What is the story of Hercules and Antaeus?
I have always loved Greek marble statue artworks because there is a very interesting Greek mythological story behind every piece of sculpture. Whenever I see a famous figure statue, I always look up the background and story about the figure. Therefore, I also learned a lot of Greek mythology and legends from these statues. This also got me hooked on Greek mythology stories.
So when I saw this marble Hercules and Antaeus sculpture, it was also the beginning of my understanding of the story of Hercules and Antaeus.
Who is Hercules?
Hercules is one of the most famous Greco-Roman legends. In classical mythology, Hercules is known for his strength and countless adventures. Traditionally, Hercules was the son of Zeus and Perseus’ granddaughter, Alcmene. Zeus vowed to make the next son of the House of Perseus the ruler of Greece. But through the trickery of Zeus’ jealous wife Hera, another child, Euristeo, was born first and became king. Heracles grew up to both serve Eurystheus and to suffer Hera’s vengeful persecution; his first merit was to strangle the two snakes she sent to kill him in his cradle.
Who is Antaeus?
In Greek sources, he was the half-giant son of Poseidon and Gaia, living in the Libyan desert inland. His wife was the goddess Tinger, after whom the Moroccould city of Tangier was named, and he had a daughter named Alces or Bassac.
Antaeus would challenge all passers-by to wrestling, and as long as he stays connected to his mother Earth, he would remain invincible. In Greek wrestling, the opponent needs to be pinned to the ground to win the match, while Antaeus always wins, killing his opponent every time. He used their skulls to build a temple for his father.
The Story of Hercules and Antaeus:
Hercules went to Hesperides’ garden to buy golden apples. The Libyan giant Antaeus, who is said to have invincible power, launched a wrestling match against Hercules. As a hero, Hercules accepted. Hercules repeatedly threw Antaeus to the ground, but to no avail. Because Antares is able to strengthen his strength, even more, when he touches the ground.
Hercules eventually remembered that Gaia was the mother of Antaeus and also Earth. She is the source of his strength. Hercules came up with an idea and tested his theory. He lifted Antaeus away from the ground until all his strength was exhausted. Eventually, Antaeus died. After killing Antaeus, Hercules returned to his original mission of retrieving the Golden Apple for King Eurystheus.
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