Saturday, June 8, 2013

Was the mythological Hercules a real person?

In a nutshell, probably. Gaius Sullustius Crispus, also known as "Sallust" in the book "Jugurthine War"(112-106 B.C) quotes an even more ancient source. This source is the "Punic volumes" of King Hiempsal. Speaking of the legendary Hercules he says: "But after Hercules, as the Africans think, perished in Spain, his army, which was composed of various nations, having lost its leader, and many candidates severally claiming the command of it, was speedily dispersed. Of its constituent troops, the Medes, Persians, and Armenians, having sailed over into Africa, occupied the parts nearest to our sea. The Persians, however, settled more toward the ocean (Sallust)." This is the only historical account that I have encountered so far concerning Hercules. It seems that this Hercules was a leader of a large army of diverse nations. Secondly, the mythology is centered around the same region, which would be northern Africa,Greece, and Italy. Thirdly; deification of great men was common in those days. Many of the "Labors of Hercules" take him through all of these regions. In the spirit of true scholarship, I readily admit that this is not conclusive evidence. I hope to find more references to Hercules apart from the myths. However; in the past, "mythological" cities and persons have been found to be real. One of the famous instances is that of Heinrich Schliemann who is responsible for the discovery of the cities of Troy,Mycenae, and Tiryns. Mentioned by Homer in the Illiad and Odyssey, these cities were once thought to be fictitious However, Schliemann became obsessed with the idea that these places were real. Interestingly,Schliemann never studied archaeology!


Sallust, The Jugurthine War

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