Pillars of Hercules

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Ethan
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Pillars of Hercules

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Herodotus 2.44
I took ship for Tyre in Phoenicia, where I had learned by inquiry that there was a holy temple of Heracles.
There I saw it, richly equipped with many other offerings, besides two pillars (στῆλαι δύο), one of refined gold, one of emerald.

two worships of Heracles, sacrificing to one Heracles as to an immortal, and calling him the Olympian, but to the other bringing offerings as to a dead hero

The prominent feature of this Tyrian Hercules temple are the two pillars, that are called στῆλαι, the word also used forΣτῆλαι Ἡρακλήϊαι "Pillars of Hercules".

In Strabo 5 there is disagreement regarding the nature and location of the pillars of Hercules, they are either geographical features or the physical two bronze pillars in the temple of Heracles in Gadeira.

Strabo 3.5.5
For nothing else resembles pillars around the strait. But those eight-cubit bronze pillars in the temple of Heracles in Gadeira

οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐοικέναι στήλαις τὰ περὶ τὸν πορθμόν. οἱ δὲ τὰς ἐν τῷ Ἡρακλείῳ τῷ ἐν Γαδείροις χαλκᾶς ὀκταπήχεις


Temple_of_Hercules_Gaditanus (wiki)
The sanctuary was likely a complex of buildings where the main structure could be accessed through a gateway flanked by two large columns. As described by Silius Italicus in the 1st century BC

According to the Latin historian Pomponius Mela, the temple housed the remains of Hercules, contributing to its immense fame. Moreover, the temple held renowned relics such as the belt of Teucer, a Greek hero and son of Telamon, and the tree of Pygmalion, whose fruits were said to be emeralds.

Here it mentions the remains of Hercules which means this is Hercules the hero, which also aligns with Homer Odyssey 11.601 in which Odysseus met the phantom of Hercules beyond the gates of Hades (Πύλαι Ἀΐδαο) compare with Πύλαι Γαδειρίδες "Gates of Gadeira" (another name for pillars of Hercules).

Πύλαι Ἀΐδαο "gates of Hades" appear in Isaiah 38:10 שערי שאול and a synonym in Psalm 116:3 מצרי שאול (Στένον Ἀΐδαο) "straits of Hades" and also in Revelations 1:18 κλεις αδου (Κληῗδες Ἀΐδαο) "Keys of Hades".

Herodotus 5.108
The Phoenicians were sailing around the headland which is called the keys of Cyprus Φοίνικες περιέπλεον τὴν ἄκρην αἳ καλεῦνται Κληῖδες τῆς Κύπρου

κλεῖς; of promontories, straits, etc., Κληῗδες or “Κληΐδες (LSJ)

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Re: Pillars of Hercules

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In Plato, Critias 113 Gadeirus Eumelos is son of Cleito (Κλειτὼ) and twin brother of Atlas and is said to be the namesake of Gadeira. Cleito (Κλειτὼ) means קרית "renowned" which may also be the קרת in Melqart and Carthage and the κλῆς in Herakles.

This Gadeirus Eumelos might be the same as the hero-Hercules entombed in the temple of Gadeira, according to Pomponius Mela, the temple of Gadeira held the tree of Pygmalion, whose fruits were said to be emeralds.

Could this Pygmalion be the King of Tyre (831 BCE – 785 BCE) ?

Gadeira is said to be the location of the golden apples which i believe to be pears. The name Eumelos means εὖ μῆλον "rich in fruits". In Arabic كمثرى" (kumthar) are pears, clearly from σκάμανδρος (סמדר) describing them as "yellow gold fruit". The Pyrgi tablets identifies Astarte with Juno (Hero) and in Pliny the Elder 4.36 Gadeira was also known as the Island of Juno (Hera) and pears are sacred to her.

The word Emerald in the Greek is σμάραγδος (smaragdos) cf. Arabic: زمرد (zumurrud) which are called in Hebrew ברקת which is also homologue with φλόξ flame, of precious stones, of lightning. And also ἀμάρυγμα (amarygma) sparkle, twinkle, flashing, radiant, of changing colour, and light, of gems. And the verb σμαραγέω (smarageo) crash (of thunder). cf. Psalm 144:6.

