Texas Wesleyan Law Review


Erika Rackley

Document Type



Although often dismissed as a myth, the image of the judge as a Herculean superhero whose mission is to apply the law in a straightforward way retains a tenacious grip on our understandings of the judge and judging. The relationship between Oscar Wilde's Happy Prince and Hercules is one of uncomfortable similarity and difference. Like the Happy Prince, the Herculean judge who inhabits the legal imagination stands alone high upon Mount Olympus invisibly clothed with the appearance of neutrality and objectivity, our infatuation with this aesthetic image securing his position and role, his imposed beauty mirroring the golden facade of the Happy Prince. Yet, increasingly this image of the Herculean judge, like that of the Happy Prince toward the end of his story, is perceived to be somewhat shabby and in need of renovation. However, unlike Hercules, stripped of his aesthetic facade, the Happy Prince retains his appeal. Although this is not traditionally part of the Herculean myth, can we not look for it nevertheless? At the very least, we might seize the opportunity presented by Hercules's apparent need for renovation to envisage a judge with an appeal not dissimilar to Wilde's statue, to consider the importance of empathy and connection in judgment and, in so doing, begin to reimagine the judge.



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