Celebrating the Festival of Hercules

Orphic Hymn to Heracles:

Hear, pow’rful, Hercules untam’d and strong, to whom vast hands, and mighty works belong,
Almighty Titan, prudent and benign, of various forms, eternal and divine,
Father of Time, the theme of gen’ral praise, ineffable, ador’d in various ways.
Magnanimous, in divination skill’d and in the athletic labours of the field.
‘Tis thine strong archer, all things to devour, supreme, all-helping, all-producing pow’r;
To thee mankind as their deliv’rer pray, whose arm can chase the savage tribes away:
Uweary’d, earth’s best blossom, offspring fair, to whom calm peace, and peaceful works are dear.
Self-born, with primogenial fires you shine, and various names and strength of heart are thine.
Thy mighty head supports the morning light, and bears untam’d, the silent gloomy night;
From east to west endu’d with strength divine, twelve glorious labours to absolve is thine;
Supremely skill’d, thou reign’st in heav’n’s abodes, thyself a God amid’st th’ immortal Gods.
With arms unshaken, infinite, divine, come, blessed pow’r, and to our rites incline;
The mitigations of disease convey, and drive disasterous maladies away.
Come, shake the branch with thy almighty arm, dismiss thy darts and noxious fate disarm.

From the State of Sandus Facebook page:

Happy Festival of Hercules!

The festival of Hercules, also known by his Greek name Heracles, is dedicated to the Greek hero who redeemed himself, after killing his family in a bout of madness, by performing his 12 Labours. His parents were Zeus and Alcmene and was abused as a child by Zeus’s wife, Hera, who was driven to despise him because of Zeus’s marital infidelity.

During his childhood, Hera sent a snake in an attempt to kill the child — and he strangled the snake in his cradle, despite being a mere infant.

His Twelve Labours were to: slay the Nemean Lion; slay the Lernaean Hydra; capture the Golden Hind of Artemis; capture the Erymanthian Boar; clean the Augean stables in one day; slay the Stymphalian Birds; capture the Cretan Bull; steal the Mares of Diomedes; obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons; obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon; steal the apples of the Hesperides; and, capture and bring back Cerberus.

The myth of Heracles is wrapped and even more adventures, acts of redemption and forgiveness, and he had his own largely independent cult at Rome as Hercules. According to myth, he was killed by the poisoned blood of the Centaur Nessus who conceived of a plan to kill Heracles in the guise of a love potion given to Deianeira, whom Heracles later married. Only the mythical hero Philoctetes would light the pyre of Heracles, who granted him custodianship of his bow.

Heracles was deified by his father, Zeus, who made him the Gatekeeper of Mount Olympus. After his apotheosis, he married Hebe, the goddess of youth and cup-bearer of the Olympians.


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