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|HERAKLES IN THE ATLANTIC WORLD
Herakles in Homeros
There are numerous legends and myths circulating about Herakles known to us from ancient tragedies and mythological works. Obviously, the oldest source is Homeros itself. For the traditional stories about his twelve works and other deeds, I refer to the summary in Wikipedia.1 For this research, I will limit myself to the passages in the Iliad and Odyssey in which Herakles is mentioned.
-In book 11,266, Alkmene and Megara are mentioned when Odysseus sees the ghosts of famous women passing by. Alkmene, although married to Amfitruon, became pregnant with Zeus, who fell in love of her. For, disguised as general Amfitruon, Zeus had intercourse with Alkmene, from which Herakles was born. He was an important hero and god for the Low Countries, Spain and Fenicia, where he was known as Melkart.
Megara was married to Herakles, who in 11,270 is incidentally called the son of Amfitruon, his stepfather! Megara was later killed by Herakles in a fit of bewilderment together with her children.
-In Il.19.90 ff Homeros tells how Zeus was deceived by Hera when Alkmene was about to give birth to her and his son. Zeus boasted in the meeting of the gods that the man who was to be born that day was his son and would rule over all the surrounding nations. When Hera had led her husband to swear that the man who was to be born that day would really become the ruler of all the surrounding peoples, she ran away to Achaian Argos, where she met the wife of Sthenelos, son of Perseus - another son of Zeus - who was pregnant and induced premature labour, resulting in the birth of Eurustheus, a weak person to whom Herakles was now subordinate. Achaian Argos probably refers to the realm of Mukenai (Mycenae) in France (now the sity of Troyes), since Eurustheus is often referred to as the king of Mukenai (see Introduction Agamemnon and map below).
|From Wilkens p.165: Seven cities for Achilleus
-"Although I was the son of Kronos' son Zeus, I still
suffered misery beyond all measure. I was employed by a man
far inferior to me, who set me difficult tasks.
He even sent me here to get the Hound of Hades! Yes, he couldn't
think of a more difficult job than that.
I then carried off the creature and led him out of Hades!
Hermes and owl-eyed Athena were my guides." (11,619 ff.)
Homeros mentions only one work by Herakles, namely the last work: retrieving the Hound of Hell. In Il.8,360, Athena complains to Hera about the ingratitude of Zeus, while she had so often been sent out by him to save Herakles from difficult situations. Herakles would never have escaped the steep streams of the Stux without her help when he had to retrieve the hated Hound of Hades from the Erebos.
-In addition to the twelve works, Herakles performed other exploits, of which the rescue of Hesione from the clutches of the sea monster is touched on in this fragment (XX,144):
After these words, the dark-haired god led them
to the dyke of divine Herakles, that had been thrown to both sides and
was built up high by Pallas Athena with the help of Trojans,
in order for him to escape that monster
when it would chase him from yonder beach of the sea to the plain.
The sea monster had been sent by Poseidon because her father, Laomedon of Troy, didn't pay the fee for the wall he had built for him. Striking is the use of the word teichos (-dyke), which is traditionally translated with "wall", although the walls of Troy had long before Herakles been built by Poseidon and Apollo. Homeros points to the war dykes in the landscape between Gog Magog and the Wash, see Introduction Troy and Wilkens p.46. The "sea monster" (whale, shark, seal?) also points to a location on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Having failed to receive the horses promised by Hesione's father Laomedon, Herakles returned with only six ships and a small number of men to destroy Troy and depopulate the streets (Il. 5,640). The number six (sechs, sex), as always, indicates a "Saxon" background to the story, from which we can conclude that Herakles and his ships came to England from the north coast of France, the litus saxonicum.2
When Herakles left Troy by sea after its devastation, Hera raided her nemesis with a northerly storm, the Boreas, after ordering Hypnos (Sleep) to put Zeus to sleep (Il.14,243 and 15,25-30). By this storm, Herakles went off course and ended up in Koös far from his family and friends. According to Wilkens (p.325) Koös has to be found near Texel and might be the current De Kooy near Den Helder. Homeros called Koös "beautifully situated", which is valid for Den Helder because it controls access from the North Sea to the Wadden Sea and is still the Dutch Marine fleet base. De Koog on Texel may be a reminder of this name too. In any case, Herakles may indeed have been driven to the coast of the Netherlands by a strong northwest wind, often combined with a cold front. However, Zeus saved Herakles and brought him back to Argos (France, Spain or Portugal).