So perhaps the fruits of the Pygmalion tree were pears

Appian, Wars in Spain 11.65
He (Fabius) .. sailed through the straits of Gadeira offering sacrifice to Hercules
ἐς Γάδειρα διέπλευσε τὸν πορθμόν, Ἡρακλεῖ θύσων

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Re: Pillars of Hercules

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In Strabo 3.5.5 it states "But those eight-cubit bronze pillars" which seem short to be pillars. (χαλκᾶς ὀκταπήχεις)
cf. 1 Kings 7:15 He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits

Its suspect then that Strabo text originally said "two eighteen cubit pillars" and due to copyist mistakes was changed to "two eight cubit pillars".

Could Solomon be also Pygmalion?
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Re: Herakles Seal, discovered in Israel

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Not to threadjack, but this was in my news feed:
https://greekreporter.com/2024/02/28/he ... ent-image/

"2800-Year-Old Seal Provides ‘missing link’ to Hercules"
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Re: Pillars of Hercules

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There is a large scarab on the left with large wings on that seal.

κάνθαρος (kántharos) dung-beetle, scarab. In latter Greek written σκάνθαρος (skántharos)
> σκάνθα >σκάναθ > σκάναβ >σκάλαβ > σκάραβος "Scarab" cf. κάραβος (kárabos).

The Arabic is kunfusa (خنفساء)

I believe the ultimate root for all these is כנף "wing".
1 Kings 6:24 כנף הכרוב "wing of the cherub"

The term כרוב resembles κάραβοι (karavoi) "beetles".

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The beetle also resembles a human skull
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Re: Pillars of Hercules

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Not all Hydras have seven heads, the one here as nine heads.
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Re: Herakles Seal, discovered in Israel

Post by billd89 »

A better image:
Image

Without looking online elsewhere or re-reading the article it came from, I see at first glance:
Clockwise from Far Left:
1) the Winged Beetle/Monster (Ethan identified)
2) a Basilisk (maybe), Upper Left Quadrant
3) A Crumpled/Crouching (Dead?) Person
4) A Small Triangle (Spade?)
5) A Priestly (?) Warrior, Slaying
6) Giant Serpent, w/ Seven Heads (Evoking Tree of Life?), At Far Right
7) an Ankh
8) A Crouching, Worshipful Man
9) A Mysterious Cherub Basilisk Creature (Heavily-Damaged), Lower Left Quadrant

I'll try to research more, later.

The article describes:
The Hercules seal was discovered during an archaeological excavation in Tel Hazor in 2022, and depicts an intense battle sequence involving a human figure wielding a spear facing up to a seven-headed serpent, Uehlinger said. A griffin, scarab, and a pair of monkeys are also visible on the edges of the scene.

Another article says:
In the carving, a man armed with a spear fights a seven-headed serpent that stands erect. Behind the hero are a griffin, a sacred serpent referred to as a uraeus, and a scarab beetle.

The presence of these mythical creatures emphasizes the supernatural nature of the scene, writes Uehlinger. There’s also a pair of squatting monkeys, an ankh, and one other unidentified sign. It was likely created by an Israelite or a Pheonician and dates to the Iron Age (ca. 840-732 B.C.E).

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Re: Yahweh as Tyrian Herakles?

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Is this an Egyptianized Philistine(?) version of the Herakles myth -- w/ a Very Israelitish Herakles battling a Typhonesque Hydra? Or should I see Leviathan slayed by the (Yahweh-)Warrior-Priest, between three supporting Seraphim: a Scarab, a Griffin and a Basilisk?

Of course, I've been very curious about Herakles-Israel or Herakles- Palaemon for awhile now. I've identified both the author and first scholarly article published by Eduard Meyer (1855-1930), who taught Ludwig Edelstein's friends and colleagues Hans Lewy and Elias Bickerman. Meyer retired in 1923, so I don't think he taught Edelstein. But I wondered how his thesis might have crept in to our Spiritual Toolkit, our Battle, etc., particularly since Herakles has an outsized relevance at Siwa.

Here is a better description of the symbolism and importance of this archaelological find:
https://www.aol.com/2-800-old-serpent-a ... 54272.html

It would appear that The "Mighty One with Seven Heads" (Šlyṭ D.šbʿt Rašm) is Leviathan. But also note: here is "Resheph assimilated with Seth as a winged figure spearing Apophis snake, Nineteenth-Twentieth Dynasties {c.1100 BC}, Royal Art and History Museums, Brussels After: Grande,'The Winged Reshep: Egyptian Iconographic Evidence', 391, fig.1."

