Elagabalus & Julia Maesa AE28 of Markianopolis. Hercules standing facing, head left, leaning on club and holding Apples of the Hesperides, E to left.

Ancient Coins - Elagabalus & Julia Maesa AE28 of Markianopolis.  Hercules standing facing, head left, leaning on club and holding Apples of the Hesperides, E to left.
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Elagabalus & Julia Maesa AE28 of Markianopolis. Magistrate Seleucus. AVT K M AVPH ANTWNEINOC AVG IOVLIA MAICA AVG, laureate, draped & cuirassed bust of Elagabalus facing draped bust of Maesa / VP I8L ANT CELEVKOV MARKIANOPOLITWN, Hercules standing facing, head left, leaning on club and holding Apples of the Hesperides, E to left. markianopolis AE28 Hercules. No.1443. gFine and Rare.

Labor 11: The Apples of the Hesperides

Eurystheus commanded Hercules to bring him golden apples which belonged to Zeus, king of the gods. Hera had given these apples to Zeus as a wedding gift, so surely this task was impossible. Hera, who didn~t want to see Hercules succeed, would never permit him to steal one of her prize possessions, would she?

These apples were kept in a garden at the northern edge of the world, and they were guarded not only by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon, but also by the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas, the titan who held the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.

Hercules~ first problem was that he didn~t know where the garden was. He journeyed through Libya, Egypt, Arabia, and Asia, having adventures along the way. He was stopped by Kyknos, the son of the war god, Ares, who demanded that Hercules fight him. After the fight was broken up by a thunderbolt, Hercules continued on to Illyria, where he seized the sea-god Nereus, who knew the garden~s secret location. Nereus transformed himself into all kinds of shapes,trying to escape, but Hercules held tight and didn~t release Nereus until he got the information he needed.

Continuing on his quest, Hercules was stopped by Antaeus, the son of the sea god, Poseidon, who also challenged Hercules to fight. Hercules defeated him in a wrestling match, lifting him off the ground and crushing him, because when Antaeus touched the earth he became stronger. After that, Hercules met up with Busiris, another of Poseidon~s sons, was captured, and was led to an altar to be a human sacrifice. But Hercules escaped, killing Busiris, and journeyed on.

Hercules came to the rock on Mount Caucasus where Prometheus was chained. Prometheus, a trickster who made fun of the gods and stole the secret of fire from them, was sentenced by Zeus to a horrible fate. He was bound to the mountain, and every day a monstrous eagle came and ate his liver, pecking away at Prometheus~ tortured body. After the eagle flew off, Prometheus~ liver grew back, and the next day he had to endure the eagle~s painful visit all over again. This went on for 30 years, until Hercules showed up and killed the eagle.

In gratitude, Prometheus told Hercules the secret to getting the apples. He would have to send Atlas after them, instead of going himself. Atlas hated holding up the sky and the earth so much that he would agree to the task of fetching the apples, in order to pass his burden over to Hercules. Everything happened as Prometheus had predicted, and Atlas went to get the apples while Hercules was stuck in Atlas~s place, with the weight of the world literally on his shoulders.

When Atlas returned with the golden apples, he told Hercules he would take them to Eurystheus himself, and asked Hercules to stay there and hold the heavy load for the rest of time. Hercules slyly agreed, but asked Atlas whether he could take it back again, just for a moment, while the hero put some soft padding on his shoulders to help him bear the weight of the sky and the earth. Atlas put the apples on the ground, and lifted the burden onto his own shoulders. And so Hercules picked up the apples and quickly ran off, carrying them back, uneventfully, to Eurystheus.

There was one final problem: because they belonged to the gods, the apples could not remain with Eurystheus. After all the trouble Hercules went through to get them, he had to return them to Athena, who took them back to the garden at the northern edge of the world.

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