-Homer also mentions Herakles, the savage, injuring Hera on her right breast and also injuring Hades 'in the midst of the dead in Pulos' (Il.5,392). This Pulos" does not indicate Nestor's Pulos in the south of Spain, but probably "the Gate of the Dead" (pulé = gate), because he did so in his attempt to retrieve the Hellhound from the Hades (=Walcheren).
However, Wilkens sees in this Pulos the area between the major rivers in the Netherlands, of which the name "Peel" is still a reminiscence. Agamemnon wanted to give this seven-city area to Achilleus as a gift to persuade him to rejoin the fray. All cities are close to the sea and on the borders of the sandy Pulos (Il. 9,153), see further Introduction Achilleus and map above.
Nestor's Pulos in Andalusia (Palos) also suffered from Herakles, for he destroyed that city and killed multitudes (Il.11,690 ff.), including all the sons of Neleus except Nestor. Nestor later took revenge on the Epeians, his neighbours who had helped Herakles, and defeated them at Thrioëssa (Triana, district of Seville, see map below and Introduction Pulos.)
-Finally, Herakles performs extensively in 11,601 ff, where he meets Odysseus.
Then I caught sight of mighty Herakles, I mean an
image of him, since he joys in feasting among the deathless
gods and lives with Hebe with her beautiful ankles,
she the daughter of Zeus Allmighty and golden-sandalled Hera.
Around him a clamour rose from the dead, flying up in
terror like wild birds while he, as dark as night,
his bow unsheathed and an arrow strung,
glared round fiercely as if about to shoot.
Terrifying hung on his chest a strap of gold,
a shoulder belt on which marvellous things were wrought
such as bears, wild boars and lions with glittering eyes,
battles and conflicts, murders and mayhem.
I hope that the craftsman who retained the design
of that belt will never make another one.
His 'eidolon' (-image) emerges from Hades's home. This is not his ghost, as Herakles as a god lives on forever with his new wife Hebe, but an image of him, see above. With 'as dark as night', Homer seems to describe the constellation Herakles ('dark night') with his bow and arrow and club at the ready.
De Grave (II 56) believes, however, that this word eidolon refers to an artificial blend of light and dark that creates the image of Herakles, a kind of son et lumière spectacle. Indeed, only Herakles emerges as an eidolon, an image, since his essence has been taken up to heaven, while all others are only skiai (-shadows, ghosts). De Grave has developed the attractive theory that during Odysseus' stay on Walcheren an innocent shadow play with numerous figurantes would be performed in the dark, which makes a great impression on Odysseus and his men, but is primarily intended to imprint Kirke's dogmas regarding the immortality of the soul awaiting rebirth and the reward and punishment after death for behaviour on earth. The shadows of the underworld are therefore extras who squeak loudly between the graves of the great cemetery, the Erebos, while Herakles himself is an eidolon, a light projection.
The strap around his chest shows scenes and animals that can be the cause of violent death, which brings Odysseus to express the wish that this may remain a one-off art product. The boar and the lion are parts of his twelve works, but the bears indicate that we are in northern regions near Boreas, where polar bears and other bears were abundant. The massacres, murders and battles show the other, dark side of Herakles, as he raged against gods and cities (Troy, Pulos, supra). When Herakles re-enters the cave of Hades (11,627), it means the end of the initiation ritual. The figurantes once again come up screaming and yelling to frighten Odysseus and his mates and to force them to leave. See also Introduction Hades.
These are the passages in Homeros dealing with Herakles, which show that many of the Herakles legends known to us are of a later date or may have been described in other epic works that have now disappeared. Are these legends a collection of nice but disjointed stories or do they have a deeper meaning and coherence that is not recognized in current textbooks?
Herakles in the Atlantic setting
According to Wilkens (p.37), the underlying message of the myth of Herakles and his twelve works is the same as that of the entire Odyssey: 'it must be considered as the archetypal example of an initiation. Odysseus, like Heracles, has to fight terrible monsters, which of course, are not real beings but the monsters deep inside ourselves, the dark instincts in our subconscious which we must dominate if we want to become better, more 'god-like' humans. Like Heracles, Odysseus visits Hades, the Underworld, which suggests that he had a ritual contact with death in order to be symbolically "reborn" with a new personality."
Serooskerke, Coat of Arms
Since the Hades was situated in Zeeland, it follows that Herakles picked up the Hellhound from Zeeland. Traces of the monsters of the Hades, such as the three-headed Kerberos and Kampe, can still be found in Zeeland, since Kamperland (Land of Kampe, or Campe on older maps) is located on an adjacent island south of Schouwen. Kerberos, the best known guard of the Hades, would still be recognizable in the name of the village of Serooskerke (from Serberus-kerke via Sêrbrus, Sêrwrs) and the adjacent hamlet of Hondgem (-Houndvillage). To this day, the three dog heads appear on the coat of arms of Serooskerke (see image and map).
