Saturday, December 24, 2011


Hymn To Hercules

The Fumigation from Frankincense.

Hear, powerful, Hercules untamed and strong,
to whom vast hands, and mighty works belong,
Almighty Titan, prudent and benign,
Of various forms, eternal and divine,
Father of Time, the theme of general praise,
Ineffable, adored in various ways.
Magnanimous, in divination skilled,
And in the athletic labours of the field.
'Tis thine strong archer, all things to devour,
Supreme, all-helping, all-producing power;
to thee mankind as their deliverer pray,
Whose arm can chase the savage tribes away:
Unwearied, earth's best blossom, offspring fair,
To whom calm peace, and peaceful works are dear.
Self-born, with primogenial fires you shine,
And various names and strength of heart are thine.
Thy mighty head supports the morning light,
And bears untamed, the silent gloomy night;
From east to west endued with strength divine,
Twelve glorious labours to absolve is thine;
Supremely skilled, thou reignest in heaven's abodes,
Thyself a God amidst the immortal Gods.
With arms unshaken, infinite, divine,
Come, blessed power, and to our rites incline;
The mitigations of disease convey,
And drive disastrous maladies away.
Come, shake the branch with thy almighty arm,
Dismiss thy darts and noxious fate disarm.


XV. Homeric Hymn to Heracles the Lion-Hearted (9 lines)

(ll. 1- I will sing of Heracles, the son of Zeus and much the mightiest of men on earth. Alcmena bare him in Thebes, the city of lovely dances, when the dark-clouded Son of Cronos had lain with her. Once he used to wander over unmeasured tracts of land and sea at the bidding of King Eurystheus, and himself did many deeds of violence and endured many; but now he lives happily in the glorious home of snowy Olympus, and has neat-ankled Hebe for his wife. (l. 9) Hail, lord, son of Zeus! Give me success and prosperity.

Heracles (play /ˈhɛrəkliːz/ herr-ə-kleez; Ancient Greek: Ἡρακλῆς, Hēraklēs, from Hēra, "Hera", and kleos, "glory"[1]), born Alcaeus[2] (Ἀλκαῖος, Alkaios) or Alcides[3] (Ἀλκείδης, Alkeidēs), was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus (Ζεύς) and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon[4] and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus (Περσεύς). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.

Extraordinary strength, courage, ingenuity, and sexual prowess with females were among his characteristic attributes. Although he was not as clever as the likes of Odysseus or Nestor, Heracles used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice, such as when laboring for the king Augeas of Elis, wrestling the giant Antaeus, or tricking Atlas into taking the sky back onto his shoulders. Together with Hermes he was the patron and protector of gymnasia and palaestrae.[5] His iconographic attributes are the lion skin and the club. These qualities did not prevent him from being regarded as a playful figure who used games to relax from his labors and played a great deal with children.[6] By conquering dangerous archaic forces he is said to have "made the world safe for mankind" and to be its benefactor.[7] Heracles was an extremely passionate and emotional individual, capable of doing both great deeds for his friends (such as wrestling with Thanatos on behalf of Prince Admetus, who had regaled Heracles with his hospitality, or restoring his friend Tyndareus to the throne of Sparta after he was overthrown) and being a terrible enemy who would wreak horrible vengeance on those who crossed him, as Augeas, Neleus and Laomedon all found out to their cost.

For more, see the Wiki: Here
Heracles (Ἡρακλἣς) was the mightiest and most famous of the Greek heroes. Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. The Romans identified him as Hercules. In fact modern scholars preferred to use his Latin name than the original Greek name. His name (Hercules) became synonymous for prodigious strength, courage, or size, eg. Herculean.

In the Etruscan mythology, his name was Hercle. Instead of being a son of a mortal woman Alcmene, both of his parents were immortal. He was the son of Tin or Tinia and of Uni. Tin was identified with the Roman Jupiter or the Greek Zeus, while Uni was Tin's wife and consort, who happened to be the Etruscan equivalent of the Roman Juno or the Greek Hera.

His deeds were fabulous for the courage and strength, which he displayed in performing them. His strength and courage, while he was performing the Twelve Labours and aiding the gods in their war against the Giants, had earned him immortality and lived among the gods at Olympus.

