Aquarius – Mind – Ankles: HERCULES

The mythographers of the Hellenistic period are the surviving written source of the exploits of Heracles, complemented by the extensive iconography. The Mythological Library is a book written by the Athenian Apollodorus in the 1st or 2nd century A.D. that partly compiles Greek mythology, from the origins of the universe to the Trojan War. Used as a reference by classicists, it has influenced the literature on the classical world, and provides us with the canonical biography of this hero. The beautiful Alcmene, daughter of the king of Mycenae, offers herself in marriage to Amphitrite, grandson of Perseus, if he avenges the death of his brothers, remaining a virgin until that moment. On the verge of the triumphant return of the husband, the king of the gods.

Zeus adopts her physical appearance, deceiving her to go to bed together, in a night that lasted about three nights. In the morning, Amphitrite appeared, also having sexual intercourse. As a result of these successive unions, two twin boys were born. When they are eight months old, the goddess Hera, aggrieved by Zeus’ infidelity, deposits two snakes in the cradle of the older one, who strangles them one with each hand, thus manifesting his divine descent.

Host, decides to adopt the baby Heracles, and teaches him the arts of war. For killing his music teacher in a fit of anger, throwing the lyre at his head, he is punished to go to the field and guard the cattle, growing in strength and corpulence. He was 18 years old when he decided to kill the lion that attacked his herd and that of the king of Thespies, who sheltered him for 50 days in his palace before the hunt, sending him one of his daughters every night, to keep his offspring, while Heracles believed that he always slept with the same one. After killing the lion, skinning it and covering himself with its skin, using its head as a helmet, he helps the Thebans to free themselves from the tax they were obliged to pay.

In return, he betroths the king’s daughter, with whom he has three sons. The jealous Hera drives him mad, causing him to throw the children into the fire. Horrified by his act, he decides to go into exile, and after purifying himself, he goes to the oracle of Delphi, who tells him that he must settle in Tirynthos for 12 years, under the orders of his king Eurystheus, fulfilling the 12 works that would be imposed on him; and at its conclusion, he would achieve immortality. He stoically traveled the world performing feats considered impossible, defeating the Amazons and ferocious monsters in the form of lion, boar, deer, bull, mare, dog, and hydra. The tenth assignment was to capture the oxen of the tyrant Gerion, guarded by a two-headed dog, on an island of Gadir (Cadiz).

In his numerous ventures he manifested courage, pride, obfuscation, gluttony, and lasciviousness. Paradigm of virility, with numerous children, Plutarch states that he also had countless male lovers, and one of them, his nephew Yolao, tells that in his time the male couples came down to his tomb in Thebes to swear an oath of fidelity to him and to each other.

 The annihilation of his family and his horrible death constituted two frequent themes in classical Greek Tragedy (especially in Euripides) , and his coarse sensuality provided jocular motifs for Comedy, with the six mythological parodies of the pre-Socratic Epicarmus of Syracuse (5th century B.C.), where he caricatures some of his features, standing out. In Heracles to the conquest of the belt located in Sicily, he transforms his fight against the Amazons, with the incorporation of an army of beetles.

Philosophy turned him into an exterminator of plagues and vices, and a moralist: «Hercules at the crossroads», an argument transmitted by Xenophon (4th century B.C.) and taken up by the iconography of Humanism, highlights the virtuous facet of the hero, according to the episode in which two divinities appear to him in the form of women, one being an allegory of vice and the other of virtue, which offer him immediate pleasure as opposed to a long and difficult path that leads to spiritual glory. Our hero chooses the second path, setting himself up again as a model of virtue and spiritual strength (Pandiello 2012:68). In addition to demonstrating great civilizing and foundational capacity.

I invite you to read Matías’ post on the topic of the day

Finally, I encourage everyone to reflect on the concept of the day. No one else but us can re-signify our own being

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