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A Journey Through Greek Mythology

by Brendon Schumacker

Welcome to My Greek Mythology Series.

I started this illustration series in 2017 and completed it in November of 2019. It ended up taking much longer than expected. I found myself spending an enormous amount of time wrapping my head around these complex stories.

Now I am noticing Greek Mythology all over the place. The names of Gods and Heroes are embedded everywhere you look. The stories and their archetypes are also to be found everywhere. It's overwhelming to think that ancient civilizations had such rich knowledge available to them.

Each illustration has a description and notes beneath, I recommend doing a bit of reading because it enhances the whole experience.

Donate & Support

The following online book is free but I hope you can donate to support my efforts. You can also purchase prints - shop links available on each page.

Gegenees vs. The Argonauts

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Feb 2017
Updated:
Nov 2019

The Myth

Within the Propontis (The Sea of Marmara), there was a steep sloping island.
Here lived a fierce and lawless tribe of natives who had been born with 6 arms each.
These monsters were the Gegenees.
The people of Doliones shared this territory with the Gegenees but were not bothered by the monsters.
Poeseidon, the god of the sea, protected the Doliones.
One day, the Doliones people and their king, Kyzikos, welcomed Jason and the Argonauts as they traveled through this area during their famous journey.
On the first morning of their stay, the Argonauts wanted a better look of the sea ahead of them and so they dared the mountains which divided them from the Gegenees.
The Gegenees were savage, they fought with Jason and the Argonauts to block their way, and to trap them to their doom.
It just so happened that Heracles was here at this time and he lept to duty, shooting down so many of the Gegenees monsters with his mighty bow.
The rest of the Gegenees were left for the Argonauts to deal with.
The Argonauts finished the Gegenees and left them as feed to the birds and fish of the ocean.
It is speculated that Hera and Zeus inspired these beasts as an extra labour for Heracles.

My Notes

This was my very first illustration for this series and I wasn't quite sure what to do at first. I looked through a long list of various Greek Myths and I wanted to choose something very unique and interesting, while still vaguely recognizeable. This would set the tone for the rest of the series - so as to say: "This isn't just another Zeus or Hercules event." And the Gegenees proved to be a fair chose to set us apart from that.

I knew very little about Greek Mythology going into this series. I had heard of "Jason and the Argonauts" but I didn't know much about them. So it was a pleasant surprise. I had found the Gegenees by sorts of "picking from a hat" at random draw, and now I got to learn a bit about Jason and the Argonauts to boot! But wait! Heracles is involved too? Well all the better then, I suppose! :) I am new to all of this, so let it rain!

THUS. A new premise was also established very early on in this illustration series. I learned that it would be much more complicated than I originally thought, and I learned quickly that all of the myths have a tendency to intertwine. This was good news in the long run because I learned a lot and it was all incredibly facinating. But I can't neglect the truth - that it was also a bit daunting as well.

I am not a scholar of Greek Mythology, but throughout my years of illustration I have learned something. "If you are going to portray a story, do it accurately." And this is a pretty tough bar to hold with Greek Mythology, because the stories have many variations depending on which version you hold, and obviously it can be highly subject to interpretation and cultural difference, or even personal biases.

In the end I put together the best of all the information I could find and rested upon what I found to be both reasonable and universal. The results of course, are the above illustration.

Reference

It seems most of the knowledge on this myth comes from The Argonautica, which is the story of Jason and The Argonauts. I found some translated reference from Gutenberg at this link, and the specific paragraph copied below.

