Heracles, The New Jesus Essay

1550 words - 7 pages

Most mythologies contain borrowed aspects from older accounts of the same stories. Myths serve to answer the questions mankind was and is unable to answer simply. Because of the yearning for knowledge mankind has always held, those who were looked towards for answers often had similar explanations based on what they were once told. This sharing of information has given historians an array of mythologies from across the world that can be placed on a semi-clear time line as they adapted and parts changed to better suit a single cultures demands. These oral traditions, later to be written, also found their way onto much art through the ages that now are often open to interpretation since the artists are long passed. The vase's image and text make it clear the setting of the depiction. The vase's imagery is based in The Garden of The Hesperides, at the tree that bears golden apples. Surrounding the tree are Atlas's daughters, the Hesperides, who are picking the forbidden fruit owned by Hera. The serpent in the tree is Ladon, sent by Hera to protect it's fruits from the girls and any other interested thieves. This entire scene is lightly described in the story of Heracles’s Eleventh Labor as told by Apollodorus from 2nd century BCE.
The Eleventh Labor is a traditional Greek myth that can be told in a variety of ways. In Apollodorus' version, Heracles is shown as a trickster figure as well as the hero. He is portrayed as intelligent as well as strong in his diverse trials to get the apples from the Garden. First he must discover where the garden is located which he does by entrapping the Old Man of the Sea, Nereus who is a shape shifter and not easily restrained. Following Nereus' directions, Heracles finds himself wrestling with Antaeus who only gains strength when Heracles attempts to vanquish him by wrestling him into the ground. The most clear demonstration of Heracles' trickster nature comes from his interactions with Atlas. Heracles convinces Atlas into retrieving the apples for him and then tricks him back into holding up the world once more. Throughout the myth parallels are drawn to the Judea-Christian Genesis story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The similarities between the two myths lead to the conclusion that Heracles Eleventh Labor along with the second portion of Genesis are not typical creation myths. The myth itself is not so much a creation myth as it serves a greater purpose than to tell how the world and man came to exist. It's purpose is to demonstrate being and the relationship man has with mortality and his surroundings.
Genesis and The Eleventh Labor both feature some very major aspects. Both involve the male intelligent hero, innocent naïve female(s), and a serpent that complicates matters and dwells in the forbidden apple tree. The most clear comparison comes from the garden itself. Genesis places civilization to the east of the Garden of Eden, thus placing the garden itself in the west. The Garden of Hesperides is...

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