Map Zeeland with Campen and Serroskerke (Zeeroirtskerke), Van Deventer 1580
For the cemetery of the Hades, where Odysseus met Herakles, another name is often used, the Erebos (eg 10,528). The derivation is from Erbe, erve (=ground), from which the shadows rise. In Metz, in the Meuse basin, an inscription about Erebos has been found, which reads:
ANTONIUS MARTIAL PONTIFEX SACRORUM EREBI
('Antonius Martialis, sacrificial priest of Erebos'),
which shows that Erebos is a Gallo-Germanic name connected to the mysteries of the Helion and the Acheron.3
Furthermore, according to Tacitus (Germania 9 and 34), Herakles is worshipped as a god in Germania: 'More than all other gods, they worship Mercury and do not consider it a sin to sacrifice humans on certain holidays as part of the sacrifices they make to him. Hercules and Mars, in accordance with common, civilized custom, are satisfied with animal sacrifices'.
"Pillars of Herakles" stood on the Rhine and coast, possibly to be considered as lighthouses. According to Wilkens, the original Pillars of Hercules were those of the Strait of Calais.
Besides Zeeland, the area around Cadiz is also full of stories about Hercules. He had a huge temple
near Cadiz on the Petri Island, which has now disappeared underwater. There was a well, visible at low tide and bubbling up at high tide (PA306). This area is referred to by 13,408 ff, where the residence of Eumaios is mentioned: it is located near the Korakos Petra, the Raven Rock, which is etymologically related to Petri (channel and island) and the island of Carraca in the bay of Cadiz (PA 356), and also near the well Arethousa. On Blaeu's map, it figured as the Torre(s) de Hercules, as in the Christian era a fortress and a lighthouse were built here on the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules' (Wilkens p.140 and map).
Furthermore, Gibraltar is the place where traditionally the Pillars of Hercules" are situated and the south-westernmost point of the Iberian peninsula was called Promontorium Herculis (now Cape S. Vincent). The Fenician name for Hercules is Melkart or Maleos. Hence the same cape in Homeros is called Cape Maleia (PH 379). In 1,80 Homer mentions Cape Maleia when he tells that Odysseus was almost home and had only Cape Maleia yet to round. To reach Ithaka (Cadiz, Jerez) he, therefore, had to round Cape S. Vincent. According to Gideon, Herakles was revered as the chief god of Spain, where he was considered the founder of Seville and Badajoz and patron of Toledo (see the Badajoz coat of arms with the Pillars of Hercules).
Badajoz, coat of arms
An inscription has been found in Toledo with this text:
HERCULI PATRONO ENDOVAL.TOL.
(to Hercules the Patron, Enduval from Toledo4)
Herakles was the father of Galatus and Celtus, married Celtina, daughter of Bretanus, names referring to Celts, Gauls and Brittany, which again indicates the Gallic-Germanic origin of Herakles.5 The place-name Gerenia between Palos and Sevilla (now Gerena) may have been derived from the mythological giant Geryon with his three heads whom Herakles fought against, a history situated at the Baetis in Spain by all classical authors! (s. map in Introduction Pulos)
Andalucia with Palos, Moguer, Pilas, Tryana, Gerena
C. Connexion between Zeeland and Spain
The Herakles cult and associated legends have come along with the southbound emigrations from more northerly regions, for which Cailleux offers some more arguments (OC 106 ff.).
The name of the giant Geryon, with whom Herakles had to fight for his cows, has gier as etymology, which besides vulture" can also mean high tide". His mother is Kallirrhoë, which means lovely stream" and he has vacca's (-cows) that can walk backwards (back = ebb). He had three heads and a dog, which must refer to the three estuaries of the Scheldt, one of which is Honte (=Hound, dog). There was a place called Castra Herculis which, according to Ammianus Marcelinus, was restored by Emperor Julian. Moreover, in 1514, a statue of Hercules Magusanus, depicted with a dolphin and a trident, representing the river with its three estuaries, was found under the sand by Philip of Burgundy at West-Kapelle, an area now engulfed by the sea.
The battle between Herakles and Geryon, therefore, symbolizes the eternal battle between the river Scheldt and the often very dangerous spring tides of the ocean, which is won by Herakles (De Grave I p.261).