Yet, his strength would also cause him trouble, especially when he experienced one of his sudden and extremely frightening outbursts of rage that could have tragic consequences to those who happened to be near him. Though after the rage had passed, he showed a great deal of remorse and guilt that he would humbly submit to any punishment inflicted upon him. Yet, no hero submitted to so many punishments. He would even submit to punishment that most heroes would find too degrading, such as cleaning stable or serving as slave to a queen, who made him wear effeminate dress. Without his consent no one would have been able to punish him.

His stepmother, Hera, had always made Zeus' other lovers and children suffered for her husband's infidelities, but none were persecuted more at the hand of the goddess than Heracles.

Later writers tend to show Heracles in a more unflattering and comical light, yet his name and his deeds had being immortalised through timeless myths.


Birth of Heracles

Alcmene (Ἀλκμόνη) was the daughter of Electryon, king of Tiryns, and Anaxo. She married Amphitryon (Ἀμφιτρόων), son of Alcaeüs (Alcaeus).

According to the Shield of Heracles, Electryon's death was no accident; Amphitryon had violently killed the king, because he was angry over some oxen.

While Apollodorus says that Electryon's death was an accident. Taphians had raided the cattle from Electryon's pastures. Electryon's nine sons went to retrieve the stolen cows, but the sons of Electryon and the sons of Taphius killed one another in a battle. Electryon went on an expedition with Amphitryon to avenge his sons' death and recapture his cattle. Electryon had made Amphitryon promise not to have sex with his new wife until they returned from the expedition.

They had recovered the cattle from the Teleboans, when a bull had suddenly charged at the king and his newly married son-in-law, Amphitryon. Amphitryon tried to defend himself, swung his heavy club at the bull, but the weapon rebounded off the horn, hitting the king in the head. According to Shield of Heracles, Hesiod says that it was no accident. Apparently Electryon and Amphitryon had an argument over some oxen.

Sthenelus took advantage of his brother's death, seized power and exiled his nephew Amphitryon. Alcmene and her half-brother Licymnius fled with Amphitryon to Thebes.

At this time, Creon was king of Thebes, after the death of Laius. Creon purified Amphitryon for the killing the king and gave his daughter Perimede in marriage to Licymnius. According to Pausanias, Amphitryon and Alcmene lived near the Electran Gate, one of the seven gates of Thebes.

Alcmene remained faithful of her brothers' memory by refusing to lay with her husband until he avenged them against Taphian pirates. With Creon's aid, Amphitryon successfully led a campaign against the Taphians, but before his return, Zeus visited Alcmene in her husband's form and shared her bed.

Upon Amphitryon's return, slept with Alcmene, but discovered that she was no longer a virgin. The Theban seer Teiresias cleared up the mystery, that she was visited by a god and not to blame for losing her virginity prematurely.

Nine months after Zeus' visit, Zeus boasted that a day had come where a child would be born with his lineage that would rule the land around him. The goddess Hera's implacable hatred for all of Zeus' children had fathered on mortal women, made him swear that it would be so.

No sooner Zeus had sworn this vow, Hera arranged with her daughter Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth, to delay the delivery of Alcmene. Eileithyia sat outside of the room where Alcmene was in labour. By sitting with her legs cross and fingers intertwined, Eileithyia prevented Alcmene from pushing the babies out of her womb, for seven agonizing days.

Hera saw to that Sthenelus' son Eurystheus was born before Heracles. Eurystheus was born prematurely. Therefore, Eurystheus would be king of Mycenae and Tiryns, Zeus was furious at Hera, but could not revoke his vow.

Alcmene might have died in childbirth had not an attendant Galanthis tricked Eileithyia that the child have been delivered, surprising the goddess from holding back the delivery. Galanthis paid a high price for loyalty to Alcmene, when she tricked the goddess of childbirth. Eileithyia transformed Galanthis into a weasel. Alcmene bore twins, Heracles (Ἡρακλἣς) and Iphicles (Ἴφικλης); the second was a son of Alcmene by Amphitryon.

Alcaeüs was the name given to Heracles at birth (Heracles was named after his grandfather; Heracles didn't change his name until he went to Delphi for the first time).

