 23 October 2002