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15 Terrifying Greek Mythological Creatures
 

Myths of Greece and Roma
H.A Guerba


THE BEGINNING OF ALL THINGS.
Mythology is the science which treats of the early traditions, or myths, relating to the religion of the ancients,
and includes, besides a full account of the origin of their gods, their theory concerning the beginning of all
things.
Among all the nations scattered over the face of the earth, the Hebrews alone were instructed by God, who gave them not only a full account of the creation of the world and of all living creatures, but also a code of
laws to regulate their conduct. All the questions they fain would ask were fully answered, and no room remained for conjecture.
It was not so, however, with the other nations. The Greeks and Romans, for instance, lacking the definite knowledge which we obtain from the Scriptures, and still anxious to know everything, were forced to
construct, in part, their own theory. As they looked about them for some clue to serve as guide, they could not help but observe and admire the wonders of nature. The succession of day and night, summer and winter, rain and sunshine; the fact that the tallest trees sprang from tiny seeds, the greatest rivers from diminutive streams,
and the most beautiful flowers and delicious fruits from small green buds,--all seemed to tell them of a
superior Being, who had fashioned them to serve a definite purpose.
They soon came to the conclusion that a hand mighty enough to call all these wonders into life, could also
have created the beautiful Earth whereon they dwelt. These thoughts gave rise to others; suppositions became
certainties; and soon the following myth or fable was evolved, to be handed down from generation to generation.
At first, when all things lay in a great confused mass,--
"Ere earth, and sea, and covering heavens, were known, The face of nature, o'er the world, was one; And men have call'd it Chaos; formless, rude, The mass; dead matter's weight, inert, and crude; Where, in mix'd heap of ill-compounded mold, The jarring seeds of things confusedly roll'd.".
The Earth did not exist. Land, sea, and air were mixed up together; so that the earth was not solid, the sea was not fluid, nor the air transparent.
"No sun yet beam'd from yon cerulean height; No orbing moon repair'd her horns of light; No earth, self-poised, on liquid ether hung; No sea its world-enclasping waters flung; Earth was half air, half sea, an
embryo heap; Nor earth was fix'd, nor fluid was the deep; Dark was the void of air; no form was traced;
Obstructing atoms struggled through the waste; Where cold, and hot, and moist, and dry rebell'd; Heavy the light, and hard the soft repell'd."
Over this shapeless mass reigned a careless deity called Chaos, whose personal appearance could not be
described, as there was no light by which he could be seen. He shared his throne with his wife, the dark
goddess of Night, named Nyx or Nox, whose black robes, and still blacker countenance, did not tend to enliven the surrounding gloom.
These two divinities wearied of their power in the course of time, and called their son Erebus (Darkness) to their assistance. His first act was to dethrone and supplant Chaos; and then, thinking he would be happier with a helpmeet, he married his own mother, Nyx. Of course, with our present views, this marriage was a heinous sin; but the ancients, who at first had no fixed laws, did not consider this union unsuitable, and recounted how Erebus and Nyx ruled over the chaotic world together, until their two beautiful children, Æther (Light) and Hemera (Day), acting in concert, dethroned them, and seized the supreme power.
 
Space, illumined for the first time by their radiance, revealed itself in all its uncouthness. Æther and Hemera carefully examined the confusion, saw its innumerable possibilities, and decided to evolve from it a "thing of beauty;" but quite conscious of the magnitude of such an undertaking, and feeling that some assistance would be desirable, they summoned Eros (Amor or Love), their own child, to their aid. By their combined efforts, Pontus (the Sea) and Gæa (Ge, Tellus, Terra), as the Earth was first called, were created. In the beginning the Earth did not present the beautiful appearance that it does now. No trees waved their leafy branches on the hillsides; no flowers bloomed in the valleys; no grass grew on the plains; no birds flew through the air. All was silent, bare, and motionless. Eros, the first to perceive these deficiencies, seized his
life-giving arrows and pierced the cold bosom of the Earth. Immediately the brown surface was covered with luxuriant verdure; birds of many colors flitted through the foliage of the new-born forest trees; animals of all kinds gamboled over the grassy plains; and swift-darting fishes swam in the limpid streams. All was now life, joy, and motion.
Gæa, roused from her apathy, admired all that had already been done for her embellishment, and, resolving to crown and complete the work so well begun, created Uranus (Heaven).
"Her first-born Earth produc'd, Of like immensity, the starry Heaven: That he might sheltering compass her around on every side."
 
This version of the creation of the world, although but one of the many current with the Greeks and Romans,
was the one most generally adopted; but another, also very popular, stated that the first divinities, Erebus and Nyx, produced a gigantic egg, from which Eros, the god of love, emerged to create the Earth.
"In the dreary chaotical closet Of Erebus old, was a privy deposit, By Night the primæval in secrecy laid; A Mystical Egg, that in silence and shade was brooded and hatched; till time came about: And Love, the
delightful, in glory flew out..
The Earth thus created was supposed by the ancients to be a disk, instead of a sphere as science has proved.
 
The Greeks fancied that their country occupied a central position, and that Mount Olympus, a very high mountain, the mythological abode of their gods, was placed in the exact center. Their Earth was divided into
two equal parts by Pontus (the Sea,--equivalent to our Mediterranean and Black Seas); and all around it flowed the great river Oceanus in a "steady, equable current," undisturbed by storm, from which the Sea and all the rivers were supposed to derive their waters.
 

