Did Hercules Exist?

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Hercules is one of the most famous Greek heros of the ancient times, well known for his heroic achievements and his unbelievable strength. He was someone very special who at the same time was extremely ordinary, in the concept that he faced everyday problems that he had to overcome himself. Although his courageous personal traits make him famous, he was not perfect in all aspects. Hercules was born to a mortal woman by the name of Alcmene and fathered by the greatest God in Greek mythology, Zeus, making Hercules a Demi God.This idea meant that Hercules had some features that were very godly, some divine powers, but at the same time he was a mortal, meaning he could die. It is suspected, that the Greeks invented this idea because they wanted to reach the Gods as much as possible, to create images of that would deem themselves worthy to the higher divinity. Something is always hidden behind every myth so it is very probable that once, a man existed that was physically strong and made such an impression to the ancient Greek world, that a myth was created around his name. The question is, did Hercules really exist?

A major factor in the well known tragedies surrounding Hercules is the hatred that the Goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, had for him. He was the son of the affair Zeus had with the mortal woman Alcmene. The very existence proved one of Zeus’ many illicit affairs, and Hera often conspired against the mortal offspring as revenge for her husband’s infidelities. Rebecca Kennedy, student of Saint Anselm College says; “ Hera’s hatred of Hercules is irrational. It’s almost as if she knew he was going to challenge her favour in heaven in some way. She knew there was something about Hercules that was different than the other children and maybe she felt threatened by this but everyday of his life seemed to be paying for this hatred of hers.” At 8 months of age, Hera tried to kill the infant Hercules by sending two poisonous snakes placed in his crib one night. However, the infant grabbed the snakes and strangled them to death. Though Hera failed to kill Hercules, she persecuted him throughout his life, causing many of the events that led to his great suffering and punishments.

In February 2004, in a Greek town called Thebes, archaeologists uncovered evidence that sheds new light on the story of Hercules birth. There, they discovered a buried temple beneath an ordinary residential lot with its center holding the remains of an alter. Among the architectural remains, hundreds of ceramic vases, bronze vessels and statuettes were found that each portrayed images of Hercules. After the discovery, researches linked the findings to a 2500 year old text that describes a mysterious house of Hercules at Thebes, just outside the gates of the ancient city. The find is believed to mark the site of the house where the Thebans believed Hercules grew up. The description on the ancients text matched perfectly with the site and is also said that the shrine was erected on the precise spot of Hercules birth. Tom Stone, a Greek Historian suggests “Hercules is unable to form emotional contacts with anyone in fact there seems to be a kind of schizophrenic quality to his make up. He was half human and half divine. And yet he had a father who would not protect him from the terrible trials and tribulations that Hera inflicted upon him. He was left alone suspended between heaven and earth and having no where to go”

Some versions of the Hercules myth portray that his family came from a Greek settlement called Tyranids. Ancient sources suggest that it was once home to a real warrior who was renowned for his great strength and even thought to have a direct connection to the Gods. This warrior who’s name is lost in history served the ruler of a powerful kingdom called Mycenae. In the myth Hercules also serves the king of Mycenae, his cousin Eurystheus who assigns him the 12 labors. Other clues about the man behind the myth can be found at one of...
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