The First Six Labors of Herakles, from the West Side of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, ca. 450 BC
Restored in Color by Holmes Bryant Based on the Physical Evidence.
All Twelve Labors Chronicle and Celebrate Mankind's Rebellion against Noah and His God after the Flood.
West Side Labor One
THE NEMEAN LION
Herakles, the Nimrod of Genesis transplanted to Greek soil,
began what was originally a scriptural mandate to subject all the animals
of the land, sea, and air (Genesis 9:2-3) by stalking the ferocious king
of the beasts, the lion of Nemea. When Herakles' arrows bounced off the
beast, he realized it was invulnerable to weapons. Herakles met the animal
face to face and strangled it with his bare hands.
Herakles dressed himself in the pelt, with the lion's head serving as a kind of hood. Artists used his lion pelt and his club, as in the vase-depiction, to identify him in vase-scenes and in sculpture. He killed the king of the beasts using only his courage, his mind, and his hands as weapons; and thenceforth, he boasted of possessing the leonine powers with which he terrified and stalked his enemies.
On the metope, Athena and Hermes stand by the victorious Herakles. He has subdued the king of the land beasts to themthe reborn serpent-friendly Eve, and the chief prophet of Zeus-religion. By the time he has completed all 12 labors, Zeus-religion will rule the Greek world and its future. Athena and Hermes look to Herakles/Nimrod as the hero and king of humanity who, through his conquests and labors, restores the serpent's system, and brings back the way of Kain after the Flood.
West Side Labor Two
THE LERNAEAN HYDRA
The Hydra, a vicious sea creature, the half-sister of the lion of Nemea, bred in the lake of Lerna, went forth into the plain and ravaged the cattle and the countryside. The Hydra had a huge body, with nine heads, eight mortal, but the middle one supposedly immortal. On the vase-depiction, from about 500 BC, we see Herakles and his nephew Iolaüs, cutting off the Hydra's mortal heads and searing the necks with fire. A large crab attacks Herakles' legs, but Athena, again supplying the key religious connection, is there to see to it that the hero prevails over any and all sea monsters.
The sculptors of the metope did not have room for all the figures and so chose to depict only Herakles and the Hydra on it. The average Greek knew the rest of the story.
So far Herakles has subdued the king of the land animals and the most dangerous of the sea animals. In his next labor, he will subdue the most vicious of the fowl of the air.
West Side Labor Three
THE STYMPHALIAN BIRDS
Razor-beaked, man-eating birds ravaged the region surrounding Lake Stymphalos in Arcadia. To help Herakles kill the birds, Hephaistos (the deified Kain) made bronze castanets for him. By clashing these on a mountain above the lake, he spooked the birds. Once they were airborne, he shot them with his slingshot, as in the vase-scene. It was easy to show him killing the birds on vases, but next to impossible in sculpture. The metope shows him instead presenting the dead birds to Athena.
Athena protects Herakles when he kills the lion, the Hydra, and the Stymphalian birds. Thus, the mastery of "every living animal" is not only his, but herswith the exception of the serpent, who masters her, and all who look to her instead of looking to Noah and his God, as the true source of wisdom.
The serpent is the one animal that Herakles does not subject to his rule. Instead of ruling over the serpent as per Yahweh's instructions in Genesis 9:1-3, Herakles welcomes the serpent's enlightenment, and subjects himselt to the serpent's power.
West Side Labor Four
THE CRETAN BULL
In the first three labors, the sculptors have told us about the subjection of the animals of the land, sea, and air to Heraklesa devotee to Hermes, Athena, and Zeus-religion. In the next two labors, the Cretan Bull and the Kerynitian Stag, the artists tell us how quickly Herakles spread Zeus-religion from the island of Crete throughout the Greek world.
As the "father of gods and men" and a picture of the original Adam, Zeus is humanity's most significantly fertile ancestor. Artists chose an animal known for its fertility to represent him and the spread of his religionthe bull. Some time after Noah's Flood, in the city of Tyre, Europa, daughter of the king, caught the eye of Zeus. He transformed himself into a bull and carried her across the Mediterranean Sea, as in the vase-depiction, to Crete where she gave birth to several Zeus-religion enthusiasts, thereby establishing on that island the earliest foundations of Greek civilization, and European civilization as well.
Herakles brought that same bull, symbolizing Zeus and Zeus-religion, from Crete to mainland Greece, and ultimately released it to go where it would. On the metope, Herakles' club is not raised against the bull, but rather against anyone who would interfere with his spreading of Zeus-religion. How swiftly all this occurred is the subject of Herakles' next labor, the Kerynitian Stag.
West Side Labor Five
THE KERYNITIAN STAG
If you have ever seen a stag on the move, you know how swift they are. It took Herakles over a year to run down the Kerynitian Stag as it ranged all over Greece. The previous labor speaks of the spread of Zeus-religion as symbolized by the bull. This labor is directly related and speaks to how rapidly that happened. In the vase-scene, Athena is there to assist Herakles with his capture of the Kerynitian Stag. Herakles wears the lion's head from his first labor. Athena wears her serpent-trimmed aegis, or goat-skin, a symbol of her authority. On the front of her aegis, she wore the head of the Gorgon Medusa, the head of serpents, yet another symbol of her devotion to the serpent and the serpent's system.
West Side Labor Six
Now Herakles, for the first time, meets serious human opposition to the rapid spread of Zeus-religion, and it comes from women, not men. Chapter 10 of The Parthenon Code presents a red-figure vase from about 490 BC by an artist named Kleophrades. In a series of panels, he tells the story of how Noah's daughters became the Amazons. First, they become outraged as the Zeus-worshipper, Peleus, abducts their sister, Thetis. Then, when they run to their father, Nereus/Noah, and demand that he take action, he just sits there. Then, taking matters into their own hands, they arm themselves and become the Amazons. Next, they advance against Herakles, the leader of the rebellion against their father. But then Herakles, as shown on the vase and the metope, kills the leader of the Amazons, Hippolyte, ending the threat to the growth of Zeus-religion. Note that the next Amazon to advance against Herakles on the vase has a Kentaur on her shield, identifying her as part of the line of Seth.
On the metope, Herakles takes from Hippolyte her belt, a symbol of the source of her authority. She had received the belt from Ares, the Greek version of Seth. Again and again, in many different ways, Greek artists celebrated the victory of the way of Kain over the way of Seth.
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