According to Pausanias, the room that Alcmene gave birth to Heracles was called Alcmene's Chamber. His version about the hero's birth was slightly different to the usual account. Pausanias says that Hera had sent the Witches to delay or prevent Alcmene from giving birth, not Eileithyia. Also, it was Historis, Teiresias' daughter, who tricked the Witches, not Alcmene's servant Galanthis.

Having failed to prevent the birth, the goddess sent two snakes to kill the infants in their crib. Iphicles screamed in terror, but Heracles strangled both snakes, one in each hand. Amphitryon realised that Iphicles was his child, but Heracles belonged to the god. Other writers say that Amphitryon himself send the snakes to the infants' room to identify which child belong to the god.

According to Diodorus Siculus, Alcmene fearing Hera's wrath, abandoned her infant in the woods. Athena rescued the infant and brought the baby to Hera. Athena managed to persuade or dupe Hera into nursing the infant. Hera allowed the baby (Heracles) to suckle on one of her breasts, until the child bit very hard on her nipple. The goddess pushed the baby away from her nipple, spilling her milk across the heaven, forming the Milky Way. (So that was how this galaxy was created!)

The goddess told Athena to give the baby back to her mother to nurse. Athena returned child back to Alcmene, telling the mother to rear her own child. The irony of this situation is that Hera had actually saved her hated stepson's life by breast feeding him from her own breast.


Early Life

At some point of his young life, his name was changed from Alcaeus to Heracles (Ἡρακλἣς), which means Glory of Hera. The name means that he would obtain glory through Hera's enmity.

Many famous men were involved with his education. Amphitryon taught Heracles how to drive a chariot and Castor trained him in fencing. While the thief Autolycus, the son of Hermes, taught him how to wrestle, and the other son of Hermes, Harpalycus trained him in boxing. Eurytus, king of Oechalia, taught him archery. Linus, son of the Muse Calliope or Urania, taught Heracles music.

Teaching him music had end up in disaster, when his teacher, Linus struck the youth for his poor attention to music lessons. Heracles retaliated by striking him in the head with the lyre, killing Linus instantly. Heracles was acquitted of murder, but Amphitryon sends him to tend sheep on the farm in the countryside near Thespiae, to keep him out of trouble.

Here, at the foot of Mount Cithaeron, he killed a lion without weapon that were killing flocks of Thespius, king of Thespiae. The king was so impressed by his feat that Thespius entertained the youth as his guest for fifty nights. Each night Thespius would send one of his fifty daughters to the hero's room. Other writers say that he slept with all the king's daughters in a single night. Only one of Thespius' daughters refused to sleep with Heracles. Two of the girls bore twins to Heracles, and Heracles had total of fifty-one sons.


Among the Gods

According to Pausanias, it was Athena who brought Heracles from the funeral pyre at Mount Oeta to Olympus, home of the gods.

Heracles became a god, living in Olympus, because he had performed the twelve labours and aiding the gods in their war against the Giants. Since he saved Hera from being rape by the giant Porphyrion, Hera had little choice but to reconcile with Heracles. Hera allowed the hero to marry her daughter, Hebe, goddess of youth, and Heracles became father of Alexiares and Anicetus.

When Iolaüs (Iolaus) defended Heracles' children (Heraclids) against Eurystheus' persecution, Heracles and Hebe helped Iolaüs to win the battle. To read some more about Heracles' children, see Heraclids.

Heracles had also visited Philoctetes and persuaded the archer to rejoin the Greeks forces in the war against Troy. Philoctetes, at first, was reluctant, because Odysseus and Agamemnon were responsible for abandoning him on the island of Lemnos, when he was bitten by snake. For nine years, he had lived on the island, alone, and bitterly resented those who had left him behind. Odysseus had gone back to bring him back, because Heracles had given the bow to him, before he died. The Greek seer, Calchas had foretold that Troy can never be taken without the bow of Heracles. Philoctetes would have shot down and kill Odysseus, had the god Heracles not intervened. (See Fall of Troy, about Philoctetes).