The Greeks also imagined that the portion of the Earth directly north of their country was inhabited by a fortunate race of men, the Hyperboreans, who dwelt in continual bliss, and enjoyed a never-ending springtide.
Their homes were said to be "inaccessible by land or by sea." They were "exempt from disease, old age, and death," and were so virtuous that the gods frequently visited them, and even condescended to share their feasts and games. A people thus favored could not fail to be happy, and many were the songs in praise of their sunny land.
"I come from a land in the sun-bright deep, Where golden gardens grow; Where the winds of the north, becalm'd in sleep, Their conch shells never blow.
"So near the track of the stars are we, That oft, on night's pale beams, The distant sounds of their harmony Come to our ears, like dreams.
"The Moon, too, brings her world so nigh, That when the night-seer looks To that shadowless orb, in a vernal sky, He can number its hills and brooks.
"To the Sun god all our hearts and lyres By day, by night, belong; And the breath we draw from his living fires We give him back in songs...
 

South of Greece, also near the great river Oceanus, dwelt another nation, just as happy and virtuous as the Hyperboreans,--the Ethiopians. They, too, often enjoyed the company of the gods, who shared their innocent pleasures with great delight.
And far away, on the shore of this same marvelous river, according to some mythologists, were the beautiful Isles of the Blest, where mortals who had led virtuous lives, and had thus found favor in the sight of the gods, were transported without tasting of death, and where they enjoyed an eternity of bliss. These islands had sun,
moon, and stars of their own, and were never visited by the cold wintry winds that swept down from the north.
"The Isles of the Blest, they say, The Isles of the Blest, Are peaceful and happy, by night and by day, Faraway in the glorious west.
"They need not the moon in that land of delight, They need not the pale, pale star; The sun is bright, by day and night, Where the souls of the blessed are.
"They till not the ground, they plow not the wave, They labor not, never! oh, never! Not a tear do they shed,
not a sigh do they heave, They are happy, for ever and ever!"
 
Chaos, Erebus, and Nyx were deprived of their power by Æther and Hemera, who did not long enjoy the possession of the scepter; for Uranus and Gæa, more powerful than their progenitors, soon forced them to depart, and began to reign in their stead. They had not dwelt long on the summit of Mount Olympus, before they found themselves the parents of twelve gigantic children, the Titans, whose strength was such that their father, Uranus, greatly feared them. To prevent their ever making use of it against him, he seized them immediately after their birth, hurled them down into a dark abyss called Tartarus, and there chained them fast.
 
This chasm was situated far under the earth; and Uranus knew that his six sons (Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Cronus), as well as his six daughters, the Titanides (Ilia, Rhea, Themis, Thetis,
Mnemosyne, and Phoebe), could not easily escape from its cavernous depths. The Titans did not long remain sole occupants of Tartarus, for one day the brazen doors were again thrown wide open to admit the
Cyclopes,--Brontes (Thunder), Steropes (Lightning), and Arges (Sheet-lightning),--three later-born children of Uranus and Gæa, who helped the Titans to make the darkness hideous with their incessant clamor for
freedom. In due time their number was increased by the three terrible Centimani (Hundred-handed), Cottus, Briareus, and Gyes, who were sent thither by Uranus to share their fate.
Greatly dissatisfied with the treatment her children had received at their father's hands, Gæa remonstrated, but all in vain. Uranus would not grant her request to set the giants free, and, whenever their muffled cries reached his ear, he trembled for his own safety. Angry beyond all expression, Gæa swore revenge, and descended into Tartarus, where she urged the Titans to conspire against their father, and attempt to wrest the scepter from his grasp.
 
All listened attentively to the words of sedition; but none were courageous enough to carry out her plans, except Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, more familiarly known as Saturn or Time, who found confinement and chains peculiarly galling, and who hated his father for his cruelty. Gæa finally induced him to lay violent hands upon his sire, and, after releasing him from his bonds, gave him a scythe, and bade him be of good cheer and return victorious.
Thus armed and admonished, Cronus set forth, came upon his father unawares, defeated him, thanks to his extraordinary weapon, and, after binding him fast, took possession of the vacant throne, intending to rule the universe forever. Enraged at this insult, Uranus cursed his son, and prophesied that a day would come when he, too, would be supplanted by his children, and would suffer just punishment for his rebellion.
 
Cronus paid no heed to his father's imprecations, but calmly proceeded to release the Titans, his brothers and sisters, who, in their joy and gratitude to escape the dismal realm of Tartarus, expressed their willingness to be ruled by him. Their satisfaction was complete, however, when he chose his own sister Rhea (Cybele, Ops) for his consort, and assigned to each of the others some portion of the world to govern at will. To Oceanus and Thetis, for example, he gave charge over the ocean and all the rivers upon earth; while to Hyperion and Phoebe he intrusted the direction of the sun and moon, which the ancients supposed were daily driven across the sky in brilliant golden chariots.
Peace and security now reigned on and around Mount Olympus; and Cronus, with great satisfaction, congratulated himself on the result of his enterprise. One fine morning, however, his equanimity was
disturbed by the announcement that a son was born to him. The memory of his father's curse then suddenly returned to his mind. Anxious to avert so great a calamity as the loss of his power, he hastened to his wife, determined to devour the child, and thus prevent him from causing further annoyance. Wholly unsuspicious,
Rhea heard him inquire for his son. Gladly she placed him in his extended arms; but imagine her surprise and
horror when she beheld her husband swallow the babe!
 