Herakles seems to be the symbol for the Scheldt and his later wife Hebe (= ebb) "with the beautiful ankles" for the tides at its mouth. Hebe's ankles symbolize the ankles of the river, that is, the mouth that rejuvenates and renews eternally, for Hebe represents eternal Youth. According to Cailleux, all legends surrounding Herakles' twelve works and other actions essentially describe the course of the Scheldt to the Honte, Middelburg and the North Sea (OC 106-113). Since his theory provides an interesting connection with the northern geography, I will elaborate on this theme.
Herakles as a symbol of the Scheldt
Herakles' mythographers have the following stories:
1. He was born in Thebes in Boiotia;
2. A thunderclap sounded at his birth;
3. As a baby, he crushed the two-headed snake that Hera had sent to him;
4. On his left arm, he carried a lion skin from the lion of Nemea; in his right hand, he had a club;
5. He fought against the Hydra of Lerna;
6. He fought against the Erumanthic boar;
7. He strangled the giant Antaios;
8. He wandered in Musia looking for his mate Hulas;
9. He descended to the underworld to retrieve Theseus;
10. He took the belt from the queen of the Amazons;
11. He fought against Acheloös because of Deïaneira;
12. He himself ascended the stake to be cremated alive;
13. After his death he was taken up to the Land of the Blessed and married the eternal young Hebe.
When we follow the Scheldt from its source, we come across the following geographical indications:
ad 1: The old name of the Scheldt is Tabuda, which flows through the land of the Batavi. Tabuda explains the name of his birthplace Thebes and Batavi (from: Badt-aue = Land of purifying baths) the Greek name of Boiotia.
Wilkens (p.124) does not identify Thebes with the Tabuda but with Dieppe, approx. 50 km from Rouen. Dieppe was the largest port in North West France until the foundation of Le Havre in the 16th century. Moreover, Homer states that Herakles was born in Egyptian" Thebes, identified as Dieppe on the Channel, so it is not surprising that the capes on both sides of the Strait of Dover were still known as the Pillars of Hercules in Roman times. Given the connection with Hercules (= Fenician Melkart), it is quite conceivable that Dieppe was a Fenician enclave in otherwise hostile Gaul territory (see also IntroductionThebes).
Both Atlantic authors, therefore, place the birth of Herakles in northwestern France, in Dieppe or near the Tabuda. Cailleux sees a connection between the so-called Ambachten" in Batavian territory (see old maps of Zeeland) and the Delfian Amfiktuons of ancient Greece, a legal union of cities around Delfi, of which Greek Boiotia was part. Ambacht is in fact derived from ambt (Amt, office, function) and acht (-honourable) and designates an honourable magistracy", a legal district, which is responsible for settling disputes. That is exactly the function of the Amfiktuons, the Executive Council of Delfi (OC 106). The equality of these names can be explained by the emigrations of Gallo-Germanic people to the east and south.
ad 2: The Scheldt soon arrives at an island, St. Pancras Island, in Tournai, a name that can be traced back to Thorn-eye (= Thorn Island). Toorn (-wrath) or Taran is "thunder" (-tonnerre Fr.), while Thor is the thunder god. This corresponds with the thunderclap of the myth.
ad 3: The two-headed snake, the amphisbaena, was known in these regions since a bronze specimen was found in 1648 on the banks of the Scheldt in Tournai in the tomb of Childeric II. This two-headed snake is said to be an indication of death by betrayal, just as Hera treacherously sent these snakes to Herakles in his cradle.
ad 4: Further downstream we find two important tributaries of the Scheldt, the Leie on the left and the Rupel on the right. The Leie is symbolized by a lion, the Flemish lion, and dies, as it were, in the Scheldt, just as the lion in the myth is killed by Herakles. Caesar calls part of the Nervii living there "Leuaci" (De B.G. 5,39), in which the root "lion" is recognisable, and a place Nemetocenna, later called Nemetacum. Nemetacum is often identified as ancient Arras, but the proper Latin name for that place is Rigiacum Atrebatium. Nemetacum is connected with Nemea and must then indicate the region through which the Leie flows or springs. In that case, we have found the source of the legend of the Lion of Nemea.