When Odysseus went to the Underworld, Heracles was the last shade to speak to him. While his immortal soul went to Olympus, his mortal half went to the Underworld. He was also placed amongst the stars in the sky as a constellation Engonasin ("Kneeler", but this constellation is now called Hercules).

The cloak from the lion's pelt he had always wore, helped to identify Heracles in the classical art, with the hood over his head. He was normally depicted carrying either his club or bow and arrows.

From: here
Herakles had a number of cult titles. Most of these derived from towns where he was worshipped, or local myths about the hero:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Θηβαιος Thêbaios Thebaeus Of Thebes
Τιρυνθιος Tirynthios Tirynthius Of Tiryns
Βουραικος Bouraikos Buraecus Of Boura
Θασιος Thasios Thasius Of Thasos
Μαντικλος Mantiklos Manticlus Of Manticlus (hero)
Κυνοσαργες Kynosarges Cynosarges White Dog
Προμαχος Promakhos Promachus Champion
Παραστατης Parastatês Parastates Comrade, Assister
Ἱπποδετος Hippodetos Hippodetus Horse-Binder
Ρινοκολουστης Rhinololoustês Rhinocolustes Nose-Clipper
Ιποκτονος Ipoktonos Ipoctonus Killer of Vine Worms
Κορνοπιων Kornopiôn Cornopium Locust Scarer
Χαροψ Kharops Charops Bright Eyed
Αποτροπαιος Apotropaios Apotropaeus Averting God
Μονοικος Monoikos Monoecus Solitary
Αιγυπτιος Aigyptios Aegyptius Egyptian

Some general cult terms include:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Ἡρακλειον Hêrakleion Heracleium Temple of Herakles
Ἡρακλεια Hêrakleia Heraclea Festival of Herakles


Herakles had a variety of poetic epithets and titles:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Αναξ Anax Anax Lord
Λεοντοθυμος Leontothymos Leontothymus Lion-Hearted

ALEXI′CACUS (Alexikakos), the averter of evil, is a surname given by the Greeks to several deities, as--Zeus (Orph. De Lapid. Prooem. i.),--to Apollo, who was worshipped under this name by the Athenians, because he was believed to have stopped the plague which raged at Athens in the time of the Peloponnesian war (Paus. i. 3. § 3, viii. 41. § 5),--and to Heracles. (Lactant. v. 3.)

BURA′ICUS (Bouraïkos), a surname of Heracles, derived from the Achaean town of Bura, near which he had a statue on the river Buraïcus, and an oracle in a cave. Persons who consulted this oracle first said prayers before the statue, and then took four dice from a heap which was always kept ready, and threw them upon a table. These dice were marked with certain characters, the meaning of which was explained with the help of a painting which hung in the cave. (Paus. vii. 25. § 6.)

CHAROPS (Charops), bright-eyed or joyful-looking, a surname of Heracles, under which he had a statue near mount Laphystion on the spot where he was believed to have brought forth Cerberus from the lower world. (Paus. ix. 34. § 4.)

[MENUTES or] INDEX, the indicater or denouncer, is a translation of Mênutês, a surname of Heracles. Once, the story runs, a golden vessel had been stolen from the temple of Heracles at Athens. Heracles repeatedly appeared to Sophocles in a dream, until the latter informed the Areiopagus of it, and the thief was arrested, and confessed his crime. From this circumstance the temple was afterwards called the temple of Heracles Menytes, or Index. (Cic. de Div. i. 25; Hesych. s. v. mênutês; Sophokleous genos kai bios.)

MACISTUS (Makistos). A surname of Heracles, who had a temple in the neighbourhood of the town of Macistus in Triphylia. (Strab. viii. p. 348.)

MECISTEUS (Mêkisteus). Mecisteus occurs as a surname of Heracles. (Lycoph. 651.)

MONOECUS (Monoikos), a surname of Heracles, signifying the god who lives solitary, perhaps because he alone was worshipped in the temples dedicated to him. (Strab. iv. p. 202; Virg. Aen. vi. 831; Plut. Quaest. Rom. 87.) In Liguria there was a temple called Monoecus (now Monaco; Strab. Virg. ll. cc. ; Tacit. Hist. iii. 42; Steph. Byz. s. v.).