Time passed, and another child was born, but only to meet with the same cruel fate. One infant after another disappeared down the capacious throat of the voracious Cronus,--a personification of Time, who creates only to destroy. In vain the bereaved mother besought the life of one little one: the selfish, hard-hearted father would not relent. As her prayers seemed unavailing, Rhea finally resolved to obtain by stratagem the boon her husband denied; and as soon as her youngest son, Jupiter (Jove, Zeus), was born, she concealed him.
Cronus, aware of his birth, soon made his appearance, determined to dispose of him in the usual summary manner. For some time Rhea pleaded with him, but at last pretended to yield to his commands. Hastily
wrapping a large stone in swaddling clothes, she handed it to Cronus, simulating intense grief. Cronus was evidently not of a very inquiring turn of mind, for he swallowed the whole without investigating the real
contents of the shapeless bundle.
"To th' imperial son of Heaven, Whilom the king of gods, a stone she gave Inwrapt in infant swathes; and this with grasp Eager he snatch'd, and in his ravening breast Convey'd away: unhappy! nor once thought That for the stone his child behind remain'd Invincible, secure; who soon, with hands Of strength o'ercoming him, should cast him forth From glory, and himself th' immortals rule."
 
Ignorant of the deception practiced upon him, Cronus then took leave, and the overjoyed mother clasped her rescued treasure to her breast. It was not sufficient, however, to have saved young Jupiter from imminent
death: it was also necessary that his father should remain unconscious of his existence.
 
To insure this, Rhea intrusted her babe to the tender care of the Melian nymphs, who bore him off to a cave on Mount Ida. There a goat, Amalthea, was procured to act as nurse, and fulfilled her office so acceptably that she was eventually placed in the heavens as a constellation, a brilliant reward for her kind ministrations. To
prevent Jupiter's cries being heard in Olympus, the Curetes (Corybantes), Rhea's priests, uttered piercing screams, clashed their weapons, executed fierce dances, and chanted rude war songs.
The real significance of all this unwonted noise and commotion was not at all understood by Cronus, who, in the intervals of his numerous affairs, congratulated himself upon the cunning he had shown to prevent the accomplishment of his father's curse. But all his anxiety and fears were aroused when he suddenly became aware of the fraud practiced upon him, and of young Jupiter's continued existence. He immediately tried to devise some plan to get rid of him; but, before he could put it into execution, he found himself attacked, and, after a short but terrible encounter, signally defeated.
 
Jupiter, delighted to have triumphed so quickly, took possession of the supreme power, and aided by Rhea's counsels, and by a nauseous potion prepared by Metis, a daughter of Oceanus, compelled Cronus to produce the unfortunate children he had swallowed; i.e., Neptune, Pluto, Vesta, Ceres, and Juno.
Following the example of his predecessor, Jupiter gave his brothers and sisters a fair share of his new kingdom. The wisest among the Titans--Mnemosyne, Themis, Oceanus, and Hyperion--submitted to the new
sovereign without murmur, but the others refused their allegiance; which refusal, of course, occasioned a deadly conflict.
"When gods began with wrath, And war rose up between their starry brows, Some choosing to cast Cronus from his throne That Zeus might king it there, and some in haste With opposite oaths that they would have no Zeus To rule the gods forever."
Greek Mythology Family Tree
 
 
 
Greek Islands - Traditional Music (Instrumental) Michael Kyriakopoulos
 

Acis and Galatea


Polyphemus once accidentally came upon them thus, here they were aware of his proximity. For a moment he glared down upon them; then, seizing a huge rock, he vowed his rival Acis should not live to enjoy the love
which was denied him, and hurled it down upon the unsuspecting lovers. Galatea, the goddess, being
immortal, escaped unhurt; but poor Acis, her beloved, was crushed to death. The stream of blood from his
mangled remains was changed by the gods into an exhaustless stream of limpid water, which ever hastened
down to the sea to join Galatea.
 
Ulysses and his companions, waiting in the cave, soon felt the ground shake beneath their feet, and saw the
sheep throng into the cave and take their usual places; then behind them came the horrible apparition of
Polyphemus, who picked up a huge rock and placed it before the opening of the cave, preventing all egress.
Ulysses' companions had shrunk with fear into the darkest corners of the cave, whence they watched the giant
milk his ewes, dispose of his cheeses, and make his evening meal. But the firelight soon revealed the intruders; and Polyphemus immediately demanded who they were, whence they came, and what they were
seeking.
Ulysses, ever wily, replied that his name was No man, that he and his companions were shipwrecked
mariners, and that they would fain receive his hospitality. In answer to this statement, the Cyclops stretched
forth his huge hand and grasped two of the sailors, whom he proceeded to devour for dessert. Then, his
frightful repast being ended, he lay down on the rushes and fell asleep, his loud snores reverberating like
thunder through the great cave.
Ulysses silently crept to his side, sword in hand, and was about to kill him, when he suddenly recollected that neither he nor his men could move the rock at the cave's mouth, and that they would never be able to escape.
He therefore resolved to have recourse to a stratagem.
When morning came, the giant rose, milked his flock, made his cheese, arranged the vessels, and then,
without the least warning, again seized and devoured two of the Greeks. His brawny arm next pushed aside the rock, and he stood beside it with watchful eye, until all his herd had passed out; then, replacing the stone to prevent the escape of his prisoners, he went off to the distant pasture ground.
During his absence, Ulysses and his men devised a cunning plan whereby they hoped to effect their escape,
and made all their preparations to insure its complete success. A huge pine club which they found in the cave
was duly pointed, hardened in the fire, and set aside for future use.
When the darkness began to fall over the earth, Polyphemus again rolled the stone away to admit his flocks,
keeping careful guard upon the Greeks. The sheep all in, he replaced the rock, performed his usual evening
duties, and then devoured two of Ulysses' crew.
 
