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  1. #1
    Average Member Christopher The Great's Avatar
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    Was Hercules real?

    Hey guys, LOVE ancient history and stumbled across these forums today.

    Anyway I was thinking could Hercules been real? By real I mean a real man that was very powerful and roamed ancient Greece doing good deeds and helping city-states defeat enemies?

    I think he was a real man and his legend was told from generation to generation.

    Your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Newbie cachibatches's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    No.

    In fact, I think it is pretty well understood that the reason that he has so many tales about him is that as his popularity as a mythical figure grew, he absorbed the exploits of other, now forgotten heroes.

  3. #3
    Average Member Christopher The Great's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by cachibatches View Post
    No.

    In fact, I think it is pretty well understood that the reason that he has so many tales about him is that as his popularity as a mythical figure grew, he absorbed the exploits of other, now forgotten heroes.
    So you are saying there is NO chance a man in very early Greek times named Hercules roamed the land?

    I'm not sure...

    In no way am I saying he was a demigod or anything, I am just saying there very could have been a real man that created the myths.

  4. #4
    Newbie cachibatches's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher The Great View Post
    So you are saying there is NO chance a man in very early Greek times named Hercules roamed the land?

    I'm not sure...

    In no way am I saying he was a demigod or anything, I am just saying there very could have been a real man that created the myths.
    I know of no historical source. Perhaps I am wrong.

  5. #5
    Average Member Christopher The Great's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Don't quote me on this but I think Herodotus was quoted saying "Hercules lived 900 years before the battle of battle of Thermopylae"

  6. #6
    Newbie The Imperator's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    It's possible that the Hercules legend is based on a single source, it being a conglomeration of various legends is far more likely.

  7. #7
    Newbie cachibatches's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher The Great View Post
    Don't quote me on this but I think Herodotus was quoted saying "Hercules lived 900 years before the battle of battle of Thermopylae"
    Herodotus talked a lot of nonsense. Great, great read. The most pure fun of all of the ancient historians. But he quoted a lot of myth and made a lot of stuff up.

  8. #8
    Average Member Christopher The Great's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Imperator View Post
    It's possible that the Hercules legend is based on a single source, it being a conglomeration of various legends is far more likely.
    What do you mean by this?

    Quote Originally Posted by cachibatches View Post
    Herodotus talked a lot of nonsense. Great, great read. The most pure fun of all of the ancient historians. But he quoted a lot of myth and made a lot of stuff up.
    So what are your views on the battle of Thermopylae?

  9. #9
    Newbie The Imperator's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher The Great View Post
    What do you mean by this?

    Basically what Cachibatches said. Hercules probably started out as a single myth and did a couple of things. Eventually, as he grew more and more popular, he assimilated other myths and eventually became the figure we know today.

  10. #10
    Newbie PM96's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    If Hercules was a real person, than the myths were very very loosely based on true stories.

  11. #11
    Newbie Lowell2's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    ok serious:Person or persons named Heracles (Greek as opposed to Roman) see Heracles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Son of a god, etc? nope. child was originally given the name Alcides by his parents? plausible. member of the House of Perseus? plausible if one accepts that Perseus was a real person who became a king. born a twin? plausible.

    kills music teacher with a lyre? (well a lot of kids probably at least had the thought of doing this) thereafter did a stint as a cattle herd? yes. children were often used as cattle herds up through the middle ages. Marries a kings' daughter and later kills her and his kids in a fit of madness? possible. Trying to blame it on Hera? -- I suppose one could consider that this is the Greek equivalent of saying "I heard voices" in an insanity plea.

    As part of a plea bargain, he goes off on some 12 labors.
    Nemean lion: (prior to 100 BC when when they were extinct in Greece) kills off a predatory lion. Let's say it is the ancient Greek equivalent of the Tsavo maneaters. Plausible. Using a club? risky but possible. shooting it with arrows? plausible.

    Lernaean Hydra -- from the description this could be based on a trip to a shrine where noxious gases exist. (Delphi was one such. Lerna was a region of springs and a former lake near the east coast of the Peloponnesus, south of Argos. Its site near the village Mili at the Argolic Gulf is most famous as the lair of the Lernaean Hydra,). This gets transmogrified into shooting arrows and "killing the hydra". One is reminded of Caligula ordering a legion to shoot arrows into the sea and claiming to have defeated Neptune. Caligula was probably familiar with the legend of Hercules.


    and so forth. Once one person with the name gets famous, the exploits of others gets tagged on over time.

  12. #12
    Average Member Christopher The Great's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lowell2 View Post
    ok serious:Person or persons named Heracles (Greek as opposed to Roman) see Heracles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Son of a god, etc? nope. child was originally given the name Alcides by his parents? plausible. member of the House of Perseus? plausible if one accepts that Perseus was a real person who became a king. born a twin? plausible.

    kills music teacher with a lyre? (well a lot of kids probably at least had the thought of doing this) thereafter did a stint as a cattle herd? yes. children were often used as cattle herds up through the middle ages. Marries a kings' daughter and later kills her and his kids in a fit of madness? possible. Trying to blame it on Hera? -- I suppose one could consider that this is the Greek equivalent of saying "I heard voices" in an insanity plea.

    As part of a plea bargain, he goes off on some 12 labors.
    Nemean lion: (prior to 100 BC when when they were extinct in Greece) kills off a predatory lion. Let's say it is the ancient Greek equivalent of the Tsavo maneaters. Plausible. Using a club? risky but possible. shooting it with arrows? plausible.

    Lernaean Hydra -- from the description this could be based on a trip to a shrine where noxious gases exist. (Delphi was one such. Lerna was a region of springs and a former lake near the east coast of the Peloponnesus, south of Argos. Its site near the village Mili at the Argolic Gulf is most famous as the lair of the Lernaean Hydra,). This gets transmogrified into shooting arrows and "killing the hydra". One is reminded of Caligula ordering a legion to shoot arrows into the sea and claiming to have defeated Neptune. Caligula was probably familiar with the legend of Hercules.


    and so forth. Once one person with the name gets famous, the exploits of others gets tagged on over time.
    Good info.

    All I am saying is do you believe there was a man about 1300 BC that did such great deeds and possessed such power that his name was told from generation to generation?

  13. #13
    Newbie Lowell2's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher The Great View Post
    Good info.

    All I am saying is do you believe there was a man about 1300 BC that did such great deeds and possessed such power that his name was told from generation to generation?
    I think it's quite possible that there was a man / men who had the name (or claimed it) that were impressive enough to the locals that their story got told over the generations. Other people and claims get folded in, the various stories get garbled or changed (the 4 foot long fish morphs into the 10 foot long fish and eventually becomes a 20 foot shark). I class "Hercules" as in the same category as "Robin Hood" (there were one or two people with similar names, there were robbers in the woods, there was some dissatisfaction with how the king (or John) was running things -- which lead up to the Magna Carta), archery was a prized skill..... But there never was an Errol Flynn type fellow striving to help Richard I).

  14. #14
    Newbie Moros's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    Herodotus tells us about two or more different men/gods called Heracles - the Greek one, an older Egyptian one, the Scythian one and the Phoenician one.

  15. #15
    Jr. Member Micheal Weston's Avatar
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    Re: Was Hercules real?

    It's likely that there is some truth to it. Throughout years, what was one story about this legend started to expand.

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