The Apotheosis (page 460)

Chapter 13: Herakles

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Il 117-19 – Homer, Iliad

For not even the mighty Heracles escaped death, albeit he was most dear to Zeus, son of Cronos, the king, but fate overcame him, and the dread wrath of Hera.  Greek Text

Od 11.601-4 – Homer, Odyssey

And after him I marked the mighty Heracles—his phantom; for he himself among the immortal gods takes his joy in the feast, and has to wife Hebe, of the fair ankles, daughter of great Zeus and of Here, of the golden sandals.  Greek Text

Od 11.605-27 – Homer, Odyssey

About him rose a clamor from the dead, as of birds flying everywhere in terror; and he like dark night, with his bow bare and with arrow on the string, glared about him terribly, like one in act to shoot. Awful was the belt about his breast, [610] a baldric of gold, whereon wondrous things were fashioned, bears and wild boars, and lions with flashing eyes, and conflicts, and battles, and murders, and slayings of men. May he never have designed, or hereafter design such another, even he who stored up in his craft the device of that belt. [615] He in turn knew me when his eyes beheld me, and weeping spoke to me winged words: “‘Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, ah, wretched man, dost thou, too, drag out an evil lot such as I once bore beneath the rays of the sun? [620] I was the son of Zeus, son of Cronos, but I had woe beyond measure; for to a man far worse than I was I made subject, and he laid on me hard labours. Yea, he once sent me hither to fetch the hound of Hades, for he could devise for me no other task mightier than this. [625] The hound I carried off and led forth from the house of Hades; and Hermes was my guide, and flashing-eyed Athena.’ “So saying, he went his way again into the house of Hades.  Greek Text

DMor 11 – Loukianos, Dialogi Mortuorum (Dialogues of the Dead)

11 (16). Diogenes and Heracles

DIOGENES
Surely this is Heracles I see? By his godhead, ’tis no other! The bow, the club, the lion’s-skin, the giant frame; ’tis Heracles complete. Yet how should this be?—a son of Zeus, and mortal? I say, Mighty Conqueror, are you dead? I used to sacrifice to you in the other world; I understood you were a God!

HERACLES
Thou didst well. Heracles is with the Gods in Heaven, and hath white-ankled Hebe there to wife. I am his phantom.

DIOGENES
His phantom! What then, can one half of any one be a God, and the other half mortal?

HERACLES
Even so. The God still lives. ’Tis I, his counterpart, am dead.

DIOGENES
I see. You’re a dummy; he palms you off upon Pluto, instead of coming himself. And here are you, enjoying his mortality!

HERACLES
’Tis somewhat as thou hast said.

DIOGENES
Well, but where were Aeacus’s keen eyes, that he let a counterfeit Heracles pass under his very nose, and never knew the difference?

HERACLES
I was made very like to him.

DIOGENES
I believe you! Very like indeed, no difference at all! Why, we may find it’s the other way round, that you are Heracles, and the phantom is in Heaven, married to Hebe!

HERACLES
Prating knave, no more of thy gibes; else thou shalt presently learn how great a God calls me phantom.

DIOGENES
H’m. That bow looks as if it meant business. And yet,—what have I to fear now? A man can die but once. Tell me, phantom,—by your great Substance I adjure you—did you serve him in your present capacity in the upper world? Perhaps you were one individual during your lives, the separation taking place only at your deaths, when he, the God, soared heavenwards, and you, the phantom, very properly made your appearance here?

HERACLES
Thy ribald questions were best unanswered. Yet thus much thou shalt know.—All that was Amphitryon in Heracles, is dead; I am that mortal part. The Zeus in him lives, and is with the Gods in Heaven.

DIOGENES
Ah, now I see! Alcmena had twins, you mean,—Heracles the son of Zeus, and Heracles the son of Amphitryon? You were really half-bothers all the time?

HERACLES
Fool! not so. We twain were one Heracles.

DIOGENES
It’s a little difficult to grasp, the two Heracleses packed into one. I suppose you must have been like a sort of Centaur, man and God all mixed together?

HERACLES
And are not all thus composed of two elements,—the body and the soul? What then should hinder the soul from being in Heaven, with Zeus who gave it, and the mortal part—myself—among the dead?

DIOGENES
Yes, yes, my esteemed son of Amphitryon,—that would be all very well if you were a body; but you see you are a phantom, you have no body. At this rate we shall get three Heracleses.

HERACLES
Three?

DIOGENES
Yes; look here. One in Heaven: one in Hades, that’s you, the phantom: and lastly the body, which by this time has returned to dust. That makes three. Can you think of a good father for number Three?

HERACLES
Impudent quibbler! And who art thou?

DIOGENES
I am Diogenes’s phantom, late of Sinope. But my original, I assure you, is not `among th’ immortal Gods,’ but here among dead men; where he enjoys the best of company, and snaps my ringers at Homer and all hair-splitting.  Greek Text

Th 950-55 – Hesiod, Theogony

And mighty Heracles, the valiant son of neat-ankled Alcmena, when he had finished his grievous toils, made Hebe the child of great Zeus and goldshod Hera his shy wife in snowy Olympus. Happy he! For he has finished his great work [955] and lives amongst the undying gods, untroubled and unaging all his days.  Greek Text

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Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, December 2023.

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