When this part of the evening meal was over, Ulysses drew near and offered him a leather flask full of heady wine, which the giant took down at a gulp, little suspecting its effect. Very soon he sank into a deep drunken sleep; and then the men, at a sign from Ulysses, heated the point of the huge club and put out his sole eye, in spite of his frightful cries and execrations, which soon attracted the attention of the other Cyclopes.
They thronged without the cave, clamoring to know who was hurting him. "No man!" replied the Cyclops,
howling with pain, "No man!" which answer convinced his would-be helpers that he needed no assistance,
and made them disperse.
"'If no man does thee violence, and thou Art quite alone, reflect that none escape Diseases; they are sent by
Jove.'"
Homer .
[Sidenote: Ulysses' escape.]
Deserted by his companions, Polyphemus spent the night in agony; and, when the anxious lowing of his herd roused him at break of day, he fumblingly milked them, and prepared to let them go forth, as usual, in search of their morning meal. To avoid the Greeks escaping, he rolled the stone only partly aside, and allowed the sheep to pass out a few at a time, carefully running his hand over each broad back to make sure that none of the prisoners were mounted upon them.
Ulysses, in the mean while, having observed this maneuver, fastened his companions under the rams,
reserving one for his own use, and watched them pass out one after the other undetected. Then, clinging to the wool of the largest ram, he too was slowly dragged out; while Polyphemus petted the ram, and inquired how he came to pass out last of all.
"'My favorite ram, how art thou now the last To leave the cave? It hath not been thy wont To let the sheep go
first, but thou didst come Earliest to feed among the flowery grass, Walking with stately strides, and thou wert first At the fresh stream, and first at eve to seek The stable; now thou art the last of all. Grievest thou for thy master, who has lost His eye, put out by a deceitful wretch And his vile crew?'"
Ulysses, having thus escaped, sprang to his feet, set his companions free, rushed with them down to the
seashore, taking the choice animals on board, and then, when his men had rowed some distance, raised his
voice and taunted Polyphemus, revealing at the same time his identity.
"'Ha! Cyclops! those whom in thy rocky cave Thou, in thy brutal fury, hast devoured, Were friends of one not unexpert in war; Amply have thy own guilty deeds returned Upon thee. Cruel one! who didst not fear To eat
the strangers sheltered by thy roof, Jove and the other gods avenge them thus!
  1. * * * *
Cyclops, if any man of mortal birth Note thine unseemly blindness, and inquire The occasion, tell him that
Laertes' son, Ulysses, the destroyer of walled towns, Whose home is Ithaca, put out thine eye.'"
 
With a cry of rage, Polyphemus then ran down to the shore, tore up some huge rocks, which he hurled in the
direction whence the taunting voice came, and in his rage almost destroyed the Greeks; for one piece of rock
fell very near their vessel, and they were forced to redouble their efforts to row out of reach and prevent
disaster.
 
Event Departure
Silent Partner
 
Robert Graves - The Greek Myths
 
 
THE STORY OF HERCULES
 
Birth of a Hero
 
Both Thebes and Argos claim Heracles as its child. Thebes is the most widely accepted, but there are reasons to believe that Argos was his birthplace. Regardless, Zeus desired to rear a champion for both gods and mortals and decided that Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon, would be the honorable mother. Whilst Amphitryon was away at war, Zeus lay with Alcmene in Amphitryon’s guise, making one night last as long as three. Amphitryon returned, and naturally wanted to spend time with his wife. Of course, Alcmene was a tad surprised but nevertheless obliged. As a result, twins were born: Heracles to Zeus and Iphicles to Amphitryon.
 
Although she is portrayed as the “evil stepmother” on television, Hera was not necessarily corrupt. She was, however, understandingly outraged that Zeus has sired yet another bastard son. She plotted, but fell asleep. As she dozed, Hermes placed the babe on Hera’s breast. The rambunctious child awoke Hera, and she shoved him aside, her milk splattering across the heavens [which eventually became the Milky Way]. Zeus was pleased; Heracles had been nursed by a goddess, and eventually would become immortal. In vengeance, Hera spitefully sent two serpents down to the twins’ cradle. Iphicles bellowed in terror, but Heracles was curious and grabbed each snake by each hand and strangled them to death...
 
Early Adventures
 
After this incident, Amphitryon became suspicious about the child and consulted the blind seer Tiresias. Tiresias revealed that Heracles was the son of Zeus and was destined to be a champion. Amphitryon then brought up the child with care, hiring the best tutors and athletic trainers for the boys. Heracles developed a love for the outdoors by helping his father with farmwork, and it was with the work his strength grew.
 