The second right tributary, the Rupel, refers to the ropal(on), which Herakles holds in his right hand. This "Greek" word is actually a Gallo-Germanic word derived from roh-pael (rough pole, club). In this way his lion skin and club are identified.
ad 5: The Leie flowed near Ghent via seven branches through a marsh area in the Scheldt. Laerne is located east of Ghent. Here we find the Water Snake of Lerna, the Hydra against whom Herakles had to fight. The former seven streams are the seven heads of the swamp monster, which have been dammed by Herakles to develop agriculture. According to Pausanias, there is a forest dedicated to Ceres between Lerna and the marshes. Ceres is Demeter, the Mother Goddess. In Cailleux's time, there was indeed a Nonnenbos (nonna = mother; bos=forest) between Laerne and the Scheldt, as many names in Flanders still refer to Nonnenbossen.
ad 6: In the 14th century, the Zwin (-swine, boar) still passed Damme near Ghent into the Scheldt at spring tide. The other way around, the Scheldt runs with its first branch at low tide into the mouth of the Zwin. A tidal mouth is an iear, such as Yarmouth across the Channel. Erumanth was the Greek translation of Yarmouth. The Erumanthic wild boar is, therefore, the spring tide of the Zwin that was "killed" somewhere by Herakles. It was Artemis who sent this boar because Artemis symbolizes the attraction of the moon and regulates the tides. Consequently, this myth indicates that the flood of the Zwin (= boar) was driven back to sea by the power of Herakles or rather, was dammed (at Damme?). See also Introduction Sparta.
ad 7: Then the Scheldt flows through Antwerp. The name of that city is connected to the giant Antaios, who in the myth strangled all passers-by in order to build a temple with their skulls. Herakles threw him to the ground but failed to kill him until he lifted him, causing the giant to lose his strength and to be strangled by Herakles.6
The legend as told in Antwerp itself is that a giant was buried under Het Ruys, named Druon Antigon, who during his lifetime lined up at the Crane site in Antwerp, where the old cranes are located. He cut off the hand of anyone who wanted to pass and threw it into the Scheldt.
Mask of Giant Antigon (Museum van de Stroom)
It is clear that both legends have the same origin, but that one legend yields an etymology of Antwerp from Antaios and werpen (-wharfing, throwing), while the second explains it as Hand werpen (-hand wharfing).
The word Crane, which in Gallo-Germanic refers to port installations (kraan, crane), has a completely different meaning in French and Greek, because French crâne and Greek karene both mean skull, head", which explains the strange story about the construction of a temple with human skulls!
It is striking that the Antwerp name for the giant Druon Antigon again refers to Herakles, son of Amfitruon. Every year the giant with his giant mask is carried through the streets of Antwerp. The question can be asked whether this mask represents the giant Antaios (Antigon) or Herakles himself (Druon), given the lion's head on his forehead. Because of the importance of the hero and engineer Herakles, I choose the latter.
ad 8: After Antwerp, one arm of the Scheldt connects with the Meuse in the Helion. These names led to the legend of Hulas who, in search of water, was lost in Musia, while Herakles searched for him everywhere. The explanation of this strange story is simple: the Scheldt (Herakles) searches in Musia (Meuse, Maas) for Hulas (the Helion), who is looking for water (the North Sea).
ad 9: The Maas reconnects with the Honte via the Hellegat Canal, which was reclaimed later, starting at Camperhoek near Hulst. At this access channel to the hell or Hades, the monster Kampé was on guard to keep an eye on the Titans in the underworld. Herakles attacks this monster Kampé and then brings up the Hellhound Kerberos (see above). So we are at Camperhoek up to which the Titans (derived from tide) can exert their devastating influence. For the meaning of the Hellhound, see De Grave below.
ad 10: Herakles then goes to the Amazons, where he captures Antiope and takes the belt from Menalipe. This incomprehensible story only becomes clear when we relate it to the second mouth of the Scheldt, the Western Scheldt, where we have now arrived. The name Antiope can be traced back to anth (-flower) and hof (garden), meaning "flower garden", the place where the mysteries of the Floralia were performed, and is, therefore, the same as Cadzand, which can be traced to Gat's anth meaning "Flower estuary". That we are dealing here with the mystery of the virgins of Zeeland and Walcheren, the Walkyres, is indicated by the name Menalipe, which can be traced to Minne and Liebe (double love). Herakles (the Scheldt) has now arrived at Walcheren and Cadsant, s. map.
Estuary of the Westerscheldt with Cadsandt (to the left)
ad 11: Finally, Herakles still has to battle with Acheloös because of Deïnaeira, the mythologization of the last part of the Scheldt. The Tabuda was called Scaldis, Scheldt, from where it was under the influence of the tides. This name is symbolized with a schel", a bell the reciprocating movement of which represents the tidal movements. Bells indicate dangerous spring tides generated by Diana, the virginal moon goddess. Diana and haer (virgin) can be found in the name of Deïaneira. Acheloös, the god of the currents, transforms into a bull, symbolizing the tides because a bull can walk back and forth. Vaccus (bull) is etymologically related to back (=ebb current). This Acheloös leaves a horn behind. This horn of plenty (cornucopia) with its flared opening, again a symbol for the Flood Estuary, is called in Greek rytion, which is actually a corruption of another Gallo-Germanic word: rauda, rota, which indicates the tidal mouth of a river, as evidenced by the names Rodanus (Rhône), Rota opposite Cadiz, where the tidal estuary of the Guadelete is, and Rotta in Rotterdam. Numerous images of this virgin Diana have been found in Zeeland because she is the local Nehalennia, who is often depicted with a cornucopia on her lap (see images RMO, Leiden: cornucopia is often broken off).
