The ‘Pillars of Hercules’ was once the name of the narrow water passage between Europe and Africa. The modern name is the Straits of Gibraltar. A ship heading east would pass from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea. Cities of the Atlantean coast from Cadiz in Spain to Lixus in Africa traded with cities in the Mediterranean Sea. These seaports may have existed before even the Phoenicians arrived.
The tradition is that Hercules founded Cadiz, a flawed hero conceived by a god and a human. Like other heroes, Hercules found himself victim of a goddess who drove him mad causing him to kill his own children. His penance was to perform twelve heroic feats. The first was the barehanded killing of a lion, whose skin he would always be depicted with on his shoulders. Only someone with superhuman strength could have done the other labors.
Such tales can often have three distinct purposes. The reality could be that Hercules was a king or a warrior in his homeland. The tale could also be entertainment, a version that inspired people to excellence in strength and cunning. A third is a combination of both with the addition of a hidden message aimed at those who were initiated into a higher form of learning.
Hercules’ twelve labors have been compared to the adventures of Ulysses, and both were said to reveal knowledge of the stars, particularly the zodiac. A book titled Homer’s Secret Iliad said Homer identified 650 stars within 45 constellations. Hercules may have become Ulysses in Homer’s poems, wandering a wide expanse of the world. Both shared similar adventures, such as a visit to Hades, and stealing cattle.
The Trojan War
The Trojan War is said to have been fought in 1200 BC. It pitted the Greeks against the Trojans, whose home was believed to be in modern-day Turkey. The Greeks were victorious, if we put our faith in the two Homeric tales recorded 400 years after the war. Homer, the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, was believed to be a blind poet from the Greek island of Chios, which is closer to the Turkish mainland than to Athens.
But Homer was wrong. What he described as massive waves, changing tides, and raging sea was unlike any place along the Turkish coast. There were no massive waves and tides in the inlet of the straits of Bosphorus where he placed the story. The place he called Troy is about as large as a modern strip mall. There would have been no room for fifty sons and daughters to have palaces. When Alexander the Great reached the place that the locals said was Troy, he was disappointed, so he built a “Troy.” The place called Hissarlik today, that is claimed to have been Troy, might have supported a population of two to five thousand, not an army of 50,000 or a total population of 250,000.
The stories were given to Homer from the Sea Peoples of the Atlantic, to the Greeks by the Phoenicians, who also brought the alphabet to Greece. Homer then created his own history. He said that the Greeks defeated the Trojans. The Greeks, in fact, had been decimated by a war that happened circa 1200 BC. Most of their coastal cities were in complete ruins, the population having fled inland. Homer may have taken the legend of Hercules and made him into Ulysses.
The Trojans of Turkey were said to have been killed or have fled with their city in ruins, as well. The truth is, they never existed. The Hittites of Turkey who were meticulous in recording everything from trade to history never heard of them or wrote about them. Legends recall people exiled because of a great war going to England, Italy, France, and Scandinavia.
In England, Geoffrey of Monmouth said Aeneas and his son Ascanius, who had first settled in Italy before an heir named Brutus, laid claim to England. In Italy they became the Etruscans. In Scandinavia they founded Trondheim. In France the surviving Trojan King Priam settled in the north where Troyes would become a center of learning. The place called Ypres stood for Priam’s Place. The future capital Paris would be named for the man responsible for the war.
The only place that no Trojans fled to was Iberia, which was the land of Hercules. The Portuguese coast had been the scene of massive earthquakes in its history. It is more likely that such an event sent Iberian populations fleeing into the Mediterranean Sea. The Shardan settled Sardinia, the Sekelesh settled Sicily, and others went to war even in Egypt.
Europe’s oldest, continually occupied city, Cadiz, founded by Hercules, barely survived the earthquake and tsunami that followed. There was no way of estimating the number of the dead or measuring the earthquake on the Richter scale; however, Portugal suffered a massive quake in AD 412 and another in 1755. In that last quake 60,000 people were killed in six seconds. The quake destroyed seaports in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. It was felt even in Finland. The tsunami that followed had waters rushing from 120 miles away and even sweeping up rivers inland in Europe. In the other direction, the tsunamis reached the West Indies and raised the sea level in the Caribbean by three feet.
It was after 1200 BC, when the Phoenicians gained control, when they called the city Gadeira and dedicated a temple to their Hercules, whom they called Melkarth. The Iberian people had called him Ercules, and there are numerous statues to him in the parks and museums. Here myth is older than history, but the myths may tell a tale of the true ancient past.
Cadiz today has a huge causeway built out into the sea. At the end of the causeway are a walled fort and a lighthouse named for St. Sebastian. This saint was persecuted as hundreds of arrows were shot into his body. He may be the Christianized version of Ulysses, the hero of the Odyssey who, like Hercules, had been put through twelve labors or tests. At the end of his voyage, Ulysses killed the suitors of his wife with 108 arrows.
Divers looking for ancient statuary favor the waters on both sides of the causeway. Treasures have been discovered in water 85-feet deep and as far out in the sea as three-and-a-half miles.