Heracles grew, and his first real test of strength was when he was summoned to kill the lion of Mount Kithaeron. The beast had been ravaging the herds of Amphitryon, and Heracles had little problem disposing of the monster. He skinned the lion, and some say it was the pelt that he is constantly portrayed in [others believe it was the Nemean lion's hide which he wore]. Whilst he was away, the city of Thebes became entrenched in a war with Orchomenus; Heracles immediately armed the Thebans with spoils from the temples. As soon as victory was assured, Heracles flooded Orchomenus's crops. Athena observed Heracles shrewdness and bravery and thus became an ally for life. Neither she nor Heracles could save Amphitryon, however, who lost his life in battle.
 
The king of Thebes, Creon, bestowed his daughter Megara as his wife; Iphicles was given her younger sister. Both brothers produced numerous children, among them Iphichles's son Iolaus, who eventually became Heracles 'understudy' and best friend. They had many early adventures together, among them the Calydonian boar hunt and voyage with the Argonauts, which was cut short as Heracles’s squire, Hylas, was taken by a river goddess.
 
Hera was well aware of Heracles’s growing abilities and decided it was time to again start scheming. She afflicted Heracles with a sudden madness, which caused him to attack Iolaus, who luckily escaped. Heracles began shooting arrows at imaginary beasts; when the madness lifted he discovered he had killed his children and two of Iphicles. Horrified, Heracles secluded himself from any human contact and begged the king of Thespiae for purification. He then consulted an oracle for atonement and was instructed that he was to service the king of Argos, Eurystheus. The result was the famous Labors of Heracles.
The Labors
 
Will add details soon....
 
The Nemean Lion
The Hydra
The Erymanthian Boar
The Ceryneia Hind
The Stymphalian Birds
The Augean Stables
The Cretan Bull
The Horses of Diomedes
The Amazon Girdle
The Cattle of Geryon
Cerberus
The Apples of the Hesperides
 
Slave Again
 
Heracles returned to Thebes. He separated from Megara [or, according to Euripedes, killed her in his madness] and decided to seek a new wife. Eurytus of Oechalia was looking for a husband for his daughter Iole, but the potential suitor had to shoot better than he. Heracles did just that, and Eurytus accused him of cheating. Disgruntled, Heracles departed, vowing revenge.
 
In the meantime, Eurytus discovered some of his horses had been stolen and assumed Heracles as the thief. The real culprit had sold them to an unbeknowest Heracles. Eurytus's son, Iphitus, refused to believe that Heracles was at guilt and set off to prove the point. Heracles invited him to dine at his house, but Iphitus accidently let it slip the reason for his visit. Enraged at being accused, Heracles killed him, which is an unforgivable crime in Greece: murdering a guest in your own home. He had not even a madness to blame.
 
He went to Delphi to consult the Pythoness, but she refused to speak with the heathen. Angered, Heracles threatened her and seized the tripod. She called upon Apollo. Apollo confronted Heracles, who attacked the god, and Zeus was forced to use a thunderbolt to separate his sons. The king of gods declared that once again Heracles be enslaved as punishment and purification for murdering Iphitus and desecrating Apollo's shrine. This time his servitude was to Queen Omphale of Lydia. Omphale was impressed with the strong, handsome man, and one can hardly call his duties to her "arduous".
 
Exploits in Troy
 
The king of Troy, Laomedon, had enraged Poseidon, who sent a sea monster to terrorize the kingdom. Consulting an oracle, Laomedon was horrified to discover he needed to sacrifice his daughter Hesione in order rid his kingdom of the beast. Heracles found the girl chained to a rock, and quickly freed her. He then offered Laomedon to slay the monster in exchange for two wonderful mares, which had been presents from Zeus when he abducted Ganymede. Laomedon agreed, and Heracles, with the help from Athene, killed the monster. [The Trojans, in the meantime, had built a high earthwork along the shore that stood steadfast, even during the ensuing Trojan War.]
 
Laomedon was grateful but rescinded on the agreement. He tried to trick Heracles with two ordinary horses. Podarces, the king's son, loudly protested, but Laomedon bade him away. Heracles was not deceived, and marched back to Greece for an army and revenge. Laomedon was defeated and all in his family, save Hesione and Podarces, was killed. Podarces inherited the kingdom and changed his name to Priam, "the redeemed".
 
Deianira and Death
 
Heracles decided it was time to settle and chose another wife. He sought Deianira, daughter of the king of Calydon. He fought the river god Achelous for her hand and easily disposed of his rival. Heracles and Deianira lived in peace in Calydon, but one day Heracles accidently killed a cupbearer, and the two were forced to flee to Trachis.
 
Nessus's attempt to rape Deianira
 
One their way they had to cross a high river. Heracles could easily swim across and carry his wife, but she would still get wet, and she being the prude she was certainly didn't like that. The centaur Nessus observed the two and offered to carry Deianira on his back. Heracles agreed and started swimming. Nessus then grabbed Deianira and galloped away, intending to rape her. Upon reaching the other side of the river, Heracles quickly shot at the centaur and hit Nessus in the heart. As Heracles swam back to retrieve his wife, the dying centaur whispered to Deianira a secret: take some of Nessus’s blood and semen and keep it in case it appeared Heracles stopped loving her. Anoint the mixture on Heracles’s shirt and no rival would ever possess him. Deianira, knowing Heracles was, after all, a typical male, quickly drained the mixture in a small oil jar and rejoined her husband.
 