ad 12: The Scheldt passes Asciburgium, the Ash Borough, where the ashes of the dead were collected. As" can also be interpreted as ax, middle, centre", making identification with Middelburg plausible. When, sometime after the conquest of Deïnaeira, Herakles returned from an expedition with a girl Iole, Deineira became so jealous that she sent him the Centaur Nessos' poisonous blood-stained shirt, causing Herakles' skin to burn, which made him decide to choose death at the stake because of the pain. When he had thus become ashes alive, his eidolon (image) stayed in the Hades on Walcheren, where he met Odysseus in book 11, but his person ascended to heaven as a god and continued to live in the land of the Blessed. Both the Celts of Iberia and of the Scaldis have the same belief. The first believe that their hero Herakles had been burned on the stake in Weta, while the Celts of the Scaldis state that Wodan reduced his own body to ashes and then went to live in Asgard, which is the same as Asciburgium. Both legends come from the Honte area and from Herakles. Numerous statues of Wodan (Odin) have been found in Zeeland, and in 695, at the order of Willibrord even a statue of Wodan in Westkapelle is said to have been destroyed, a scene immortalized by Reinier Vinkeles in ca. 1780.7
Willibrord orders destruction of Wodan statue
ad 13: Finally, as a god, he marries Hebe. During a strong easterly wind during low water spring tide, around 1700, a forest of piles driven into the ground was still visible, where a pole village or town with hanging gardens would once have stood, the Garden of the Hesperides (= the "Evening Creatures" or the "Girls of the West"). According to Guicciardini, in his time (17th century) there was a beautiful garden near Westhoven that fell under the Abbey of Middelburg. There is still a large castle Westhoven, see the image below.
Numerous objects have been found on this coast, including a statue with an inscription HERCULI MAGUSANO ET HAVAE. Hava refers to Hebe, Herakles' eternally young companion.
In this way, Cailleux has created an attractive and coherent image of a totally incoherent and incomprehensible series of legends about Herakles. This coherence only exists in Western Europe in the Gallo-Germanic culture, language and religion. The Celts of Celtiberia and those of the north formed one family, for whom Herakles, because of his hydraulic engineering works, was such an important hero that he was declared divine after his death.
De Grave's ideas about the backgrounds of the myth
De Grave gives an extensive explanation of the figure Herakles8.
-He is a symbol of heroism, a model and not a real figure, which is evident from his attributes and his name. He represents power symbolized by his club; he is the epitome of courage, symbolized by the lion's skin which he wears on the left, where our heart is and from which he owes his name thymoleonta (-lion's heart, Od. 9,266); thirdly, he exhibits cool-bloodedness and intelligence, which is expressed by his name: Herkuul is Hert-kuul, Heart-cool -> the Cool-hearted, Cold-blooded.9 In summary, he is the symbol of strength, courage and cold-bloodedness. That the -t- has disappeared from the name is standard because of the fact that the Promontorium Herculis in Cornwall is indicated in English by Hertpoint (now Hartlandpoint).
-The mythological origins of this model heros, Alkmene and Zeus, reflect his qualities, since Alkmene can be derived from alk (-power) and men (-spirit) and thus means Spirit-power, while his cold-bloodedness and intelligence are a gift from his father Zeus.
-The stories of Herakles' works became an example for later generations, for example for the Spartan youth who at their initiation rites offered a sacrifice to a statue of Herakles (Paus. 3,14,6).
-The night of Herakles' conception is said to have lasted three times 24 hours, which is an allegory for the northern winter, especially the dark days around the winter solstice (21-24 December). Is this Herakles myth the Bronze Age Christmas tale?
Apples of the Hesperides
De Grave then describes Herakles' first and last work in order to give an idea of the nature of this hero. The twelfth work, stealing the apples from the Hesperides, is particularly interesting because after all the work on land he now also had to conquer the sea, the most difficult work, which made navigation possible. The people of the North also had the greatest need for shipping and trading survival materials to overcome the harsh winters and had abundant amounts of timber for shipbuilding. The apples mentioned were guarded by the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, which already brings us back into Atlantic spheres. As a reward, Herakles received Hebe as a wife and a place in heaven (see Herakles constellation above).
