"four with the history of Hercules, six of the Triumphs of Petrarch and another six with the City of Ladies"
Bronze of Hercules. Roman 2nd century BC
Public DomainBronze of Hercules. Roman 2nd century BC - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ordered by the Oracle at Delphi to serve Eurystheus, king of Mycenae, Hercules had to perform a series of tasks known as the Labours of Hercules.  These twelve tasks included the slaying of many dangerous creatures and although Hercules had no scruples about cheating to accomplish his mission he became renowned for saving mankind from the monsters he killed.

 

 

The Triumph of Death. Flemish tapestry c.1510-20 Victoria and Albert Museum London
Public DomainThe Triumph of Death. Flemish tapestry c.1510-20 Victoria and Albert Museum London - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) was one of the earliest Renaissance humanists.  He is often called the Father of Humanism and is also one of the first to refer to the Dark Ages.  His poem the Trionfi (The Triumphs) is one of his better known works.  It depicts the triumphs of love over chastity, then chastity over love, death over chastity, fame over death, time over fame and eternity over time.

 

 

From the Book of Ladies by Meister c.early 15th century
Public DomainFrom the Book of Ladies by Meister c.early 15th century - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Book of the City of Ladies (1405) by Christine de Pisan was written in response to what she saw as Jean de Meun's misogynism in his work The Romance of the Rose.  In the book she collects famous women from throughout history to 'live' in a city exclusively inhabited by women as an allegorical defence of women's rights.  Chritine de Pisan was also an advocate of equality in education for men and women.