Where Hercules Ruled
While the Greeks would spin their own version of Hercules as Heracles, the story is very similar and took place mostly in a North African—Iberian setting. Crossing the sea at the Pillars of Hercules from Spain one enters modern day Morocco. First stop is Cape Spartel where the grottoes of Hercules exist. Hercules may have rested in the caves here before he would steal golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides, one of his “labors.”
Next is Tangier believed to be founded by Antaeus who Hercules had to defeat. Antaeus had the annoying habit of picking fights with anyone who passed. He was the son of Poseidon and Mother Earth. As such his power came from the earth. As long as he touched it, his power would last until his opponent was dead. Hercules understood and held him in the air until he lost all power. Then killed him.
The Greeks had a way of claiming gods of other peoples, but even they admitted Poseidon had his kingdom not in Greece but in the Atlantic. Atlas, the god tricked into holding up the earth is remembered in Morocco as the mountains that hold up the sky. The Atlas Mountains feature in Greek mythology, although not in Greek history. This would indicate a migration of such mythology from the west.
Fifty miles south is Lixis a truly ancient port of which the Phoenicians would later take control. Rome believed it was the “eternal city” as it could not be dated. Today it is called Maquom Semes, the City of the Sun.
Men, Heroes and Gods
The wanderings of Apollo and Hercules, as well as Odysseus, may be regarded as entertaining stories. One another level they may carry detailed knowledge of the cosmos and mathematics. The Etruscan people who may have migrated from the ravaged coast of Iberia were adept in medicine, agriculture, and practical sciences as well as astronomy. They had broken down the year to 365 days, 5 hours, and 40 minutes. It is possible that Atlas, the man, represented a central location from which time, in the form of months, seasons and the year, were measured. With Atlas as the centerpoint and Hercules performing his twelve labors, it is easy to understand this as a tale that can explain the zodiac. The importance of the Atlas-center again figures in the tale of Phaeton.
Helios takes an oath to fulfill any wish of Phaeton. The impulsive son wishes only one thing—to fly the chariot of the sun across the sky. Despite his urging and finally his instruction, Helios knows it cannot turn out well. Phaeton, as expected, cannot control the horses (or stars) that pull the sun. All the constellations are thrown off kilter. The Earth itself is seared. “Atlas almost fails to balance the world’s hot axis on his shoulders.”
The way most remember the story is with the globe that is planet Earth on his shoulders. This however is improbable as he is both standing on the earth and holding it on his shoulders. The axis of the world is more understandably symbolic. Atlas is the central point of the world.
Aril was the Etruscan name for the god whom the Greeks called Atlas. The word “aril” or “ril” would mean year in the Etruscan language. Today we are just beginning to see ancient myths as tales told on more complex levels.
It is easy to accept Apollo as an important god. His name is from the Etruscan Apul. He traveled every nineteen-and-a-half years to the birthplace of his mother Leto. There on an island opposite the Celtic mainland was a sacred circle. This represents the Sun God meeting the Moon Goddess completing what is called the Metonic Cycle. The cycle represents the time it takes for the solar cycle and the lunar cycle to reconcile. This sacred circle is Stonehenge.
Like Apollo, Ulysses takes 20 years to perform his labors. At last he returns to his home with Penelope and his dog Argos.
Finally, the twelve labors of Hercules represent a trip around the Zodiac and a return to the River of Milk. The relationship between the Iberians and the Etruscans may not have been just as neighbors. There is evidence that the Etruscans came from the Atlantic coast of Portugal and Spain. Several times massive earthquakes destroyed the coast cities of Lisbon. At least one was followed by a tsunami of epic proportions. This would have been the reason that the ancient city of Troia went from a plateau to a flat beach. The people of Lisbon, Setubal, and Troia may have headed into the Mediterranean Sea to settle the area we call Tuscany.
Their fascination with the Zodiac may have been cause enough for the Etruscans to found twelve cities. They believed in the Twelve Great Gods who dwelled in the inmost recesses of heaven. These gods could not be seen nor their names uttered. Nine gods could be seen and were credited with carrying and occasionally throwing thunderbolts. Hercules not only bore a thunderbolt but carried a club as well. He had both the power of a god and the primitive aspects of man. Of the nine he was their favorite and called Ercle, or Hercle, and Hercules. With the adventures of Hercules taking place in an Atlantic/African setting, it is likely the favorite hero-god was one from the Etruscan homeland. It also becomes likely that the homeland was in the west. In the west were mythological and real places like the Hesperides (Canary Islands), the Atlas Mountains, and even Hades, possibly the Azores.
Finally, Hercules’ end comes when he is being bound to a Tau cross, beaten and blinded, and impaled with mistletoe. His blood is sprinkled on everyone present. It is a tale represented in the song of John Barleycorn. This is a tale of renewal as part of the crop cycle. A similar cycle is of the day and the year. Heracles was worshipped everywhere as the savior who died and rose again like the sun. A solar eclipse attended his death like that of Krishna, Buddha, Osiris, and Jesus. Such gods were worshipped as the undying Sun, continually dying and continually renewed.