This reward already indicates the importance of his latest work. So this is not about stealing oranges, lemons or sheep's wool, as some commentators have pointed out quite infantile!
Vossius already had a more plausible idea, namely that the apples of the Hesperides were the stars in the sky, and that Herakles is the Sun, whose appearance makes the other little apples disappear. But how can Herakles be placed as the sun in the sky after stealing the stars? Wasn't he always there? And is Hebe the wife of the Sun?
The explanation, according to De Grave, is as follows (I, 62): the garden of the Hesperides is indeed the sky and the apples are the stars, of which the sun is the largest apple10. Stealing these apples has an allegorical significance: studying and understanding the constellations for navigation, which allows seafaring at night and discovering the oceans with its trading places, greatly increasing prosperity. That is why Herakles held such a high position among the seafaring Fenicians and Gallo-Germans. The familiarity with the sea is represented by the marriage of Herakles with Hebe, who because of her name (= ebb, tide) symbolizes the sea. De Grave believes that Thebes, Herakles' birthplace, is derived from Het Hebe (= the tide) via t Hebe > Thebes. Hesiodos calls the Hesperides daughters of the nigh", apparently deriving the name from hespera (night) and idein (seeing): stars that can be seen at night. The Pleiades that guarded these apples and are sometimes also called Hesperides form a constellation that is very useful for seafaring. Their appearance in May marks the start of the shipping season. Hence their name Pleiades can be traced to plein (-navigate).
The last comment about Herakles and seafaring concerns a passage in Macrobius.11 He studied various names of vases and pots, such as karchesia, kymbia, kantharos and skyfos and concluded that all these names are also names for a type of ship. Tradition has it that Herakles has sailed the immense seas by skyfos (our word "skiff", but also Schiffe, ship). Macrobius, therefore, concludes by saying he believes Herakles having sailed the world's seas not in a vase, as generally thought, but by ship. The connection between vase and ship is also evident from the epithet that Homeros often uses for a ship: glafyré, hollow, hollowed out, with a hold. A "vase with a hold" (vas continens Lat.) has become vaisseau (-ship) in French and vessel in English.
All for mankind important discoveries and ingenious works were attributed to Herakles. For example, Mighty Herakles", mentioned by Homeros in 11,601, would even refer to his ability to perform complex hydraulic works that kept Zeeland dry. This fragment quoted above states that one of his obligatory works was lead the dog", in Latin canem ducere, that is, aquam ducere, because canis = Hound = Honte, meaning to build water pipes". According to De Grave, Hercules pumps the Hades dry: he raises the Hellhound and leads him away via an aqueduct" from the Hades (11,625). He does this with the help of Hermes and Athena, that is to say with common sense, art and technology. This water is the flood water of the Honte, the Stux (= rising water), which Hesiodos calls filia reciprocantis oceani' (= daughter of the tide of the ocean. Paus.p.483). The hydraulic works consisted of dykes and locks, with which the hound" (-Honte) was chained. A similar type of technical waterworks was the draining of the marshes around Laerne to the west of Ghent (see above). Herakles was perhaps the first to create a polder and to construct dams and dykes. This is confirmed by Diodorus Siculus, who reports that Hercules had dammed the flood at the Avernus (= underworld) exaggerata terra' (-by throwing an earthen dyke and building a road on it, a dyke road: De Grave I, 249). Smallegange also believes that Herakles had already developed water management technology before the later inhabitants, the Kimbrans.12
An argument pro this explanation is that it is completely unclear in the myth what Herakles subsequently does to the Hellhound Kerberos after frightening King Eurustheus.
Herakles frightens Eurustheus with the Hellhound Cerberus
Before starting the great polder works, Herakles was initiated into the mysteries. Obviously these are not the mysteries of Eleusis in Attica since we are in Zeeland. It is precisely there that the mysteries of the Hades and Kirke are celebrated, as Homeros has described to us, see above and Introduction to Religion. Moreover, Eleusis probably did not exist at the time of the creation of the Herakles myth, see Introduction Eleusis
Finally, Herakles is connected to the Saxons. Compare the Pillars of Hercules in Saxon Switzerland. Some believe that the Saxon religious symbols par excellence, the Irminsuls, should be considered the Pillars of Hercules, all of which were later destroyed by the Christians, as shown on the picture (1882, H. Leutemann).