In Trachis Heracles was again confronted with King Eurytus of Oechalia. An oracle had told Heracles that war with the king would be his last great adventure and a serene life would follow. Anxious, Heracles attacked Oechalia and killled everyone except the princess Iole, whom he was previously promised as a wife. He sent the girl to Deianira, who was naturally suspicious of Heracles’s intentions. He had asked Deianira for a fresh wardrobe to be sent for him, and, remembering Nessus’s secret, anointed his shirt with the centaur’s mixture.
 
The mixture, however, had been tainted with Heracles’s arrow, which had been dipped in the hydra’s venomous blood and was therefore a lethal poison. As soon as Heracles dressed he was overwhelmed with flames. He called upon his son Hyllus and his favorite Iolaus; Hyllus promised to marry Iole and Iolaus was determined to initiate the worship of his uncle. The distraught Deianira, realizing what she had done, hung herself.
 
Zeus blasted the funeral pyre and reclaimed his son for Olympus. Heracles, now an immortal, was reconciled with Hera and given her daughter Hebe, goddess of youth, as a wife. His name, “glory of Hera”, reconstituted his relationship with her.
 
The Hellenic Times
 

The Twelve Labors of Hercules

Hercules performed twelve labors given to him by King Eurystheus of Tiryns. For twelve years, he traveled all over to complete these incredible tasks. NOTE: Because different ancient poets gave their own accounts of Hercules's labors, some details may vary.

One: Kill the Nemean Lion

This monster of a lion had a hide was so tough that no arrow could pierce it. Hercules stunned the beast with his olive-wood club and then strangled it with his bare hands. It is said that he skinned the lion, using the lion's sharp claws, and ever after wore its hide.

Two: Kill the Lernean Hydra

The evil, snakelike Hydra had nine heads. If one got hurt, two would grow in its place. But Hercules quickly sliced off the heads, while his charioteer, Iolaus, sealed the wounds with a torch. Hercules made his arrows poisonous by dipping them in the Hydra's blood.

Three: Capture the Cerynian Hind

The goddess Artemis loved and protected this stubborn little deer, which had gold horns. Hercules found it a challenge to capture the delicate hind without hurting it (and making Artemis angry). After following the hind for an entire year, he safely carried it away.

Four: Capture the Erymanthian Boar

The people of Mount Erymanthus lived in fear of this deadly animal. Hercules chased the wild boar up the mountain and into a snowdrift. He then took it in a net and brought it to King Eurystheus, who was so frightened of the beast that he hid in a huge bronze jar.

Five: Clean the Augean Stables

Thousands of cows lived in these stables belonging to King Augeas. They had not been cleaned in 30 years, but Hercules was told to clean them completely in a single day. To do so he made two rivers bend so that they flowed into the stables, sweeping out the filth.

Six: Kill the Stymphalian Birds

These murderous birds lived around Lake Stymphalos. Their claws and beaks were sharp as metal and their feathers flew like darts. Hercules scared them out of their nests with a rattle and then killed them with the poison arrows he had made from the Hydra's blood.

Seven: Capture the Cretan Bull

This savage bull, kept by King Minos of Crete, was said to be insane and breathe fire. Hercules wrestled the mad beast to the ground and brought it back to King Eurystheus. Unfortunately, the king set it free, and it roamed Greece, causing terror wherever it went.

Eight: Capture the Horses of Diomedes

King Diomedes, leader of the Bistones, fed his bloodthirsty horses on human flesh. Hercules and his men fought and killed King Diomedes and fed the king to his horses. This made the horses tame, so that Hercules was able to lead them to King Eurystheus.

Nine: Take the Girdle of the Amazon Queen Hippolyte

Hercules went to the land of the Amazons, where the queen welcomed him and agreed to give him her girdle for Eurystheus's daughter. But Hera spread the rumor that Hercules came as an enemy. In the end he had to conquer the Amazons and steal the golden belt.

Ten: Capture the Cattle of Geryon

Geryon, a winged monster with three human bodies, had a herd of beautiful red cattle. He guarded his prized herd with the help of a giant and a vicious two-headed dog. Hercules killed Geryon, the giant, and the dog and brought the cattle to King Eurystheus.

Eleven: Take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides

The Hesperides were nymphs. In their garden grew golden apples protected by Ladon, a dragon with a hundred heads. Hercules struck a bargain with Atlas, who held up the earth. Hercules shouldered the earth while Atlas, the nymphs' father, fetched the apples.

Twelve: Capture Cerberus

Hercules was ordered to capture Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of the underworld, without using weapons. Hercules wrestled down the dog's wild heads, and it agreed to go with him to King Eurystheus. Cerberus was soon returned unharmed to the underworld.
ANALYSIS OF MYTHS.

"I shall indeed interpret all that I can, but I cannot interpret all that I should like."--Grimm.

