Hercules - The Kneeling Man


Fixed Stars

Western Mythologies




Zeus swore that the next son born of the Perseid house should become ruler of Greece, but by a trick of Zeus's jealous wife, Hera, another child, the sickly Eurystheus, was born first and became king; when Heracles grew up, he had to serve him and also suffer the vengeful persecution of Hera. His first exploit, in fact, was the strangling of two serpents that she had sent to kill him in his cradle.

It was Eurystheus who imposed upon Heracles the famous Labours, later arranged in a cycle of 12, usually as follows: (1) the slaying of the Nemean lion, whose skin he thereafter wore; (2) the slaying of the nine-headed Hydra of Lerna; (3) the capture of the elusive hind (or stag) of Arcadia ; (4) the capture of the wild boar of Mt. Erymanthus; (5) the cleansing, in a single day, of the cattle stables of King Augeas (q.v.) of Elis; (6) the shooting of the monstrous man-eating birds of the Stymphalian marshes; (7) the capture of the mad bull that terrorized the island of Crete; (8) the capture of the man-eating mares of King Diomedes of the Bistones; (9) the taking of the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons; (10) the seizing of the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryon, who ruled the island Erytheia (meaning Red) in the far west; (11) the bringing back of the golden apples kept at the world's end by the Hesperides; and (12) the fetching up from the lower world of the triple-headed dog Cerberus, guardian of its gates. The labours of Hercules, for instance, stood for the wanderings and trials of all Christian men; the Hellenic theme of heroic warfare took a Christianized form, available to allegory much later.

Herakles (Hercules) is said to have obtained a lock of Medusa's hair (which possessed the same powers as the head) from Athena and given it to Sterope, the daughter of Cepheus, as a protection for the town of Tegea against attack; when exposed to view, the lock was supposed to bring on a storm, which put the enemy to flight.


In areas of Spain which where under Greek and Phoenician colonization, local gods were readily identified with Roman ones, the most striking example being the cult of Hercules/Melqart at Gades.


Moreover, the 3rd-century-BC mythographer Euhemerus had elaborated a theory that the gods themselves had once been human; this idea was readily adapted to the supposed careers of Heracles (Hercules) and the Dioscuri (Castor and Polydeuces [Pollux]); and the Romans applied it to their own gods Saturn and Quirinus, the latter identified with the national founder, Romulus, risen to heaven. And so it became customary—if emperors (and empresses) were approved of in their lives—to raise them to divinity after their deaths.



In post-Achaemenian times Hercules was syncretistically equated with Vrthraghna “the smashing of resistance or obstruction." A favourite deity of monarchs, some of whom took his name. Vrthraghna capacity as the god who guaranteed his people the ability to overcome all enemy resistance, his name came to be understood in the general sense of “Victory.”

European Indigenous Mythologies

"Q" Celts


"P" Celts



Astrocelt 1998

Last updated 09/03/2004