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/830/830-h/830-h.htm

(ll. 936-960) There is a lofty island inside the Propontis, a short distance from the Phrygian mainland with its rich cornfields, sloping to the sea, where an isthmus in front of the mainland is flooded by the waves, so low does it lie. And the isthmus has double shores, and they lie beyond the river Aesepus, and the inhabitants round about call the island the Mount of Bears. And insolent and fierce men dwell there, Earthborn, a great marvel to the neighbours to behold; for each one has six mighty hands to lift up, two from his sturdy shoulders, and four below, fitting close to his terrible sides. And about the isthmus and the plain the Doliones had their dwelling, and over them Cyzicus son of Aeneus was king, whom Aenete the daughter of goodly Eusorus bare. But these men the Earthborn monsters, fearful though they were, in nowise harried, owing to the protection of Poseidon; for from him had the Doliones first sprung. Thither Argo pressed on, driven by the winds of Thrace, and the Fair haven received her as she sped. There they cast away their small anchorstone by the advice of Tiphys and left it beneath a fountain, the fountain of Artaeie; and they took another meet for their purpose, a heavy one; but the first, according to the oracle of the Far-Darter, the Ionians, sons of Neleus, in after days laid to be a sacred stone, as was right, in the temple of Jasonian Athena.

Charon - The Ferryman to Hades

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Oct 2017

Updated:
Feb 2019

The Myth

In Ancient Greece people were believed to go to Hades (the underworld) after they died.
To travel to Hades, one would seek passage upon Charon's skiff.
Charon would take the dead across The River Styx to the gates of Hades.
Hades is also the name of the god of the underworld, and Charon served him.
In order to take passage upon Charon's skiff one must pay with a coin.
Thus a coin was often put in the mouth of the dead in Greek culture, to pay Charon.
Those who died without a coin to pay Charon would not make it to the afterlife.
Such people were believed to wander the shores for 100 years, or haunt the world in their afterlife.

My Notes

In this illustration study, things get much deeper, and I found it incredibly interesting. I can recall often seeing people put coins on the eyes of the dead in movies, books, art and other random cultural references. Is this where that superstition originates from? I would say there must be some relevance.

During my research I also found the entire concept of "Hades" to be fascinating. In today's Western world we often use the word Hades as a synonym for "Hell". But my reading in Greek Mythology did not bring me to this conclusion, outside of the fact that they share the letter "H". All of my reading lead me to believe that Hades was nothing in the sort of Hell at all! In fact some scholars seem to suggest that Hades even had nicer places of dwelling for people who could afford it, or perhaps people who were simply deemed worthy. All of this bares a stricking similarity to Christianity's "heaven and hell", but without any of the emphasis on morality.

It should come as no surprise that when we study Greek Mythology we are bound to find many elements which are regarded as superstition by today's philosophical standards. So it seems irresistible to think that this Greek Myth was a sort of foundational superstition which later evolved into the concept of Heaven and Hell. BUT. With that observation, you also have to keep in mind that the people of this time did not have the same moral goals in correlation with their belief of Hades. Not yet anyway.

So to correctly understand Hades it seems it would be more proper to say "It is the place you go after you die." Period. And with that being established, some conversation seemed to be in debate as to what the conditions might be in this afterlife. Is it pleasant there? Is it a fair place? Do they have good food? These ideas might seem silly in today's society, but they seem perfectly valid to me for the circumstances and knowledge of the times in Ancient Greece.

Now in my imagination, and also per some of my reading, it seems clear that people would question the status of different people and their lifestyles in the afterlife of Hades. If we conclude that there are nicer houses, and lesser houses, then who gets to sleep in which? And why?

So would it be so strange to assume that this conversation ensued for a great many generations, and thus evovled into the modern concept of Heaven and Hell? Or otherwise, have these ideas somehow been related all along throughout the history of humanity? If nothing else, at least we are seeing uncirmcumstantial evidence that people shared a common belief in an afterlife. And so if we "sift the sands" a bit, I think there are many clear developments in beliefs which grew from Hades - and grew all the way to beliefs of the modern world.

In the background of my illustration above you can see a great figure in the background before a gate. That is the gate to Hades, and the figure above is my representation of the god Hades himself. Hades is often portrayed with a conicopia and a staff. As ruler of the underworld Hades was also known to be the God of agriculture and mineral and spiritual wealth. so it wasn't just that he was a ruler of some magical afterworld, it was to say that he was the master of Things Beneath the Earth - which for our purposes here - also would include the dead who have been burried.

I feel as though of these cultural gems are very important to the understanding of our belief systems. Whether they be superstition or not, they influence us to this day and I keep seeing trends which suggest that all of our knowledge has grown, ever so slowly, with a combination of our superstitions and philosophy.

