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Luke, Jesus, and Heracles

and the model of the ethical hero at the cross-roads

(research notes)

According to Michaelis, „particular attention must be paid to the fable of Heracles at the cross- roads, which is particularly traced back to the Sophist Prodicus and recounted in Xenoph.Mem. 2, 1, 21-34‟. 1 Michaelis cautiously notes that „the expression „cross-roads‟ is too graphic to be used here.‟ 2 The fact, however, remains that Heracles is pictured as having to choose between two „ways‟ (or manners) of life, between and , Virtue and Disgrace (Vice), personified as two goddesses.

, Virtue and Disgrace (Vice), personified as two goddesses. The legend of Heracles at the forks
, Virtue and Disgrace (Vice), personified as two goddesses. The legend of Heracles at the forks

The legend of Heracles at the forks of Virtue and Vice, or at cross-roads, imaginatively brings in view the older motif of choosing one‟s course of life. This idea has to do with the responsability of the leader and, somehow, supplements the stricter and more fatalistic Greek view about the humans‟ life and their power to decide their destiny, illustrated for example in the legend of Oedipus. 3

Conceding that „there is no methodological justification for jumping to the conclusion that the fable influenced the use of the metaphor [of the two ways] in Jewish and Christian writings‟ 4 one could retain, nevertheless, the strength of this paradigm of „choice‟ or of the „hero at the decision‟s forks‟. And probably the metaphor of the Way, in Luke, should be seen not only as structuring the narrative, but also as offering to Theophile, as a leader, the opportunity of a responsible moral choice.

The ‘way’ and its challenges From the first lines, the reader is presented with the actual details of a moralistic story, the whole action taking place „when Heracles was passing from boyhood to youth‟s estate, wherein the young, now becoming their own masters, show whether they will approach life by the path of virtue ( ) or the path of vice.‟ 5

life by the path of virtue ( ) or the path of vice.‟ 5 His age,

His age, therefore, and not the mere occurrence of an event is confronting Heracles with such a

moral decision. Going into a quiet place (

, cf the Lukan theme of retreat

Going into a quiet place ( , cf the Lukan theme of retreat in lonely places)

in lonely places) he ponders which road to take ( ). 6

1 Michaelis, “ 2 Michaelis, “

3 J. Lemprière, Classical Dictionary, (ed.1994, Bracken Books, London), p.453

4 Michaelis, “

5 Xenophon, Memorabilia, II, i.21 (Loeb, p.95) 6 Xenophon, Memorabilia, II, i.22 (Loeb p.95)

”, TDNT, p.43.Memorabilia , II, i.21 (Loeb, p.95) 6 Xenophon, Memorabilia , II, i.22 (Loeb p.95) ”, TDNT,

”, TDNT, p.44Memorabilia , II, i.21 (Loeb, p.95) 6 Xenophon, Memorabilia , II, i.22 (Loeb p.95) ”, TDNT,

”, TDNT, p.46Memorabilia , II, i.21 (Loeb, p.95) 6 Xenophon, Memorabilia , II, i.22 (Loeb p.95) ”, TDNT,

Lady Vice remarks Heracles‟ inner doubts when she says „Heracles, I see that you are in doubt which path to take towards life ( )‟. She promises him the

pleasantest and the easiest road ( she will tell him truly the things as they
pleasantest and the easiest road (
she will tell him truly the things as they are ordained by the gods (
). Lady Virtue stresses that

). 7 It is not difficult to note how Luke, in his prologue to the Gospel, wrote to Theophilus in an attempt to present the story of Jesus with a similar concern

attempt to present the story of Jesus with a similar concern for a truthfull exposition (note

for a truthfull exposition (note the ; and the

). 8

concern for a truthfull exposition (note the ; and the ). 8 For Vice the road

For Vice the road to happiness just introduced by Virtue, is unsufferable hard and long


) while her own road to happiness is short

and easy. Virtue ends the fable with her last plea for a wise choice for the harder, but in the end

more rewarding way to life.

The ideal of a following a moral and noble path of life is expressed in many prayers or hymns

addressed to the Greek gods, as well. In an Orphic hymn to the godess of Justice (

an relatively early C.E. poet writes asking that all may be given to „follow a path both balanced

and noble,‟

. 9
. 9

Justice, or moral example or law-giving, were often pictured as taking place through or at the end of a journey. In an hymn dedicated to the god Nomos (Law) the lines run „journeying on the

heavens he brings the laws from above (

). 10

on the heavens he brings the laws from above ( ). 1 0 Is then the

Is then the act of law-giving, from the perspectives of human receptivity at least, more intuitive when connected with a journey, with a choice at the end of a significant road, in a sort of a

special link between the human realm and the divine? The Deuteronomic Moses would not appear to contradict such a theory. 11 And neither does the Lukan Jesus

From another perspective, Jesus‟ life is a life of hardships and finally of a rewarded suffering:

the Gospels could well have appealed to the Hellenist reader as an interesting ethics manual for

7 Xenophon, Memorabilia, II, i.28-29 (Loeb, p.99) 8 Luke, 1:1, 4;. 9 „Hymn to Justice,‟ The Orphic Hymns, English trsl. and notes by Apostolos N. Athanassakis, (Scholars Press, Missoula, Montana, 1977; in the Texts and Translations 12, Graeco-Roman Religious Series 4; So- ciety of Biblical Literature, series edited by Hans Dieter Betz and Edward N. O‟Neill), p.84, line 13 (translated in p.85 as line 16). 10 Hymn to Nomos, The Orphic Hymns, p.85, line 5. ”Travelling” (gr. ) occurs once in NT, and this is in Luke‟s parable of the good Samaritan (10:33). The idea of life as a model of good journeying through years, is not foreign to Greek mind. For an example, a metrical epitaph for Asclepios reads: “for (here) I lie, a man of good deeds, after travelling through this world for fifty years ( )”, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, (a Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri published in 1976, by G.H.R. Horsley; The Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University, 1981, Australia), p.146. 11 Parallels between Greek and Jewish law-givers and philosophers have been advocated often in history. For an example, Numenius of Apamea, the second half of the second century C.E. is quoted by many as having put together Moses and Plato: “for what is Plato, but Moses speaking in Attic ( )?” (apud Clemes Alexandrinus, Stromata, I, 22:150:4; or Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, IX.6:9; or Theodoretus, Graecarum Affectionum Curatio, II, 114, etc) in Mena- hem Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, vol.2, (From Tacitus to Simplicius), p.206-216 (Jerusalem, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Hermeneutics, 1980).

, vol.2, (From Tacitus to Simplicius), p.206-216 (Jerusalem, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Hermeneutics, 1980).
, vol.2, (From Tacitus to Simplicius), p.206-216 (Jerusalem, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Hermeneutics, 1980).
, vol.2, (From Tacitus to Simplicius), p.206-216 (Jerusalem, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Hermeneutics, 1980).
, vol.2, (From Tacitus to Simplicius), p.206-216 (Jerusalem, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Hermeneutics, 1980).
, vol.2, (From Tacitus to Simplicius), p.206-216 (Jerusalem, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Hermeneutics, 1980).

the young. It is worth noting in this context, that in John 12:2 Jesus is presented as arguing, before some Greek visitors, with a similar focus on ethics: „Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.‟

The constant problematization of the Luke‟s message, brings into discussion the necessity ( ) of
The constant problematization of the Luke‟s message, brings into discussion the necessity ( )
of following God‟s will and even of giving in to God‟s constraining ( ). This can be
clearly seen in texts like Acts 13:46 (
) and
Luke 14:23 (

). Jesus‟ life is presented not only as a religious reason for worship but also as a moral model, worth-following.

Dio Chrysostomus’ version of the Ways In his First Discourse on Kingship, Dio presents Hermes as meeting the lad Heracles in Thebes and taking him over a path untrodden of man till he came to a „conspicuous and very lofty mountain-peak whose sides were dreadfully steep with sheer precipices and with the deep gorge

of a river that encompassed it, whence issued a mighty rumbling and roaring‟

12 The mountain

displayed a double peak: „[it] seemed single; but it was in fact double, rising from a single base; and the two peaks were far from each other. The one of them bore the name Peak Royal

from each other. The one of them bore the name Peak Royal ( ) and was

) and was sacred to Zeus the King; the other, Peak Tyrannous ( ), and was named after the giant Typhon.‟

The two peaks, however, were approachable from without by two different roads or paths. The first path to Peak Royal and was safe and broad ( ). The other was narrow,

crooked, and difficult (

13 The choice confronts Heracles again


through the mediation of two beautiful ladies goddesses, one called „the blessed Lady Royalty

), child of King Zeus‟. 14 The


other is Tyranny ( ) „seated aloft, of set purpose counterfeiting and making herself like to Royalty‟. 15

One cannot help to observe that the choice theme and its correspondent imagery of the „way‟ have survived for centuries as cultural references, and did sustain several variants in the first century AD. In the same time, is evident that in Dio‟s version there functiones more elaborated allegories than in Prodicus‟ variant: this mentions glorious thrones, lofty mountains, the presence of a guide (Hermes). Some of these extra elements are interestingly paralleled by the Synoptics‟ presentation of Jesus‟ temptation in the desert, on the mountain and on the temple‟s pinnacle, by the Devil (especially Lk 4.1-13 and Mt 4.1-11; Mk 1.12-13 is a very limited account and does not display the mentioned elements of parallelism).

12 Dio Chrysostom, (in five volumes, LCL, transl. by J.W. Cohoon, W. Heinemann, London, 1961 [3rd; 1st: 1932]), vol.1, 1.66, (LCL p.35) 13 Dio Crhysostomus, Discourses, 1.67 14 Dio Chrysostomus, Discourses, 1.73 (LCL p.38) 15 Dio Chrysostomus, Disocurses, 1.78 (LCL p.41)

1. The Saviour paradigms of Heracles D.E. Aune mentions that there exists enough evidence indicating that during the second and third centuries AD Christians and pagans alike saw Heracles and Christ as religious rivals.16 He was a hero-god, a saviour figure, deified after death and worshipped in numerous temples, which were spread all over the Roman Empire. 17

Aune has looked into the Epistle to Hebrews trying to demonstrate that Hebrews Christology, despite some similarities with a Heraclelogy, is not dependent or developed from the Heracleslegends. Responding to an alternative hypothesis, Aune concludes that despite the widespread popularity and symbolic value of the figure of Heracles in the Greco-Roman world, there is no convincing evidence that Heracles imagery played any significant role in the formation of legendary episodes about Jesus found in the Canonical Gospels.18

However, his analysis established that there are important correspondences, like for example, the obedience of Christ to the will of the Father (Heb. 5:8-9 and 10:5-10) which is paralleled by Heraclesobedience to the will of Zeus (Diodorus 4.11.1; Epictetus 2.16.44; 3.22.57; Menander Rhetor 2.380). 19

The largely spread worship of Heracles can be attributed to his fame, but also to a possible unified reference to the existence of several heroes bearing the same name, or to the assimilation under a Roman name of some local fertility gods. 20 An interesting fact is, in the same time, that

16 David E. Aune, “Heracles and Christ. Heracles Imagery in the Christology of Early Christianity”, in Greeks, Romans and Christians, Essays in Honour of Abraham J. Malherbe, (ed. David L. Balch, Everett Ferguson, Wayne A. Meeks, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1990, p.3-19), p.3. 17 Aune, “Heracles and Christ”, p.5: “Yet Heracles differed decisively from other Greek heroes. The wor- ship of most Greek heroes centered at their tombs, where their physical remains were thought buried. He- racles, however, had no tomb.” Ragnar Höistad, Cynic Hero and Cynic King, Studies in the Cynic Con- ception of Man, (Uppsala 1948, printed in Lund, 1948, by Carl Bloms Boktryckeri A.-B.) Heracles is of- ten presented as the ruler of the Earth theme; cf. Epictetus III 26,32). Höistad writes that “Heracles in re- ality was a universal king, as is shown by his temples” (p.154). 18 Aune, “Heracles and Christ”, p.19; see also p.11-12; 19 Aune, „Heracles and Christ‟, p.18-19 20 Nillson, M.P., (The Mycenian Origin of Greek Mythology, Berkeley, University of California Press; 1932; p.187-220) argues that Heracles image originated in folklore and it never represented an actual his- torical individual. However, some interprets thought there did exist several individuals named Heracles, in different times and regions. Cleanthes, a Stoic philosopher, proposed there existed two different figures named Heracles - one the god and the other the hero. [J. von Arnim, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, Stuttgart: Teubner, 1964, 1.115f. (frag. 514)]. Arrian proposed there lived three different figures bearing the same name: the son of Alcmene, the Tyrian Heracles, and the Egyptian Heracles (Anabasis Alexandri 2.16). An extreme form of this hypothesis belongs to Varro, the Roman rationalist and mythographer, who proposed that there should be distinguished no less than forty-three different Heracles characters. [cf. Augustine Civ. Dei 18.12].(see Aune, “Heracles and Christ”, p.5). Menander of Ephesus mentiones He- racles in what was, originally, a worship of Merkat: “[king Hirom, son of Abibalus] built new shrines dedicated to Heracles and Astarte. (119) He was the first to celebrate the Awaking [resurrection? m.emph.] of Heracles in the month Peritius” (apud: Josephus, Contra Apionem, I, 116-126). Menahem Stern (Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, Jerusalem, 1976, vol.1, p.119-123) observes that “the Tyrian Heracles stands for Melkart”. D. Aune reaffirms this origin of the Tyrian Heracles writing that “further, Heracles was traditionally associated with the Tyrian god Melkart, the Baal of the Old Tes-

in its artistic or sepulchral expressions Christianity in its pre-officialized form as a state religion, did use - surprisingly - various themes from the Heracles legends, in a variety of ways. 21 Indeed, after more timid attempts from the part of other scholars, Theodor Birt claimed at the beginning of the century that the primitive records of proto-Matthewand proto-Markwere dependent on the Heracles legend. 22 F. Pfister suggested that the author of Urevangeliumwhich stood as source for the Synoptics, modeled the story of Jesus after a Cynic-Stoic Heracles biography. 23 D. Aune describes Pfisters approach, however, as a most bizarre attempt to link the figure of Heracles to that of Jesus,despite the fact that there are some good parallels. 24 Aune and M. Simon agree rather with the more nuanced hypothesis of A.J. Toynbee. 25 Toynbee compared Jesus with a number of Hellenistic saviour figures, all being in the same time historical figures as well (Aristonicus, Eunus, Catiline, Agis, Cleomenes, the Gracchi, and Cato Minor). He argues that the Gospels contain, embedded in them, a considerable number and variety of

tament” (“Heracles and Christ”, p.5). In the passage quoted from Menander, however, Josephus men- tiones that Hiram celebrated . Stern comments on the ambivalence of the text that “the celebration alluded to here is connected with the ritual of the god who dies and comes back to life. This tradition is preserved by Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, IX, 47, p.392 D-E; cf. J. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, I, London 1927, pp.110ff; see also J. Morgenstern, Vetus Testamentum, X (1960), pp.163 ff. Thackeray translated the passage as implying the erection of a temple to Heracles [The Loeb Classical Library]. His interpretation has been recently approved by H.J. Katzenstein, JNES, XXIV (1965), pp. 116 f.” (Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, p.121, n.119). It is therefore believable that some traits of Heracles dynamic portrait, “in the making”, appeared as a result of the interraction between the image of the Greek hero and the cult (worship) of some eastern deities. 21 Josef Fink, Bildfrömmigkeit und Bekenntnis, Das Alte Testament, Herakles und die Herrlichkeit Christi an der Via Latina in Rom (1978, Böhlau Verlag, Köln) p.95: In room N of the Via Latina complex of cat- acombes there is a picture of Heracles holding Kerberos aside and freeing Alkestis (p.95; see picture nr.6:

