Septimius Severus AE26 of Hadrianopolis, Thrace. Hercules strangling the Namean lion.

Ancient Coins - Septimius Severus AE26 of Hadrianopolis, Thrace. Hercules strangling the Namean lion.
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Septimius Severus AE26 of Hadrianopolis, Thrace. AV K L CEPT CEVHEROC, laureate cuirassed bust right / ADRIANOPOLEITWN, Hercules strangling the Namean lion. hadrianopolis AE26 Moushmov 2586.  

HERCULES

The most popular of Greek heroes, Hercules (sometimes
called "Herakles") was celebrated in stories, sculptures , paintings and coins.He was born in
Thebes, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, Amphitryon's wife, and the twin brother of Iphicles, while his
mortal parents were in exile from Argolis, their true homeland. Amphitryon, his "mortal" father, was a grand-son of
Perseus, the legendary founder of Mycen�, and Alcmene, his mother, was Amphitryon's cousin,
herself a grand-daughter of Perseus. Because of Hera's jealousy of Alcmene and a careless pledge of
Zeus, even before his birth, Heracles was deprived of the kingdom of Mycen� in favor of his father's
cousin Eurystheus, yet another grand-son of Perseus, who later subjected hims to his famous labors.
The legends relating to Heracles are so many that it is impossible to quote them all here. While a baby,
he managed to suck the breast of Hera in order to acquire immortality, despite her hatred for him.
When he and his twin brother were still toddlers, one night they were asleep, Hera introduced two
monstruous snakes in their room. While Iphicles started to cry as soon as he saw the snakes, Heracles
seized one in each hand and suffocated them. This is how Amphitryon found out which one was his
son and which Zeus'. Heracles grew to gigantic proportions and soon started to undertake wondrous
deeds.

The Labors of Hercules

The goddess Hera, determined to make trouble for
Hercules, made him lose his mind. In a confused and
angry state, he killed his own wife and children.

When he awakened from his "temporary insanity,"
Hercules was shocked and upset by what he'd done. He
prayed to the god Apollo for guidance, and the god's
oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the
king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years, in
punishment for the murders.

As part of his sentence, Hercules had to perform twelve
Labors, feats so difficult that they seemed impossible.
Fortunately, Hercules had the help of Hermes and
Athena, sympathetic deities who showed up when he
really needed help. By the end of these Labors, Hercules
was, without a doubt, Greece's greatest hero.

His struggles made Hercules the perfect embodiment of
an idea the Greeks called pathos, the experience of
virtuous struggle and suffering which would lead to fame
and, in Hercules' case, immortality.

Initially, Hercules was required to complete ten
labors, not twelve. King Eurystheus decided
Hercules' first task would be to bring him the skin of
an invulnerable lion which terrorized the hills around
Nemea.

Setting out on such a seemingly impossible labor,
Hercules came to a town called Cleonae, where he
stayed at the house of a poor workman-for-hire,
Molorchus. When his host offered to sacrifice an
animal to pray for a safe lion hunt, Hercules asked
him to wait 30 days. If the hero returned with the
lion's skin, they would sacrifice to Zeus, king of the
gods. If Hercules died trying to kill the lion,
Molorchus agreed to sacrifice instead to Hercules, as
a hero.

When Hercules got to Nemea and began tracking the
terrible lion, he soon discovered his arrows were
useless against the beast. Hercules picked up his club
and went after the lion. Following it to a cave which
had two entrances, Hercules blocked one of the
doorways, then approached the fierce lion through the
other. Grasping the lion in his mighty arms, and
ignoring its powerful claws, he held it tightly until
he'd choked it to death.

Hercules returned to Cleonae, carrying the dead lion,
and found Molorchus on the 30th day after he'd left for
the hunt. Instead of sacrificing to Hercules as a dead
man, Molorchus and Hercules were able to sacrifice
together, to Zeus.

When Hercules made it back to Mycenae, Eurystheus
was amazed that the hero had managed such an
impossible task. The king became afraid of Hercules,
and forbade him from entering through the gates of the
city. Furthermore, Eurystheus had a large bronze jar
made and buried partway in the earth, where he could
hide from Hercules if need be. After that, Eurystheus
sent his commands to Hercules through a herald,
refusing to see the powerful hero face to face.

Many times we can identify Hercules in ancient Greek
vase paintings or sculptures simply because he is
depicted wearing a lion skin. Ancient writers
disagreed as to whether the skin Hercules wore was
that of the Nemean lion, or one from a different lion,
which Hercules was said to have killed when he was
18 years old. The playwright Euripides wrote that
Hercules' lion skin came from the grove of Zeus, the
sanctuary at Nemea:

First he cleared the grove of Zeus of a lion, and put
its skin upon his back, hiding his yellow hair in its
fearful tawny gaping jaws.

Euripides, Hercules, 359