Destruction of Irminsuls
For centuries "Saxon" has been a title used for engineers. The most important engineering works since Herakles were hydraulic works as dykes and locks. Locks were also called "sassen", a word that occurs in many place names: Sas van Gent, Sassenheim, Lutte-Sas, Groote Sas. Saxons were called Sassen by the Dutch. These works were indispensable not only for water management but also to enable domestic shipping traffic at different water levels. These "sassen" builders were called Sassen because of their profession and it did not go the other way, as many think, namely that the name "sas" would come from the Saxons who lived nearby.13
The above-mentioned statue of Hercules Magusanus, which was kept in the church of West-Kapelle, burned down in the 18th century, had the inscription Magusanus that has not been explained neither by Cailleux nor by Wilkens. Since Hercules was worshipped as a saving deity, this title must be related to why people sought his help. De Grave derives the word from mag-hus, where mag means storage", as the stomach is the storehouse of our food, and hus is a house or building. A mag-hus is equivalent to a stomach-house, a place where merchandise is stored, and is, therefore, the same as a warehouse. Sometimes ET HAVAE has been placed behind the name Magasanus, which Cailleux sees as ET HEBAE (see above). De Grave, however, sees a connection with have" (possession of goods), which is in accordance with the first part Magusanus, so that the entire inscription would indicate: Hercules, patron of warehouses and merchandise'. Against this explanation of Havae argues that in that case, just like Magusanus, Havanus" should be read: protector of the goods", because Havae would mean in honour of the Have", which is nonsense. I, therefore, choose Cailleux's view, so that the entire inscription should be translated as follows: In honour of Hercules, protector of the warehouses/trade, and in honour of Hebe'.
Although our Atlantean authors differ in views on the details of the Herakles myth, broadly all draw the same conclusion from the overwhelming amount of geographic and etymological evidence that Herakles is a hero of the northern Gallo-Germanic world. In doing so, Wilkens puts more emphasis on the initiation character of his twelve works, Cailleux sees him as the figure who fights against the eternal enemy of the Low Countries, the water with its dangerous spring tides, and who, with his twelve works, represents the course of the Scheldt down to the North Sea. De Grave considers him an example of courage, strength and intelligence and a symbol of navigation, shipping and water management works.
His worship accompanied the migrations to the southern countries, where his cult among the Celtiberians and Fenicians played an important role.
2. Herakles came from Thebes, identified as Dieppe or as the Tabuda, the Scheldt, see Introduction Thebes and below.
3. PA 165
4. Enduval = Hannibal. See R. Ford Manual para viajeros por España etc., p. 194.
5. Dom Bouquet Receuil des histoires des Gaules. According to other sources, Celtus, Galatus and Illyrus are the sons of Galatea (XVIII, 45). These names also point to a Gallo-Germanic basis.
6. Guicciardini M.L Description des Pays Bas, s.v. Anvers, 1588, or Beschryvinghe van alle de Nederlanden, A'dam, 1612. Note: Guicciardini mentions a theory that Frugia in Asia Minor is named after Frisia, but laughs at it (p.159). Nevertheless, its probably the correct theory, since before 800 BC there was no Frugia in Asia Minor at all!
8. The Grave Républiques des Champs Elysées I, p. 220 ff.
9. As Herman can be derived from Hert-man man with heart' = her(t)os = heros and a heerschare from hert-schare (- a group of brave men, army).
10. De Grave derives the name of the Sun God Apollo, perhaps not seriously, from apple'!
11. Macrobius Saturnalia V, 21.8.
12. Smallegange Chronicle of Zeeland p.25 ff., see Google books.
13. The same naming by profession can be found in Morini" (from mar-sea > Marines), the Suevi (from zweven, zwerven = wandering; they were Sailors under the protection of Isis), the Catti (from katsen -hunting> Hunters).
Abbreviations used for the books of Th. Cailleux (1878):
OC Origine celtique de la civilisation de tous les peuples
PH Poésies d' Homère
PA Pays Atlantiques, decrit par Homère
Citations of Homer: Roman cyphers = Ilias, e.g. XX,345; Arabic cyphers = Odyssey, e.g. 13,34.
Bibliography Atlantic authors:
Homeros Odyssee, by Gerard Janssen, Leeuwarden 2018 = H.O.
Gideon E. Troje lag in Engeland, Deventer 1991, reprint of Homerus, zanger der Kelten, 1973
Grave Ch.J. De République des Champs Élysées, Gent 1806, 3 vols.
Oosten H. van: Trojaanse tin-oorlog en Odysseus'oceaanroute 2020 (with English summary)
Vinci F. The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales, 2005
Wilkens I.J. Where Troy once stood, 1990,
Dutch: Waar eens Troje lag, 2015 Leeuwarden