In attempting an analysis of the foregoing myths, and an explanation of their origin, it is impossible, in a work
of this kind, to do more than give a very superficial idea of the scientific theories of various eminent mythologists, who, on this subject, like doctors, are sure to disagree.
These myths, comprising "the entire intellectual stock of the age to which they belonged," existed as "floating talk among the people" long ere they passed into the literature of the nation; and while to us mythology is merely "an affair of historical or antiquarian study, we must remember that the interpretation of myths was once a thing full of vital interest to men whose moral and religious beliefs were deeply concerned." Received at first with implicit faith, these myths became a stumbling block as civilization advanced. Cultured man recoiled from much of the grossness which had appeared quite natural to his ancestors in a savage state, and made an attempt to find out their primitive meaning, or an explanation which would satisfy his purer taste.
With the latter object in view, the sages and writers of old interpreted all that seemed "silly and senseless" in mythology as physical allegories,--a system subsequently carried to extremes by many heathen philosophers
in the vain hope of evading Christian satire.
Learned men have also explained these selfsame myths as historical facts disguised as metaphors, or as moral allegories, which the choice of Hercules undoubtedly is. Euhemerus (316 B.C.) was the pioneer of the former theory, and Bacon an exponent of the latter. Euhemerus' method was exaggerated by his disciples, who declared Zeus was merely a king of Crete; his war with the giants, an attempt to repress a sedition; Danae's shower of gold, the money with which her guards were bribed; Prometheus, a maker of clay images, "whence it was hyperbolically said he created man out of clay;" and Atlas, an astronomer, who was therefore spoken of as supporting the weight of the heavens. This mode of interpretation was carried to such an extreme that it became ridiculous, and the inevitable reaction took place. In the course of time, however, the germ of truth it contained was again brought to light; and very few persons now refuse to believe that some of the heroic myths have some slight historical basis, the "silly and senseless" element being classed as accretions similar to the fabulous tales attached to the indubitably historical name of Charlemagne. During the seventeenth century, some philosophers, incited by "the resemblance between biblical narrative and ancient myths, came to the conclusion that the Bible contained a pure and the myths a distorted form of an original
revelation." But within the past century new theories have gradually gained ground: for the philologists have attempted to prove that the myths arose from a "disease of language;" while the anthropologists, basing their theory on comparative mythology, declare "it is man, it is human thought and human language combined,
which naturally and necessarily produced the strange conglomerate of ancient fable."

As these two last-named schools have either successfully confuted or incorporated the theories of all their predecessors, a brief outline of their respective beliefs will not be out of place. While philology compares only the "myths of races which speak languages of the same family" (as will shortly be demonstrated), anthropology resorts to all folklore, and seeks for the origin of myths, not in language, which it considers only
as a subordinate cause, but in the "condition of thought through which all races have passed."
The anthropologists, or comparative mythologists, do not deny that during the moderate allowance of two hundred and fifty thousand years, which they allot to the human race on earth, the myths may have spread from a single center, and either by migration, or by slave or wife stealing, or by other natural or accidental methods, may have "wandered all around the globe;" but they principally base their arguments on the fact that just as flint arrowheads are found in all parts of the world, differing but slightly in form and manufacture, so the myths of all nations "resemble each other, because they were formed to meet the same needs, out of the same materials."
They argue that this similarity exists, "not because the people came from the same stock" (which is the philologist's view), "but because they passed through the same savage intellectual condition." By countless
examples taken from the folklore of all parts of the earth, they prove that the savage considers himself akin to beasts (generally to the one whose image is used as a tribal or family badge or totem), and "regards even plants, inanimate objects, and the most abstract phenomena, as persons with human parts and passions." To the savage, "sun, moon, and stars are persons, but savage persons;" and, as he believes "many of his own tribe fellows to have the power of assuming the form of animals," he concedes the same privilege and power to sun, moon, and stars, etc. This school further prove that all pre-Christian religions have idols representing beasts, that all mythologies represent the gods as fond of appearing in animal forms, and declare, that, although the Greeks were a thoroughly civilized people, we can still find in their mythology and religion "abundant survivals of savage manners and savage myths." They claim, that, during the myth-making age, the ancestors of the Greeks were about on an intellectual level with the present Australian Bushmen, and that "everything in civilized mythologies which we regard as irrational, seems only part of the accepted and rational order of
things to the contemporary savages, and in the past seemed equally rational and natural to savages concerning whom we have historical information." Of course it is difficult, not to say impossible, for civilized man to put himself in the savage's place, and regard things from his point of view. The nearest approach to primitive intelligence which comes under our immediate observation is the working of the minds of small children, who, before they can talk intelligibly, whip the table or chair against which they have bumped their heads, and later on delight in weaving the most extraordinary tales. A little four-year-old seized a book and began to "read a story;" that is to say, to improvise a very improbable and highly colored tale of a pony. Forced to pause from lack of breath, she resumed the thread of her narrative with the words, "Now, this dog;" and, when it was suggested that the story was about a pony, she emphatically replied, "Well, this pony was a dog," and
continued. Now, either because she perceived that the transformation had attracted attention, or to satisfy the childish inborn taste for the marvelous, in the course of the next few minutes the pony underwent as many transformations as Proteus, all of which apparently seemed perfectly natural to her. The anthropologists explain the tales of the various transformations of Jupiter and his animal progeny "as in many cases survivals of the totemistic belief in descent from beasts," while the mythologists explain them as "allegories of the fruitful union of heaven and earth, of rain and grain." The former school also declare that the myth of Cupid and Psyche, which has its parallel in stories found in all parts of the world, was invented to explain curious marriage customs (for in some countries it is unlawful for the husband to see his wife's face until after she has given birth to her first child, and in others a wife may not speak her husband's name): the latter school interpret the same myth as a beautiful allegory of the soul and the union of faith and love.