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The Tel Hazor example would suggest Resheph-Seth-Yahweh at a somewhat later date, after 1100 BC. I wonder if the garb of the Warrior-Priest(?) helps date this artifact more precisely? Themes of heroism, divine protection, and the struggle against chaos/evil seem universal, but this plaque suggests this particular Warrior-Priest has Egypt behind him. The damaged griffin is utterly unfamiliar to me, but see this informative paper, Lyvia Morgan, "An Aegean Griffin in Egypt: The Hunt Frieze at Tell el-Dab´a" [2010]p. :
The Syrian-Levantine griffin has a small beak, like that of a falcon, with (usually) straight raised wings, and sometimes a solar disc or plant-form between tendril-like horns on the head. ...5.

5. Beatrice Teissier, Egyptian Iconography on Syro-Palestinian Cylinder Seals of the Middle Bronze Age [1996], 87, Nos. 163–164.

pp.83-4:
With the ankh (157,158)
This is a straightforward association. The ankh is ubiquitous with both Egyptianising and non-Egyptianising subjects on Levantine glyptic, as well as with sphinxes on New Kingdom scarabs (e.g. Hornung and Staehelin, 1976: no. 323 B).

p.88:
Aggressor
The motif of the sphinx trampling on victims, an aspect of his royal nature in Egypt, often occurs as part of a grouping on Syro-Levantine cylinder seals and was not freely adapted. Another integral symbol, which partly reflects the sphinx's aggressive apotropaic nature, is the motif of the sphinx trampling on snakes. The sphinx's lion nature is also expressed by his aggressive manner with other animals (e.g. 137).

Plate 174 on p.94 shows the Griffin as Khnum, a ram-headed bird. I wonder if this Tel Hazor griffin is merely a poor rendering? Or the 'tendrils' perhaps suggest that odd crest of the Egyptian Vultures kept by old priests of Seth-Baal?

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Tel Hazor is 55kms from Tyre; it is not unreasonable to assume the myths and folkloric culture in these two places was similar, w/ 2-3 days travel. Unless the clay artifact was definitely produced near Tel Hazor, however, we cannot assume it is 'local': the Egyptian elements alone are cautionary, in that regard. Still, its very curious: that a Northern Israelitish warrior-priest would have had this made, to indicate his Egyptian authority. Or something.

I recall the Jamnia worship of Herakles & Little Horon, c.250 BC. I presume that by then, Melqart had been subsumed in an Anthropomorphized Hero Deity. I'm not sure if/how these Herakles correspond, tho.

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Re: Pillars of Hercules

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Melicertes on dolphin 161-180 A.D.
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Melicertes (Palaemon)
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Phoenicia, Tyre. Circa 430 BC (Dolphin & Screech Owl with a crook and flail)
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"ἀσκάλαφος" (askálaphos) means screech owl, in Greek mythology Ascalaphus is the orchardist of Hades, changed into a screech-owl by Demeter for telling Hades that Persephone had eaten pomegranate seeds. The crook and flail are Egyptian symbols typically associated with Osiris.
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Re: Interpreting this "Herakles Seal"

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Image

I want to read this Seal. Does a narrative start at the left, read to the right? The centrality of the Great Warrior's combat w/ the Hydra (half the seal) is the main event, but the ideographic story is complex. What does the Oracle of Internet say about all this? ... I've edited the results, which I think DO provide an accurate starting point for further research.

