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“Hercules” by John Singer Sargent

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John Singer Sargent, Hercules, 1921. Oil on canvas, 348 × 317.5 cm. © MFA with permission by fair use.

Let us quote Apollodorus on Heracles vs. Hydra:

As a second labour he ordered him to kill the Lernaean hydra. That creature, bred in the swamp of Lerna, used to go forth into the plain and ravage both the cattle and the country. Now the hydra had a huge body, with nine heads, eight mortal, but the middle one immortal. So mounting a chariot driven by Iolaus, he came to Lerna, and having halted his horses, he discovered the hydra on a hill beside the springs of the Amymone, where was its den. By pelting it with fiery shafts he forced it to come out, and in the act of doing so he seized and held it fast. But the hydra wound itself about one of his feet and clung to him. Nor could he effect anything by smashing its heads with his club, for as fast as one head was smashed there grew up two. A huge crab also came to the help of the hydra by biting his foot. So he killed it, and in his turn called for help on Iolaus who, by setting fire to a piece of the neighboring wood and burning the roots of the heads with the brands, prevented them from sprouting. Having thus got the better of the sprouting heads, he chopped off the immortal head, and buried it, and put a heavy rock on it, beside the road that leads through Lerna to Elaeus. But the body of the hydra he slit up and dipped his arrows in the gall. However, Eurystheus said that this labour should not be reckoned among the ten because he had not got the better of the hydra by himself, but with the help of Iolaus.

  • Apollodorus, “Apollodorus, The Library.” London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1921.
    [Bibtex]
    @InBook{Apollod.2.5.2,
      author    = {Apollodorus},
      title     = {Apollodorus, The Library},
      year      = {1921},
      publisher = {London, William Heinemann Ltd.},
      chapter   = {2.5.2},
      url       = {http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Apollod.+2.5.2&fromdoc=Perseus%253Atext%253A1999.01.0022},
      keywords  = {mars,heracles},
      timestamp = {2016-07-28},
    }

Ev Cochrane published on his website Maverick Science several chapters from his book Martian Metamorphoses discussing the death of Heracles by the hydra’s poison. Surely it’s interesting to note the similarity of many mars-like heroes.

  • E. Cochrane, “Martian Metamorphoses: The Planet Mars in Ancient Myth and Religion.” Aeon Press, 1997, vol. 3.
    [Bibtex]
    @InBook{Cochrane1997TheDeathOfHeracles,
      chapter =      {The Death of Heracles},
      title =        {Martian Metamorphoses: The Planet Mars in Ancient Myth and Religion},
      publisher =    {Aeon Press},
      year =         {1997},
      author =       {Cochrane, Ev},
      volume =       {3},
      series =       {Maverick Science},
      month =        {ene},
      author_sort =  {Cochrane, Ev},
      calibreid =    {233},
      comment =      {Free PDF Download ISBN-10: 0965622908 ISBN-13: 978-0965622905},
      cover =        {/home/trismegisto/Calibre Library/Ev Cochrane/The Martian Metamorphoses\_ The Death of Heracles (233)/cover.jpg},
      file =         {Cochrane1997TheDeathOfHeracles.pdf:media/trismegisto/Vitamin/Documents/Bibliography/Cochrane1997TheDeathOfHeracles.pdf:PDF},
      formats =      {pdf},
      howpublished = {Maverick Science website},
      library_name = {Calibre Library},
      size =         {248279 octets},
      tags =         {electric universe, Mythology, Mars},
      timestamp =    {2016-02-14},
      title_sort =   {Martian Metamorphoses: The Death of Heracles, The},
      url =          {http://maverickscience.com/mars.htm},
      uuid =         {e575c99c-eef5-44c5-b343-8d342fd062d4}
    }
  • E. Cochrane, “Martian Metamorphoses: The Planet Mars in Ancient Myth and Religion.” Aeon Press, 1997, vol. 4.
    [Bibtex]
    @InBook{Cochrane1997SamsonRevealed,
      chapter =      {Samson Revealed},
      title =        {Martian Metamorphoses: The Planet Mars in Ancient Myth and Religion},
      publisher =    {Aeon Press},
      year =         {1997},
      author =       {Ev Cochrane},
      volume =       {4},
      series =       {Maverick Science},
      month =        {ene},
      author_sort =  {Cochrane, Ev},
      calibreid =    {239},
      comment =      {Free PDF Download ISBN-10: 0965622908 ISBN-13: 978-0965622905},
      cover =        {/home/trismegisto/Calibre Library/Ev Cochrane/The Martian Metamorphoses\_ Samson Revealed (239)/cover.jpg},
      file =         {Cochrane1997SamsonRevealed.pdf:Cochrane1997SamsonRevealed.pdf:PDF},
      formats =      {pdf},
      library_name = {Calibre Library},
      review =       {A subject barely touched upon up to now is the mythology of Mars. What do ancient traditions the world over remember about the role of the planet Mars? Unbelievable as it may sound, stories drawn from all corners of the world tell a remarkable similar picture of the identity of Mars.
    The author shows in an unequivocal way, though in a lucid and entertaining style, how the mythology of Mars (as well as some other planets) is the key to a new understanding of the beginning of our civilization and the history of the earth.
    Well known figures such as Hercules, Samson, Mars, Apollo and Hercules are shown to represent Mars. Their lives are closely mirrored in the lives of Gilgamesh (ancient Iraq), Horus (ancient Egypt), Tezcatlipoca (Mexico), Mura (Amazonia), Murukan and Indra (India), Maui (New Zealand) and numerous others. These heroes, all dragon-slayers and furious warriors, were at the same time the grounders of civilisation, according to our own forebears.
    This book has been an enormous eye-opener for me and will be for thousands of others. Carefully documented at every page, it invites you to start your own investigation and triggers the imagination. The time may not be ripe, but nothing withholds from getting involved in a better understanding of the true nature of our religion and our history.},
      size =         {219648 octets},
      tags =         {electric universe, Mythology, Mars},
      timestamp =    {2016-02-14},
      title_sort =   {Martian Metamorphoses: Samson Revealed, The},
      url =          {http://maverickscience.com/mars.htm},
      uuid =         {2946866d-707f-459c-8318-41ae72ef290f}
    }

Here’s another Hercules vs. Hydra

Malibu 83.AE.346, Caeretan hydria, c. 525 B.C. Main panel: Hercules slaying the Lernean hydra Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California

Malibu 83.AE.346, Caeretan hydria, c. 525 B.C.
Main panel: Hercules slaying the Lernean hydra
Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

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Article Categories:
1 CE to Present · Aegean · Greece · Painting

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