Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11

March 11th was a day sacred to Hercules.

n their popular culture the Romans adopted the Etruscan Hercle, a hero-figure that had already been influenced by Greek culture — especially in the conventions of his representation — but who had experienced an autonomous development. Etruscan Hercle appears in the elaborate illustrative engraved designs on the backs of Etruscan bronze mirrors made during the fourth century BC, which were favoured grave goods. Their specific literary references have been lost, with the loss of all Etruscan literature, but the image of the mature, bearded Hercules suckling atUni/Juno's breast, engraved on a mirror back from Volterra, is distinctively Etruscan. This Hercle/Hercules — the Hercle of the interjection "Mehercle!" — remained a popular cult figure in the Roman legions.
The literary Greek versions of his exploits were appropriated by literate Romans from the 2nd century BCE onwards, essentially unchanged, but Latin literature of Hercules added anecdotal detail of its own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Western Mediterranean. Details of the Greek cult, which mixed chthonic libations and uneaten holocausts with Olympian services, were adapted to specifically Roman requirements as well, as Hercules became the founding figure of Herculaneum and other places, and his cult became entwined with Imperial cult, as shown in surviving frescoes in the Herculanean collegium. His altar has been dated to the 5th or 6th century BC. It stood near the Temple of Hercules Victor. Hercules became popular with merchants, who customarily paid him a tithe of their profits.
Marcus Antonius identified himself with Hercules, and even invented a son of Hercules, calledAnton, from whom Antonius claimed descent. In response, his enemy Octavianus identified withApollo. Some early emperors, such as Trajan, took up the attributes of Hercules, and laterRoman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, went further and often identified or compared themselves with him and supported his cult; Maximianus styled himself "Herculius". The cult of Hercules spread through the Roman world. In their gardens, wealthy Romans would often build altars to Hercules, who was regarded as the benefactor of mankind.[5] In Roman Egypt, what is believed to be the remains of a Temple of Hercules are found in the Bahariya Oasis.
The Romans adopted the myths of Heracles including his twelve labors, essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking Hercules with the geography of the Western Mediterranean.
In Roman mythologyAcca Larentia was Hercules' mistress. She was married to Tarutius, a wealthy merchant. When he died, she gave his money to charity. In another version, she was the wife of Faustulus.
In Aeneid 8.195ff, Virgil relates a myth about Hercules' defeating the monstrous Cacus, who lived in a cave under the Palatine Hill (one of the eventual Seven Hills of Rome).

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