Reference

Ironically... Charon is a relatively light-hearted subject to study in comparison to many of the more in-depth subjects which one can follow. I found these links to be useful in my research.

https://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Kharon.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charon

Chiron and Achilles

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Dec 2017

Updated:
Nov 2019

The Myth

Chiron was an immortal centaur, half-man and half-horse.
Chiron was the son of Chronus, the great Titan, and the Oceanid Philyra.
Unlike most centaurs who are known for debauchery, Chiron was a very wise and talented being, and a teacher to many.
His matters of expertise included medicine, music, and archery.
As a great teacher, Chiron is noted for instructing many famous heroes such as Heracles, Achilles, and Jason of "Jason and the Argonauts".
Chiron is the character seen in the constellation Sagittarius (or Centaurus).
Heracles is held responsible for having poisoned Chiron which led to his death.
Heracles accidentally fired a poison arrow at Chiron during battle.
Although Chiron was immortal, he could not be cured of the poison.
He request of Zeus to denounce his immortality to end his own suffering.
Zeus granted Chiron's wish and made him into the constellation Sagittaurius.

My Notes

The myth of Chiron seems beautiful to me. There was not much very deep or spiritual in my research for this, but I settled on looking for a sort of romantic scene full of symbolism. If you are familiar with the constellation Sagittarius you can find it in the sky just above Charon's shoulder. Chiron is holding a lute in his hand which is the instrument he is often portrayed to be holding while teaching Achilles.

He is preaching, and Achilles sits patiently behind him, resting on a rock by the lake. The moon is full and a ceremonious bonfire is lit. In the smoke of the fire you can see ominous spirits rising above the flames. Behind Achilles in the tree lurks a snake. The poison which later kills Chiron is said to have come from a Hydra slain by Heracles, so the snake is a symbol of the poison in forshadowing.

Ladon of Hesperides

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Jan 2018

Updated:
Nov 2019

The Myth

Ladon was a serpent-like monster which protected the golden apples in the Garden of Hesperides.
Hesperides is also the name of the nymphs who helped look after the garden and its apples.
When Zues and Hera were married, the golden apples were brought as a gift by Gaia (Mother Earth).
Thus the Hesperides garden and its apples were among the expansive gardens of Hera.
The Hesperides nymphs are also known as "nymphs of evening" or "nymphs of twilight".
The golden apples of Hesperides were said to offer immortality to anyone who ate them.
One of Heracles labors was to take a golden apple (or all of them) from the Garden of Hesperides.
Heracles slayed the dragon and took the apple(s) to fulfill his labor.
Later, when Jason and the Argonauts passed by, they found the monsters body lay dead.

My Notes

This myth was tough to portray accurately because the facts are all over the place, both literally and figuratively. I literally had to bounce all over to various websites to gather all of my data, and figuratively speaking the legend has many subtle variations. In some cases there should only be 3 nymphs, but in other cases 4 or 7 is acceptable. I decided upon 4 so as to fill the scene in more. The dragon can also vary, from a simple snake wrapped around a tree, to a hundred-headed dragon to survey the whole garden.

But the purpose behind all of these elements is relatively consistent. The nymphs are there to look after the garden. The dragon is there to protect the apples. In some cases even the nymphs could not be trusted with the apples, and so the dragon Ladon was the final word in the defense of the golden apples.

Once again, some ideas blew my mind away while working on this illustration. The thought of "Adam and Eve" came into play. In the story of Adam and Eve there is a snake in a tree, and the tree is an apple tree. The apples of the tree are very special, because they offer a great power to anyone who eats from the apple. These generalizations work for both Adam and Eve as well as the myth of Ladon and Hesperides. Obviously there is some distintion between the two stories, but the similarities are worth noting.

Apples have always been held in high regard as a very healthy fruit, and I'm sure we can all agree that apples have held a place in Western culture for a very long time. So the symbolism of apples and their power must run deep in our culture. The same can be said for trees... and also dragons. In recent years I have been listening to Jordan Peterson and his work on archetypes. He describes a dragon as the symbol of all things which man feared in the wild. "Snakes, Fire, Eagles, Monster" all wrapped into one. So what started as a "drawing of a tree dragon" turned into something much more after some research and deep thought.

The Hesperides nyphs also influence the composition of this illustration heavily. The nymphs are often referred to as "The Nymphs of the Evening" or "The Nymphs of Twilight". In my imagination they are living in a perpetual state somewhere between day and night. I didn't know how to portray this exactly, but a stary sky is usually a beautiful thing to look at, and so are sunsets. So I tried to capture both of these together in the same scene.

Reference

I had to jump around a lot for this one. It was hard to get the full story from one location because some people might put emphasis on the origins of the garden, where others might emphasize the labor of Heracles. It's all important for me, so I scraped the web for everything I could find.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladon_(mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesperides
https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Monsters/Ladon/ladon.html
https://www.theoi.com/Ther/DrakonHesperios.html

Daedalus

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Feb 2018

Updated:
Sep 2019

The Myth

Daedalus was a great artist and inventor.
His most famous achievement was the Minotaur's Labyrinth.
He is also known for crafting wings which enabled him and his son to fly.
The Minotaur was a monster with a bull's head and a man's body.
The Minotaur was created through the will of Poseidon as a punishment to King Minos for sacrificing the wrong bull.
The Minotaur was unnatural and feasted on humans as prey.
King Minos appointed Daedalus to create the labyrinth in order to trap the Minotaur, and he would send human sacrifices to the Minotaur's Labyrinth every nine years.
King Minos then trapped Daedalus and his son in a high tower to keep the secret of his labyrinth from getting out.
He would also use Daedalus to craft inventions for him.
Daedalus managed to craft a set of wings out of bird feathers and wax for both himself and his son to escape.
Legend says that Daedalus warned his son Icarus not to fly too low because the wet sea would ruin his feathers, and also not to fly too high because the hot sun would melt the wax which found the featers.
But Icarus did not listen, he flew too high, his wings melted, and he fell to his death.
Daedalus is also known for building a temple for Apollo.

My Notes

Daedalus was a refreshing change from other myths because he seemed very human. As opposed to wild superstions and heroes and gods and all that which we are accustomed to in Greek Mythology - here suddenly is an ordinary human man - albeit he is not completely ordinary either, and he certainly doesn't live in an ordinary world.

I didn't know who Daedalus was at first. If I were to know anything relating to Daedalus it would have been Icarus first, and the Minotaur second. These characters seem to pop up in music and art reference a lot. But now that I have these stories all tied together and related with Daedalus I have to say that he is a very intriguing character.

It seems obvious that Daedalus was famous far and wide for being a great artist and inventor, and a great mind in general for that matter. So with that being the case we would have to assume that he created a great many things before the Labyrinth and the Wings of Icarus. Later in his tale he is also said to have designed and built a temple to Appolo. Thus as an architect too, we can conclude that his skills seemingly have no limit. You would think a great man with this many talents would have continued on to make many more things, and that as a story it should go on and be even more amazing than it already is. But that is just the magic of this myth... it keeps you wondering just a bit.

It is haunting because unlike other stories, his life is laid out in segments like the real history of a real genius and his life's work, but obviously the things he did are too fantastic to be real, and we would have to include things such as Minotaurs and Flying men to believe in the whole story. But still, why would someone make such things up? Why bother mentioning that he built a temple to Apollo in later years?

So this myth is equally as captivating but for different reasons. I'm left to assume that this was some type of children's story, or a fascinating tale to tell at occassions for entertainment, along with some wine and food. We can find some useful bits of knowledge in such a myth. It shows us the coveted power of mans potential when he has the gift of creativity. It shows us the perils of aiming too high. We also learn about the Minotaur and King Minos. Each character with their own lessons to be learned, and each one spiraling on to make another story yet - as is always the case in Greek Mythology.

Reference

https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Daedalus/daedalus.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daedalus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minotaur

Triton

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Nov 2018

Updated:
Nov 2019

The Myth

Triton is the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, who are god and goddess of the sea.
As such, Triton himself is also a god (or demigod) of the sea and he serves his father as messenger.
Triton is usually portrayed as a merman - having the head and body of a man and the lower half of a fish.
He blows his conch shell like a trumpet to control the wake of the waves.
Triton lives in a golden undersea castle with his parents, the gods of the sea.

My Notes

My description for Triton comes mostly from the Roman poet Ovid because it was a clear and precise definition which I found to be very suitable for the myth. He is described as having the lower body of a fish (not dolphin), and shoulders decorated in sea shells, and carrying a conch.

I put some thought into the idea of using a dolphin-like tail instead of fish. Dolphins and whales have flat horizontal tails which wave up and down, whereas fish have vertical tails which wave left to right to move forward. I looked at a lot of other illustrations and art online and I came to the conclusion that it should be a fish tail. It seemed that only more modern illustrations used dolphin-like tails to portray Triton and mermen in general.

This myth was much more asthetic than previous illustrations. I thought Triton was just an interesting being to bring to light, and I wanted to take the time to look into the details of his history and his physical description. There isn't a lot to work with, but the thought of him swimming around doing his work seemed like a beautiful thing for the imagination to play with. I took a significant amount of time to choose the right type of fish and I studied the difference between fins, including dorsal fin, pelvic fin, anal fin, and caudal fin - all of which are portrayed as accurately as I could do in this illustration.

Reference

https://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Triton.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triton_(mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merman

Athena and Little Owl

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Jul 2019

Updated:
Jul 2019

The Myth

Athena is a Greek goddess who is given credit for having power a wide variety of human skills.
Among Athena's more prominent attributes are the art of warfare, wisdom, and various art forms - specifically spinning and weaving.
Great heroes are known for seaking aid from Athena and warriors would pray to her.
Athena is usually portrayed wielding a spear and a famous shield named "aegis".
Athena's shield (aegis) was gifted to her from Zeus and has the image of a Gorgon on its face.
She is associated with various objects including owls, olive trees, and snakes.
She was born from the forehead of Zeus.
She is known as "The Virgin Goddess" and she is portrayed with a very stately demeanor.

My Notes

Athena is a MAJOR greek goddess. We've all heard her name, and so this was a bit of an undertaking for me. I don't want to portray her poorly in anyway. That being the case, please excuse my vague description of her above. I'm just trying to hit the obvious high points, but she is probably known to different people for so many different things because of her prominence in Greek Mythology.

The reason that I came to illustrate Athena is actually a bit funny. I didn't start by thinking of Athena at all. I kept thinking about the old movie "Clash of the Titans" which is the story of the hero Perseus. I watched this movie a lot on TV when I was young. In the movie there is a "mechanical owl" which assists Perseus. I took this for granted when I was a young, but as I got older I slowly realized how odd it was that something as sophisticated as a "robot owl" would suddenly appear in Ancient Greek Mythology. It doesn't add up... so I looked into it.

It turns out that Athena is often portrayed with an accompanying owl. My reading leads to speculation that the owl is a symbol of wisdom and thus fits Athena's power over the attribute of wisdom. The name of the particular owl which accompanies Athena is actually called a "Little Owl", that is the name for this type of owl.

Now regarding the "mechanical" owl which we can see in Clash of the Titans, I can not seem to confirm whether or not this has any actual founding in Ancient Greek Mythology. But I do see some writings (probably based on the movie) which says Hephaestus designed the owl for Athena and sent it to help Perseus. This actually makes sense as we will see later in this illustration series, because if anyone were to make such a divine device, it would certainly be Hephaestus.

My decision to make this illustration in black and white was twofold. Firstly I was very deep into creating a style of art at this time which I call "Contrast Drawing". And this illustration demonstrates that well. Second, I didn't want to take responsibility for portraying the details of what an actual goddess should look like. Especially not one as prominent as Athena! So with this black-and-white style I felt like I could safely portray the overall essense of the character without having to worry about the finer details of her visual depiction.

Reference

https://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Athena.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athena
https://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Athena/athena.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owl_of_Athena

Perseus and Medusa

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Aug 2019

Updated:
Sep 2019

The Myth

Perseus was the son of Zeus through Danae but was abandoned along with his mother and grew up with her on an island.
When Perseus grew, the king of the island had dispute with Perseus over his mother and the king tricked Perseus into a challenge to slay the Gorgon Medusa and bring back her head as a gift to the king.
A Gorgon is a monster, a female with a gross face, wings, and snakes for hair.
There were known to be three Gorgons, all sisters, but only Medusa was mortal.
Medusa was hideous and legend says anyone who looked at her would turn to stone.
Perseus was gifted with special gifts from Athena and Hermes to help him on his quest.
One of these gifts was a pair of sandals which enabled Perseus to fly and Perseus is often associated with these sandals..
In order to avoid the stone-gaze of Medusa, Perseus is often credited for using his shield as a mirror to track down the monster, and then beheaded her.
It is said that when Perseus beheaded Medusa Pegasus and Chrysaor sprang from her neck as offspring.
Pegasus was a winged horse, and Chrysaor is said to be a golden man, or a young man with a golden sword.

My Notes

I think I had to do at least one commonly known Greek Myth, and I wanted something which showed the darkness of monsters which are so common throughout the myths. Before this illustration I had not done anything too horrifying. In order to express Greek Mythology correctly we must include some monsters. And Medusa is among the most famous of them all.

The movie "Clash of the Titans" influenced me once again with this illustration. When I think of Medusa I often remember that movie first, in which she was portrayed as having a snake-like tail. People have noted that there is nothing in Greek Mythology which states her as having a snake-like body, but if you browse around the web you will see I am not the only one portraying her as suck. I think the movie had a huge influence on a generation of people and that influence lives on through today. In fact, I was thinking that I couldn't imagine drawing her without the snake-like body. It just seems commonplace to me now.

Reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorgon
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Medusa-Greek-mythology

Heracles and Nemean Lion

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Sep 2019

Updated:
Nov 2019

The Myth

Nemea is a territory of Ancient Greece which in modern day is situation in the area of Corinthia.
In the land of Nemea there was a great monster known as the Nemean Lion.
The Nemean Lion terrorized Nemea but could not be killed.
It had a powerful coat of golden fur impervious to common mortal weapons and dangerous claws that could cut through anything.
Heracles, perhaps the greatest of heroes in Greek Mythology is famous for his twelve labors which he served as a sort of penitence for King Eurystheus.
The first of Heracles' labors was to slay the Nemean Lion.
Heracles first tried with his bow and arrow but he found the lion's coat too strong to penetrate.
Heracles cornered the lion in his cave at one point and strangled the lion to death with his bare hands.
Heracles later used the Nemeon Lion's coat as a cape due to it's protection against common weapons.

My Notes

This illustration was another lucky draw out of a hat. I had started off with a list of monsters and characters and gods and heros which I thought would be easy enough to portray visually. And Nemeon Lion must have found its way onto that list. Additionally, a Greek Mythology series wouldn't be complete without Heracles stealing the show just one more time.

My original list of things to illustrate changed over time as I learned more along the way. And some things I learned along the way might be worth noting. I should mention that a lot of the fun in Greek Mythology has to do with things that do NOT transfer well into visual language - because they leave more to imagination. I remember reading about things like "Hundred Armed Giants" and "Hundred Eyed Monsters" and such things which are not so easy to portray, and maybe we wouldn't want to see such things anyway. But that doesn't make them less valuable! In fact a lot of Greek Mythology has to do with dealing with "fear" in a summarized way of thinking. It is the demonstration how god-like heroes use their power to fight through such perils that brings us inspiration and hope.

That should not be forgotten.

And I also thought "Perhaps this is why we often lose a lot of ancient knowledge through the sands of time" When things are not put into pictures, we tend to forget them more easily.. I mean sure, people read and people pass on knowledge naturally, but when you see things in pictures they seem to stay branded in your mind forever.

