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Notebook

Notebook, 1993-

ANCIENT GREEK CULTURE

[From: Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]

Demigods and Heros - Achilles - Aegisthus - Agamemnon - Ajax the Locrian - Ajax the Telamonian - Alcestis - Amphiaraos - Amphitrite - Antigone - Atalanta - Belerophon - Cadmus - Clytemnestra - Daedalus - Danae - Dioscuri - Electra - Europa - Eurydice - Ganymede - Hector - Hecuba - Helen - Heracles - Hippolytus - Icarus - Io - Iphigenia - Jason - Leda - Menelaus - Minos - Nestor - Niobe - Odysseus - Oedipus - Orestes - Medea - Orpheus - Paris - Pasiphae - Pelops - Penelope - Perseus - Phaedra - Phaethon - Phrixus - Priam - Telemachus - Theseus - Triptolemus

Heracles

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Heracles The son of Zeus and Alcmene, a descendant of Perseus. Zeus had taken the shape of the husband of Alcmene, daughter of Amphitrion, from which union issued the most illustrious, the most talked about, and the greatest hero of the ancient world. Hera pursued with special vengeance the son of Alcmene by Zeus. Thus when Alcmene gave birth to the two sons, Heracles, whom she had by the greatest Olympian and Iphicles by Amphitzion, she sent two frightful serpents to strangle the new-born hero. But Heracles crushed both with his hands, displaying his strength at an early age. The tutors of Heracles, besides his father, were Linus, Eumolpus, and Castor. Linus became his first victim, and when he was very young Amphitrion as a result sent him to live on Cithaeron. There he grew into manhood, slew a lion, and possessed the fifty daughters of the king Thespius in the belief that it was the same woman who received him each night [some say all in one night]. Following this, he took as wife Megara, with whom he had children but some time later, in a fit of insanity, he slew both her and his offspring. In a state of repentance, he visited Delphi wither he had gone for purification and was given instructions to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae. In fulfillment of the command he served Eurystheus in the course of which he performed the famous Twelve Labours: 1. Destruction of the lion of Nemea. 2. Slaying of the Hydra of Lerna. 3. Capture of the Hind of Caryneia. 4. Capture of the Erymanthian Boar. 5. Cleansing of the Augean Stables. 6. Shooting of the Stymphalian Birds. 7. Capture of the Cretan Bull. 8. Seizure of the man-eating Horses of Diomedes. 9. Seizure of the Girdle of the Amazon Hippolyta. 10. Capture of the Oxen of Geryon. 11. Finding of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. 12. Descending into Hades to capture and bound Cerberus. These labours took Heracles to all parts of the then known world and he met other heroes such as Theseus and the Argonauts on his journeys. He went so far as to help the gods in their battle against the Giants, and slew the eagle that had been plucking the liver of Prometheus. Later he fell in love with Iole but because her father king Eurytus refused to give her as wife, he slew his son Iphitus, and to obtain purification for the crime he was commanded to work as a servant for Omphale, queen of Lydia. He subsequently took part in the hunt of the Colydonian boar and marched against [p. 64] troy. Following numerous feats of strength, he took as wife Deianira after battling with the river Achelous who was one of her suitors. But he clashed with the centaur Nessus when the latter attempted to violate Deianira and slew him, but before the centaur died he gave to Deinira a poisonous philtre. The demise of Heracles was tragic. Since Deianira believed that Heracles would abandon her for the sake of Iole, she sent him a robe dipped in the poisonous philtre of Nessus in the hope that she would recover his love. But once Heracles donned the robe his flesh immediately became inflamed. Unable to withstand the terrible pains, he ascended the peak of Oeta and there cast himself onto a pyre which he himself had built. But Zeus rescued him from the flames and carried him to Olympus w here he was deified. The symbol of power and vigour, Heracles was worshipped both as a hero and a deity. A bon viveur, fond of revelry, and a person who enjoyed the good things in life, he was in the eyes of the Greeks an avenger of evil deeds, a man who did not hesitate to face any danger wherever forthcoming. The final moments of the hero were described by Sophocles in his tragedy the Trachinian Women. Heracles was a very popular theme for the artists of antiquity, and his labours and adventures decorated countless vases in all ages. Heracles was worshipped in many parts of Greece, and festivals and games called the Heracleia were held in his honour. He is usually depicted with a club and lion's skin. [pp. 64-65]

[Kyriazis, Constantine D. Eternal Greece. Translated by Harry T. Hionides. A Chat Publication.]




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