OLY′MPIUS (Olumpios), the Olympian, occurs as a surname of Zeus (Hornm. Il. i. 353), Heracles (Herod. ii. 44), the Muses (Olympiades, Il. ii. 491), and in general of all the gods that were believed to live in Olympus.

PALAEMON (Palaimôn), signifies the wrestler, as in the surname of Heracles in Lycophron (663).

PRO′MACHUS (Promakhos). The name Promachus, that is, "the champion," also occurs as a surname of Heracles at Thebes (Paus. ix. 11. § 2), and of Hermes at Tanagra (ix. 22. § 2).

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.

HERAKLES was worshipped as the divine protector of mankind. He had a large number of shrines scattered throughout the ancient world and festivals were widely celebrated in his honour. His main cult centre was at Thebes, his place of birth according to myth.

In classical art Herakles was portrayed as a muscular man, with club and lion-skin cape.

The Herakleia were ancient festivals honoring the divine hero Heracles. The ancient Athenians celebrated the festival, which commemorated the death of Heracles, on the second day of the month of Metageitnion (which would fall in late July or early August), at the Κυνοσαργες (Kynosarges) gymnasium at the demos Diomeia outside the walls of Athens, in a sanctuary dedicated to Heracles. His priests were drawn from the list of boys who were not full Athenian citizens (nothoi). Many famous nothoi exercised there (such as Demosthenes) but it was probably not exclusively set aside for them. The Attic cults of Herakles were often closely connected with youth: at several of his cult sites there was a gymnasion attached, and there was a mythological tradition (perhaps originating in Boetia) that after Heracles died he was translated to Olympus, where he married Hebe, the personification of youth. Because of this Heracles is sometimes worshipped as a god and sometimes as a dead hero. In Thebes, the center of the cult of Heracles, the festivities lasted a number of days, and consisted of various athletic and musical contests (agones), as well as sacrifices. They were celebrated in the gymnasium of Iolaus, the nephew and eromenos of Heracles, and were known as the Iolaeia. The winners were awarded brass tripods.

From: Wiki
Also see:
Madness of Heracles
Twelve Labours of Heracles
Death of Iphitus
Death of Heracles

Disney vs Mythology Hercules Hercules portal, with info about her 12 Labors, associates, family, etc
Theoi: Herakles Cult 1 -- Part 2 -- Cult 3

Wiki: Roman Hercules
Labours of Hercules



The Life and Times of Hercules
Women and Hercules
The Labors of Hercules

Constellation myth/info:
Another (good site!)
And another
And one more

A few things about some Roman temples:
Aedes Herculis Musarum
Aedes Herculis Victoris
Ara Maxima Herculis
Templum Herculis Invicti
Aedes Herculis Custodis

Article about Roman Hercules

Roman coin:
Hercules, the Heavy Hitter

Roman-Gaulish associations:
Magisus: a Gaulish God, also known as Hercules Magesus (The Great One)
Ogmios: a Gaulish and Irish God, also known as Ogma, Ogmia
Ogmios Ogma and Heracles (Lucian)

Hercules -- Modern hymn
The Shield of Heracles

The Myth of the Birth of the Hero: II. The Circle of Myths: Hercules

CHAPTER XIX. Hercules- Hebe And Ganymede.

What Herakles Means to Me by Astalon
Warrior Archetypes X: Hercules - Heroic Insanity

Some info
Who was Hercules?
More You Should Know About Hercules

12 Labors

Heracles (Hercules)
Hercules 1 -- 2 -- 3

Herakles and Healing Cult in the Peloponnesos
Herakles in Cult describes some of the cult practices devoted to Herakles, as hero and god, throughout the Greek and Roman world.
Herakles in Classical Art
Relationships with the Gods
Women and Sexuality discusses Herakles as a lover and a husband, as well as his significant conflicts with Hera and the Amazons.
Monsters and Labors
Cross-cultural Connections
Moral Aspects of Herakles
Herakles in Popular Culture free/download-able book: Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality (has chapters on Hercules)

1 comment:

  1. Hercules is not Heracles they are different persons. Are you out of your mind? Hercules was from acient Greece son of Zeus. Heracles was the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire!