Heracles (Herakles) was a Greek mythical hero(c), later known to the Romans as Hercules. He is one of several mythical heroes who were reportedly abandoned as babies(f).
There is also a claim that the Greek Herakles had a much earlier namesake the patron of Tyre and known as Melqart, which translates as ‘king of the city’. “Melqart was considered by the Phoenicians to represent the monarchy, perhaps the king even represented the god, or vice-versa, so that the two became one and the same. The ruler was known by the similar term mlk-qrt, and the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel criticises the kings of Tyre for considering themselves god on earth”(i).
He has also been identified with the biblical Samson(a) and the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh(b). Dhani Irwanto who claims that Atlantis was situated in Indonesia has tried to link Herakles with the Javanese mythical figure of Kala [1093.118]. However, Dos Santos who also advocated an Atlantis location in the same region decided that Hercules was originally the Hindu hero Vishnu [320.129], quoting Megasthenes (350-290 BC), the Greek geographer, in support of his contention. Others have referred to Megasthenes as identifying Hercules with Krishna(e)(g). The list of associations seems to go on and on, including the Scandanavian Hoder, Akkadian Nergal, Roman Mars and Ireland’s Cú Chulainn(h).
The penitential twelve labours of Hercules have long been associated with the zodiac(j), which is reminiscent of the warriors in the Iliad who have also been associated with the zodiac!(k) Alice A. Bailey was probably the best-known exponent of this back in the 1980s, in The Labours of Hercules .
He is usually portrayed as brandishing a club and wearing a lion’s head as a helmet, probably because he, like Samson, reputedly unarmed, overcame lions and since lions were not part of the fauna of ancient Greece it is reasonable to assume that at least this part of the tale had an Asian or African origin, but the similarities don’t end there(a).
Euhemerists have suggested that he was a real historical figure, possibly a former king of Argos.
A more controversial suggestion has been made by Emmet J. Sweeney, in his 2001 book, Arthur and Stonehenge, in which the blurb for the book claims that “Arthur himself, he was the primitive bear-god “Artos”, the Celtic version of Hercules. Originally portrayed with a bear-skin over his head and shoulders and carrying a great oaken club, he became the prototype of the Greek Hercules when Hellenic traders, braving the wild waters of the Atlantic in search of tin, heard his story from the Britons.” However, Sweeney also identifies Moses “as an alter ego of Hercules.” in his Atlantis: The Evidence of Science[700.198].
There appears to have been a cult of Heracles that may have extended as far as Britain, where the Cerne Abbas chalk figure is sometimes claimed to represent him(d).
The term ‘Pillars of Heracles’ was used by the ancient Greeks to define the outer reaches of their limited seagoing range. This changed over time as their nautical capabilities improved. Some of the earlier ‘Pillars’ were located at the entrance to the Black Sea and the Strait of Sicily and the Strait of Messina. Later the term was applied exclusively to the Strait of Gibraltar.
(a) Archive 3444