The philologists' interpretation of myths is not only the most accredited at the present time, but also the most poetical. We therefore give a brief synopsis of their theory, together with an analysis, from their point of view, of the principal myths told at length in the course of this work. According to this school, "myths are the result of a disease of language, as the pearl is the result of a disease of the oyster;" the key to all mythologies lies in language; and the original names of the gods, "ascertained by comparative philology, will be found, as a rule,
to denote elemental or physical phenomena," that is, phenomena of the sunshine, the clouds, rain, winds, fire, etc.
To make their process of reasoning plain, it should be explained, that as French, Spanish, and Italian are derived from the Latin, even so Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit have a common source in a much older language;
that, even if Latin were entirely lost, the similarity of the word "bridge," for instance (pons in Latin), in French (pont), in Spanish (puente), and in Italian (ponte), would justify the conclusion that these terms had
their origin in a common language, and that the people who spoke it were familiar with bridges, which they evidently called by some name phonetically the same.
Further to prove their position, they demonstrate the similarity of the most common words in all the languages of the same family, showing (as is the case with the word "father" in the accompanying table) that they undergo but few changes in sixteen different languages.
Sanskrit, pitri. Zend, paitar. Persian, pader. Erse, athair. Italian, padre. Spanish, padre. French, père. Saxon,
fæder. Latin, pater. Greek, pronounced pätair. Gothic, vatar. German, vater. Dutch, fader. Danish, fader. Swedish, fader. English, father.
The most learned of all these philologists argues that during the first or Rhematic period, there existed a tribe in Central Asia which spoke a monosyllabic language, in which lay the germs of the Turanian, Aryan, and Semitic forms of speech. This Rhematic period was followed by the Nomadic or Agglutinative age, when, little by little, the languages "received once for all that peculiar impress of their formative system which we still find in all the dialects and national idioms comprised under the name of Aryan or Semitic;" that is to say,
in the Hindoo, Persian, Greek, Roman, Celt, Slav, and Teutonic languages, and in some three thousand kindred dialects.
After the Agglutinative period, and previous to the National era and "the appearance of the first traces of literature," he places "a period represented everywhere by the same characteristic features, called the
Mythological or Mythopoeic age."
It was during this period that the main part of the vast fund of mythic lore is supposed to have crystallized; for primitive man, knowing nothing whatever of physical laws, cause and effect, and the "necessary regularity of things," yet seeking an explanation of the natural phenomena, described them in the only way possible to him,
and attributed to all inanimate objects his own sentiments and passions, fancying them influenced by the same things, in the same way. This tendency to personify or animate everything is universal among savages, who are nothing but men in the primitive state; and "in early philosophy throughout the world, the sun, moon, and stars are alive, and, as it were, human in their nature." "Poetry has so far kept alive in our minds the old animative theory of nature, that it is no great effort in us to fancy the waterspout a huge giant or a sea monster, and to depict, in what we call appropriate metaphor, its march across the field of ocean."
As the names of the Greek gods and heroes have in a great measure been found to correspond with the Sanskrit names of physical things, we have been able to read some of the first thoughts of primitive man; and
"the obvious meaning" of many words "did much to preserve vestiges of plain sense in classic legend, in spite of all the efforts of the commentators."
According to the philologists, therefore, these thoughts had already assumed a definite form in the remote epoch when many nations, now scattered over the face of the earth, occupied the same country, spoke the same language, and formed but one people. Of course, "as long as such beings as Heaven or Sun are consciously talked of in mythic language, the meaning of their legends is open to no question, and the action ascribed to them will as a rule be natural and appropriate;" but with the gradual diffusion of this one people to various parts of the earth, the original meaning of these words was entirely lost, and they came to be looked upon eventually simply as the names of deities or heroes--very much in the way that the word "good-by" has long survived its original form as a conscious prayer, "God be with you!" and the word "ostracism" has lost all connection with an oyster shell.
The primitive meaning of a myth died away with the original meaning of a word; and it is because "the Greek had forgotten that Zeus (Jupiter) meant 'the bright sky,' that he could make him king" over a company of
manlike deities on Olympus.
We can best explain how the many anomalies occur, and how the myths got so tangled up together that now it is almost impossible to disentangle them and trace them back to their original meanings, by comparing their descent through the ages to the course of a snowball, which, rolling down a mountain side, gathers to itself snow, earth, rocks, etc., until, in the vast agglomeration of kindred and foreign substances, the original nucleus is entirely lost to sight.
The fact that there are many different myths to explain the same phenomenon can readily be accounted for by the old saying, "circumstances alter cases." Thus the heat of the sun, for example, so beneficial at certain times, may prove baleful and injurious at others.
The philologists, who believe that all myths (except the imitative myths, of which the tale of Berenice is a fair example) were originally nature myths, have divided them into a few large classes, which include the myths of the sky, the sun, dawn, daylight, night, moon, earth, sea, clouds, fire, wind, and finally those of the underworld and of the demons of drought and darkness.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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