1) The Scarab Beetle, in this context, may symbolize Protection and Divine Authority.
2) The Basilisk may serve as a talisman or Guardian figure behind the Great Warrior, but also Danger, Evil, or Chaos for the Individual.
3) The Dead Person may symbolize the defeated Individual, emphasizing his mortality, fragility of life, etc. in the face of these Terrors. The Borg tells me: "The positioning of the Dead Person behind the Great Warrior may symbolize protection or shelter provided by the Warrior figure. The Warrior, depicted as a priestly or authoritative figure, serves as a Guardian against threats represented by the Basilisk and Griffin. The Dead Person lying before the Basilisk and above the aggressive Griffin may signify the Warrior's triumph over these threats, with the Dead Person safely sheltered behind the protective figure." Also, on the 'Hierarchy of Forces': "This arrangement may symbolize the Warrior's intermediary role as a protector or mediator between mortal beings and cosmic or supernatural forces." Positioning the Dead Person behind the Great Warrior may symbolize Safety, sheltering behind the protective figure, since the Warrior, depicted as a (priestly?) Authority, serves as a guardian against Terrors (i.e. Basilisk and Griffin).
4) A Small Triangle (Spade?): Unclear.
5) A Priestly (?) Warrior, Slaying "The depiction of a Warrior figure, possibly with priestly attributes, slaying an opponent, suggests themes of strength, ... and the struggle against Evil or Chaos. The combination of priestly and warrior attributes may symbolize Divine Authority or sanctioned action." Also "a warrior figure with priestly attributes suggests a combination of religious and martial authority. This {Priestly-Warrior} likely held a position of high status within the society, perhaps serving as a religious leader or as a military commander with religious sanction. The seal may have been used to authenticate documents, assert authority, to confer blessings or protection.The depiction of the Warrior slaying the Great Serpent may symbolize the Authority's role in confronting and overcoming existential threats to the community or kingdom. This imagery reinforces the idea of the Authority as a Protector and Guardian of Order."
6) Giant Serpent, w/ Seven Heads ... {this one failed: I think its Yammu*, see below.}
7) "The Ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol representing Life, Immortality, and Divine Power. Its presence on the seal may signify blessings, protection, or divine favor. Additional symbols on the seal, such as the ankh (representing life and immortality) and the crouching Worshipper may further reinforce the Authority's religious and spiritual significance. These symbols could also indicate the Authority's role in mediating between the divine and the mortal realms, ensuring prosperity, stability, and divine favor for the community."
8) A Crouching, Worshipful Man: The depiction suggests reverence, devotion, or submission to Divine Authority.
9) A Mysterious Cherub Basilisk Creature (Heavily-Damaged), "The Griffin's presence on the seal may symbolize the Authority's divine mandate or connection to Higher Powers. The aggressive posture of the Griffin suggests a readiness to defend against threats and assert control over the territory."

This read also seems to be correct (although the last bit is phrased too optimistically, I think):
"Narrative Tension: The positioning of the figures in this arrangement could create a sense of narrative tension or conflict, with the Dead caught between the protective presence of the Warrior and lesser but looming threats represented by the Basilisk and Griffin. This arrangement may evoke themes of struggle, bravery, and the human condition in the face of adversity."

* See Rosanna Ann Lu, "The Deification and Demonization of Tĕhôm: From Deity to Deep" (Ph.D. Diss., 2018) -- Note her Appendix B, for relevant OT references in Hebrew.
4
... Ugarit’s TNN dragon6 and LTN,7 the seven-headed dragon of the sea god Yammu, 8 parallel the Hebrew Bible’s sea dragons Tannin and Leviathan.

6. LTN, the monster that collaborates with or personifies Yammu, cf. Dictionary of the Ugaritic language in the Alphabetic tradition [2004]: “ltn”, p.507.


93
Repetition emphasizes the characteristics of the slain and reminds the audience of the subjugator’s actions—Baal has defeated Yammu/the Sea and his manifestations, Naharu/Judge River and TNN (tunnanu dragon), an epithet for the twisty seven headed sea monster, LTN. As LTN/Leviathan is the “mythical monster that collaborates with or personifies the god Yamm,”196 Baal’s defeat of Yammu includes the vanquishing of the sea monster whose twisting form reflects its realm of the sea. Cross also makes the connection that this seven-headed dragon, is the sea itself: we can imagine that in Canaan as in Mesopotamia and Israel, Sea was portrayed as a seven-headed dragon, a dragon to be slain in order to establish the rule of the warrior-king of the gods.197

Additional repetitions of epithets and synonymous parallelism show that Yammu’s personifications and extensions as Naharu/River and LTN/Sea Monster ultimately represent Motu/Death.

197 Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 119-20. Elsewhere, the Hurrian god of the Sea, Kiyaši, is similarly equated with its serpent counterpart (apši), which also is closely identified with the Ugaritic Sea-dragon TNN (tannin/tunnanu), cf. Meindert Dijkstra, "The myth of apši ‘the (sea)dragon’ in the Hurrian tradition," UF 37 (2005): 320-21

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