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Hera’s Wrath
Musings on the Figure of Herakles
"First he cleared the grove of Zeus of a lion, and put its skin upon his back, hiding his yellow hair in its fearful tawny gaping jaws."
—Euripides, Herakles

‘James, I have heard you mention a few times that Heracles means "Hera's honor" and that his name indicates that his existence is an affront to Hera's honor. But Zeus had many bastards and was constantly in trouble for it. When I hear "Hera's honor" I think about the glory that Heracles earned in completing the labors that Hera demanded from him as punishment for the murders that she caused him to commit. Heracles ascended to Olympus as a result of his great heroism which was attributable to Hera's wrath. Is this a reasonable interpretation?’
-Lynn

Lynn, thank you for reminding me that I should not finish writing Beasts of Aryas without a look at the many mythic beasts that confronted Herakles.
First, the ancient sources agree that Hera hated Herakles as one of her husband’s bastards sired on mortal women and tried to kill him in his infancy. It was common for slave mistresses to try and kill the bastard sons of the slave master sired on a slave girl, throughout history and up until the early 1800s in America. The hatred of Hera for Herakles is echoed in the hatred if Ishtar for Gilgamesh. I would suggest that the many mortal or semi-divine heroes being hated by the various goddesses is like the hatred of the slave mistress for the slave-girl’s bastard child, an echo of the actual familial friction among the conquering households of the Aryans among the mostly female subjects of their conquest. Jacob, who wrestled with an angel, the patriarch who God named Israel, had two wives and two slave girls and this caused much friction in his household. There is certainly also a great deal in the myths of Heracles that pre-dates Aryan culture and is plainly Paleolithic in origin, with many similarities to African and Amerindian animism.
“Herakles married Megara, the daughter of a king. They became the parents of several children. Hera caused Herakles to go mad and to kill his family. The priestess of Delphi ordered Herakles to serve his cousin King Eurystheus of Tiryns as a penance for this crime. Eurystheus would present a series of tasks to Herakles. These tasks were said to have been designed by Hera herself in the hope that they would kill Herakles.”
Megara means Chambers, and was also the name of a key city on the Isthmus near Corinth. There remains a statue of Herakles boxing with a hammer-fist found there. Eurystheus can be translated as Fair-strong-lord, surely an irony as he was a coward who hid in a bronze jar when Herakles brought dangerous zoo animals to him. Hera sounds so much like the historical Olympius, mother of Alexander, that I am tempted to place her manipulation of the laws of marriage as another cautionary metaphor for the perils of intermarrying with the conquered.
Herakles is depicted as being blond of hair as is Jason, singling him out as an Aryan conqueror. Herakles was so lionized by Alexander and especially the later Roman emperors, perhaps because he represented deliverance from the machinations of Mother Civilization and the favor of Father Action, with Zeus [Thunder-chief] a most active deity, with a prominent cult of Deliverance dedicated to him. The Twelve labors match the number of major Olympian deities and the number of months in the year. The labors were, in their most common order:
-1. Nemean Lion
Slaying a lion is the most basic warrior cult activity throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, and was an activity historically reserved for kings and heroes. Both Samson and Beniah of in the Bible slew lions.
-2. Lernean Hydra
I read the hydra as representative of the pervasive old agrarian snake cult activity engaged in by the legacy priestesses, including Alexander’s mother.
-3. Cerynitian Hind
The Hind [dear] of Artemis, goddess of the hunt might be the eldest Paleolithic legacy in this list, as the meat hunt focuses on slaying females, not males.
-4. Erymanthian Boar
Boar hunting remained the sport of leading men in Europe after the Lion had been eradicated. The boar terrifies the sissy king of Tiryns, Eurystheus, a killer of men and of Adonis when the boar was possessed by Apollo. I suggest this tale reflects the regard for the bravery of the boar among kings. Note that boar-tusk helmets were worn by men of the Age of Heroes, from the Iliad to Beowulf.
-5. Augean Stables
When Herakles redirects a river to sweep the stables clean he is using the most primitive and labor intensive large scale engineering feat employed in the taking of cities, which is how the Mongols would take Bagdad in the 1200s A.D. The site of these stables would be the site where the Olympic Games would be held, with Herakles as one of the legendary founders.
-6. Stymphalian Birds
The domestic viciousness of some breeds of birds among their own in establishing pecking-orders and their equation with the bird girls which led men to the death in their swamps and Herakles killing these harpies provides another conqueror-assimilation metaphor. As well, these Stymphalian Birds were sacred to Ares [War] and to Artemis of the hunt and their conquest with the aid of Athena [Thought-lady] might be regarded as a metaphor for the technology of war which gave the conquerors their upper hand.
-7. Cretan Bull
The bull of Minos, its king coming from the Middle East, might well be an echo of Gilgamesh and Enkidu battling the Bull of Heaven. The archeology does place Crete as the center of a bull cult, possibly related to Canaanite Baal, implying child sacrifice along with the legend of Theseus in the labyrinth of Minos. Labyrinth means “House-of-the-double-axe” a weapon used for bull sacrifice. Also, one of the prehistoric chiefs named Herakles was said to have come from Crete.
-8. Mares of Diomedes
The savage, man-eating horses of the king of Thrace, who was a son of Ares [therefore a war-hawk] were turned on their owner by Herakles, and were said to provide the fighting stock of the Macedonian horses such as Alexander’s Bucephalus. In this adventure into Thrace, reflecting the dilemma of Aryans having conquered the shores of the Middle Sea being forever menaced by their more savage cousins for the horse-breeding hinterlands, Herakles also wrestles Death and wins, bringing the deceased queen Alcestis back to life.
-9. Girdle of Hippolyta
The Amazonian queen was of course defeated by and fell in love with Herakles and her and many of her warrior women, also daughters of Ares, were slain. The amazons represent the Scythians most likely, who being nomads, would have women with exceptional latitude, and in the age of heroes, only women would be small enough to ride horses, where the men must be towed in chariots. [0]
-10. Cattle of Geryon
It was said that Herakles defeated the Sun and the Ocean to find Geryon on his island in the Atlantic [Britain perhaps] where he slew the giant’s three-headed dog and also a servant and sailed away with the cattle. I would suggest this as a memory of the migrations of the Sea Peoples or of The Flood.
-11. Apples of the Hesperides
In search of three of the golden apples, Herakles freed Prometheus in the Caucuses Mountains and duped Atlas in the Atlas Mountains. I take this tale as representative of the range of conquest of Herakles’ people and their Aryan cousins. Echoes of Eden also sound in this tale, with a dragon and nymphs guarding the garden of the goddess from man’s seeking hand.
-12. Kerberos
The three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld with each head perceiving either the past, present or future, where Herakles once again defeated Death and dragged the hell-hound out into the world, I suspect, might represent his people’s deep mythology concerning their hounds and their resulting dominance in hunting and war. Herakles does take part in the mysteries of Eleusis, is guided by Hermes, Escort of Souls, ferried by Charon across the River Styx, meets Medusa [representing the matriarchal snake cults] without harm and negotiates with Hades himself. I interpret Herakles roughly as an accretion of Aryan aspirations and actions and miracles to defeat doom and death assigned to this character of prehistoric composition subduing the barbarous and outwitting the wicked powers in a world of fallen titans—a good myth for our day.

Notes
-0. By the Wine-Dark Sea has an extensive interpretation of the amazons:
Quotes have been sourced from the following article.
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