Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology VI, A Mycenaean phase in the reception of myths about Hēraklēs
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2019.08.30. "Thinking comparatively about Greek mythology VI, A Mycenaean phase in the reception of myths about Hēraklēs." Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractI have already commented on a set of myths known as the twelve Labors of Hēraklēs, and also on a multitude of further myths that I describe as the sub-Labors of the hero. In my posting for 2019.08.15, abbreviated here simply as TC IV, I listed all twelve of the Labors and most of the numerous sub-Labors as narrated by Diodorus of Sicily, who is dated to the first century BCE. And then, in my posting for 2019.08.22, TC V, I commented on three sub-Labors—this time as narrated in the text of “Apollodorus,” dated to the second century CE. Here, in TC VI, I will comment on some further sub-Labors as narrated by both Diodorus and “Apollodorus,” comparing them with the twelve Labors. All along, I will keep one general question foremost in mind: are the sub-Labors of Hēraklēs really different from his Labors? In attempting an answer to this question, I will focus on one sub-Labor and one Labor, both of which are narrated by “Apollodorus.” In the case of the sub-Labor, it is a story that tells how the hero Hēraklēs hunted down and killed with a weapon the Lion of Cithaeron. In the case of the Labor, it is a story that tells how this hero killed with his bare hands the Lion of Nemea by way of a choke-hold—I deliberately use here language that fits the athletic terminology of wrestling. In the illustration for introducing my essay, I show a copy of a picture engraved into a Mycenaean gem, and this picture will turn out to be relevant to my argument, which is, that the stories about the Lion of Cithaeron and the Lion of Nemea both stem from a Mycenaean phase in the reception of myths about Hēraklēs.
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