Outside the main entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio stand two large statues, one is a copy of Michelangelo's David, the other is Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli (1488-1560).
To rival Michelangelo's achievements as a sculptor was one of the driving forces of Bandinelli's life and here we can see the extent to which he achieved that ambition.
The statue of Hercules and Cacus was commissioned in 1525 by Clement VII (r. 1523-34), the second member of the Medici family to become pope. However, before Bandinelli began work, the Medici clan were again expelled from the city and replaced by the final flowering of the Florentine republic (1527-30). When the Medici were restored to power in 1531, and the young Alessandro de' Medici (1511-37) was installed as the first duke of Florence, the commission was renewed.
Hercules, contrary to myth, is depicted as sparing Cacus, the monster and cattle-rustler, to signify the divine clemency of the pope, who chose his regnal name to refer to his policy of strong but clement rule.
Bandinelli's statue was not well-received by many of his fellow sculptors, including Benvenuto Cellini (1500-71), who compared the musculature of Hercules to a 'sack full of melons’.