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Etruscan, Latin, Hercle, Lesbos, Ercole, Tereco, Hercules


Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures.


The Romans adapted the Greek hero's iconography and myths for their literature and art under the name Hercules. In later Western art and literature and in popular culture, Hercules is more commonly used than Heracles as the name of the hero. Hercules was a multifaceted figure with contradictory characteristics, which enabled later artists and writers to pick and choose how to represent him. This article provides an introduction to representations of Hercules in the later tradition. The Latin name Hercules was borrowed through Etruscan, where it is represented variously as Heracle, Hercle, and other forms. Hercules was a favorite subject for Etruscan art, and appears often on bronze mirrors.



The Etruscan form Herceler derives from the Greek Heracles via syncope. A mild oath invoking Hercules (Hercule! or Mehercle!) was a common interjection in Classical Latin. Hercules had a number of myths that were distinctly Roman.


One of these is Hercules' defeat of Cacus, who was terrorizing the countryside of Rome. The hero was associated with the Aventine Hill through his son Aventinus. Mark Antony considered him a personal patron god, as did the emperor Commodus.


Hercules received various forms of religious veneration, including as a deity concerned with children and childbirth, in part because of myths about his precocious infancy, and in part because he fathered countless children.


Roman brides wore a special belt tied with the "knot of Hercules", which was supposed to be hard to untie. The comic playwright Plautus presents the myth of Hercules' conception as a sex comedy in his play Amphitryon; Seneca wrote the tragedy Hercules Furens about his bout with madness. During the Roman Imperial era, Hercules was worshipped locally from Hispania through Gaul.




The remaining population is distributed in small towns and villages. The largest are Plomari, Kalloni, the Gera Villages, Agiassos, Eresos, and Molyvos (the ancient Mythimna). According to later Greek writers, Mytilene was founded in the 11th century BC by the family Penthilidae, who arrived from Thessaly, and ruled the city-state until a popular revolt (590–580 BC) led by Pittacus of Mytilene ended their rule.


Minoan Coin

Second Task: Hercules Vs Hydra. The details of the struggle are explicit in the Bibliotheca: realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help.


His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. Seeing that Heracles was winning the struggle, Hera sent a large crab to distract him.


He crushed it under his mighty foot. The Hydra's one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to Heracles by Athena. Heracles placed the head—still alive and writhing—under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius, and dipped his arrows in the Hydra's poisonous blood. Thus his second task was complete.


The alternate version of this myth is that after cutting off one head he then dipped his sword in its neck and used its venom to burn each head so it could not grow back. Hera, upset that Heracles had slain the beast she raised to kill him, placed it in the dark blue vault of the sky as the constellation Hydra.


She then turned the crab into the constellation Cancer. Heracles would later use arrows dipped in the Hydra's poisonous blood to kill other foes during his remaining labors, such as Stymphalian Birds and the giant Geryon. He later used one to kill the centaur Nessus; and Nessus' tainted blood was applied to the Tunic of Nessus, by which the centaur had his posthumous revenge. Both Strabo and Pausanias report that the stench of the river Anigrus in Elis, making all the fish of the river inedible, was reputed to be due to the Hydra's poison, washed from the arrows Heracles used on the centaur.


When Eurystheus, the agent of Hera who was assigning The Twelve Labors to Heracles, found out that it was Heracles' nephew Iolaus who had handed Heracles the firebrand, he declared that the labor had not been completed alone and as a result did not count towards the 10 labors set for him. The mythic element is an equivocating attempt to resolve the submerged conflict between an ancient ten labors and a more recent twelve.


Ercole and Tereco Fresco

In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves.


The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged. Alcmene was born to Electryon, king of Mycenae and a son of Perseus. Her mother was either  Anaxo, daughter of Alcaeus and Astydamia, or Lysidice, daughter of Pelops and Hippodameia.


Hesiod describes Alcmene as the tallest, most beautiful woman with wisdom surpassed by no person born of mortal parents. It is said that her face and dark eyes were as charming as Aphrodite's, and that she honoured her husband like no woman before her. She was the great-granddaughter of Zeus. Bottom left: Etruscan Vase 325 B.C.E., and bottom right Etruscan Terracotta 600 B.C.E. Top left: Ercole and Tereco 50 – 79 B.C.E., fresco in Naples, National Archaeological Museum in the Greek Mythology Telefo (the Child) is the son of Eracle (Heracles) and Auge, daughter of the  king Tegea, Alio. Top Right: Vercingetorix


One of the last, or perhaps the last, of the original Black civilizations to be destroyed by the Romans, was the Arverni of southern France. They were an advanced culture who lived in cities and were wealthy in gold and silver, (as attested to by the huge booty taken from them by the Romans).


Their demise came about because of a revolt against Rome by another Black Gaul city called "Carnutes". In early 52 B.C, Carnutes used the turmoil that accompanied the death of Publius Clodius Pulcher; a Roman politician, as an opportunity to rebell; they slaughtered all of the Romans in their territory. Seeing this, "Vercingetorix" a young nobleman of the Arvernian capital city of Gergovia, moved to join the rebellion. He was however rebuffed by the nobles of Gergovia, forcing him to raise an army in the countryside. He then returned to Gergovia and took the city, whereupon he was declared king. In most historical accounts, it is said that Vercingetorix unified all of the Gaul's under his command. In his campaign against Julius Caesar, Vercingetorix was at first successful, but over time, the tide began to turn.


Black, Gaul, Vercingetorix, Arverni, Carnutes, Gergovia,




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The end came at the Battle of Alesia, the capital city of another of the Black Gaul people, the Mandubii.  At Alesia, Vercingetorix made his last stand. Caesar instead of making a direct assault surrounded the city with fortifications in order to starve them out.


When Vercingetorix sent for reinforcements, Caesar built another set of fortifications to his rear, to hold back the reinforcements.


When the reinforcements arrived, they were of insufficient number to break through Caesars line. After many loosing battles to break out, Vercingetorix was forced to mount his horse, ride out and surrender to Caesar.


Vercingetorix was taken prisoner and imprisoned in the Tullianum in Rome for five years, before being publicly displayed in Caesar's triumph in 46 B.C, after which he was executed.


Greek Youth


Top Greek Youth 100 B.C.E.


Gergovia, Alesia, and all the other Black Gaullic cities were destroyed, and their people killed or displaced.


The destruction was so complete that at this time, the only known evidence of their existence is Roman coins, (such as the one above), and written Roman accounts.


Such was the respect these leaders inspired in the hearts of their enemies, that royal crests and coats-of-arms in Europe were emblazoned with Moorish heads.