Heracles is the legend who we call Hercules today. They are one-and-the-same; They just changed the name in Roman history which followed Ancient Greece's example. I had to choose one character as the main focus for this illustration, either Nemean Lion or Heracles, and since we see and hear of Heracles so much already, I thought I would give the Nemean Lion his due time in the spotlight. For Heracles, I only knew that he had to look very, very strong as we all know he was a man of great strength. And in the version of the myth as I understood it, his first attempt at attacking the lion began with a bow and arrow.

For the Nemean Lion I took a little time to do some research and thought about what might be special about him. The odd thing was, he didn't really seem to have any features outside that of a common lion. It is only that the common features of a lion are emphasized in writing such as "impenetrable golden fur, sharp dagger like fangs and claws"... but these things could also be said about any common lion of course. I also read that lions might have been indigenous to the area of Ancient Greece, but they were not there any more. This made me think "Maybe they just didn't have many lions there back then, and so a single lion was in fact like a great monster, especially if it ate people."

BUT. I have an illustration to make here, and we know that the meaning of this great myth is not only to say "a man killed a lion". It was a great lion which many men had tried and failed to kill. And now here comes Heracles with his god-like strength, deft manouvers, and clever strategy to single-handely defeat this great threat to the world!

THAT is Hercules vs the Nemean Lion!


Reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemean_lion

Hephaestus

Poster Prints
Art Prints
Initiated:
Sep 2019

Updated:
Oct 2019

The Myth

Hephaestus, born as son to Hera, is a Greek god who is predominantly associated with fire and blacksmithing.
He zone of power includes all metalworking, carpentry, sculpture and various arts and crafts of the stronger nature.
For reasons unclear, Hephaestus was exiled from Mount Olympus at a young age.
Hephaestus is known for having deformities. In some counts he was born this way, in others he gained his demornity when he was kicked down to Earth from Mount Olympus.
One of his notable deformities is a trademark limp in his walk.
Having been exiled from Olympus, Hephaestus thought himself to be mortal at first when he was growing up.
People noticed his special powers in matters of smithing and crafting, then he realized he was a god and traveled back to Mount Olympus where he would regain his status.
Hephaestus regained his rightful status and became one of the twelve Olympians.
Hephaestus is most noted as a blacksmith and for creating all of the weapons and all of the greatest crafts of the gods.
It is said that when volcanoes erupt it is because Hephaestus is busy working at his forge.
Hephaestus's skill at craft was so advanced that he was able to make machines to do repetitive tasks for him called automatons.
There is even legend that Hephastus craft an automaton so lifelike that they walked the Earth as a human and no one knew the difference.

My Notes

Hephaestus is the last myth in this series, at least for the meantime, and the decision to chose Hephaestus was easy. If my mind wasn't already blown by my research on the previous myths, it was blown away by Hephaestus. For starters he is the most hard-core god I had ever heard of and his meaning and purpose seems to run deep into the heart of mankind's story. It was said that Hephaestus was busy working at his forge when volcanoes erupted, because his forge was deep under the earth. This shows us that Hephaestus was a god powerful enough to be give credit for natural disasters - and perhaps to no surprise being that he is a direct decendent of The Olympians, and a member of the twelve olympians himself.

But what really broke-my-brain was when I found out about the automatons he created. This is virtually to say that a Greek god invented robots thousands of years ago. And here I thought robots were only the thoughts of modern science fiction writers!

These myths and legends are thousands of years old and generally speaking they seem to be at the dawn of Western history. We do not have much to go on before Ancient Greece. The Epic of Gilgamesh is known as the first written story and that dates at 2700 BC, alphabetic writing emerged in 1800 BC, and then Greek city-states arise at 800 BC (reference). So were people really thinking of things as advanced as robots this long ago? The use of iron didn't spread until 1100 BC. That's pretty impressive! It has taken us so long to actually make working robots, and we have them now in factories today. But to think that the concept was there thousands of years ago gives the brilliance of ancient people much more credit than I previously assumed possible.

Reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hephaestus
https://www.theoi.com/articles/facts-about-the-greek-god-of-fire-hephaestus/

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