the freeing of Alkestis by Heracles). The picture is of Christian origin and it dates from the second half of the fourth century, (“Die Grundrichtung der Zeit ist Christlich. Die Katakombe an der Via Latina gehört in dieselbe Epoche”. [cf. W.N. Schumacher, Riv. di archeol. Christiana 50, 1974, 349]; in Fink, Bildfrömmigkeit, p.97). The intepretation of the picture is still uncertain (p.96: „Die Probleme des Bildes sind ungelöst. Sicher ist nur, daß keine Rückführung (durch Herakles) sondern der Weg in den Hades (durch Hermes) dargestellt ist‟). However, one thing is clear: a number of heroic myths were „christianized‟: „Bei dem Konkurenz verhältnis Apollonos-Christentum kann dies auf die Christianisierung des heroischen Beispiels eigenwirkt haben. Die Bildparallele an der Via Latina ist als Christianisierung unverkennbar. Sie liegt, offenbar auch für Christen, schon vor, als sie hier zur Anwendung kommt.‟ (Fink, Bildfrömmigkeit, p.98). On one hand such pictures corespond in theme with similar ones found in Christian tombs from Lebanon (see Höistad). There are other links as well, between biblical thinking and Heracles, present in the catacombs. Samson was depicted in the guise of Heracles in the frescoes of the Via Latina; cf. Marcel Simon, „Remarques sur la Catacombe de la Via Latina‟, Le Christianisme antique et son contexte religieux (Lief. 108/9; Stuttgart: Anton Hiers emann, 1988) 286- 296; cf. Abraham Malherbe, „Herakles‟, RAC 581-83). Indeed, comments Aune, („Heracles and Christ‟, p.4-5), by the fourth century AD, early Christians connected Samson with Heracles, as it can be seen in Augustine, Civ. Dei 18.19. 22 T. Birt, Aus dem Leben der Antike, 3rd ed; Leipzig, Teubner, 1922 23 F. Pfister, „Herakles und Christus,‟ Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 34 (1937) 42-60); he concludes on p.58 that „the comparison made by us indicates without doubt, in my opinion, that there is much more here than fortuitous coincidence and typological similarities, but that there must have existed a documen- tary dependence that stems from a Cynic-Stoic Heracles biography antedating the Synoptic Gospels‟. 24 Aune, „Heracles and Christ‟, p.11 25 A.J. Toynbee, A study of history, Oxford: OUP, London, Humphrey Milford, 1939, 6.376-539

and Christ‟, p.11 2 5 A.J. Toynbee, A study of history, Oxford: OUP, London, Humphrey Milford,

elements which have been conveyed to them by the stream of folk memory”‟. 26 Toynbee finds 24 points of correspondence between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Heracles of Greek legend. 27 He concluded that such a result suggests that the legend of Heracles may be an important common source from which the story of Jesus on one side and the stories of the pagan historical heroes on the other side may have derived some of their common features, independently of one another, through separate channels of the stream of folk-memory”‟. 28 Simon labelled Toynbees theory as the hypothesis of spontaneous imitation through the channel of popular tradition. 29

Aune attributes the phenomenological similarity about Jesus and Heracles rather to the more general tendency of traditions about great personalities to conform to the morphology of Greco- Roman heroes through the folkloristic process of the communal re-creation of tradition.He follows and writes that

in contrast, the similarities between Heracles imagery and the Christology of Hebrews that have been explored above suggest that many of the important and vital functions attributed to Heracles as a Hellenistic savior figure were understood by some early Christians as applicable to Jesus to an even greater extent than they were to Heracles. 30

Yet if one agrees with Aune that there is no weighty case for imagining a strong influence of Heraclesmyth on the Jesus lifes reports in the Canonical Gospels - in a relation of precedence and inspiration of the Greek myth twards the Christian story, nevertheless, one has to concede that both literary and archeological evidence present a strong case for a rich Heraclean imagery present in the early Christian art, and most probably later theology. It is proper to ask now for what kind of influential symbols stood Heracles in the Classic world, in the cultural world of the early Christian Church?

W.L. Knox observes that Heracles supplies many parallels with Christianity and Judaism and this is only natural in view of this popularity in the stoic and Cynic circles which stood nearest to Judaism and Christianity; in spite of all condemnations of pagan mythology we find an affinity between Jewish-Christian and pagan language which can hardly be due to chance. 31

of this

[Cynic] lifestyle‟. 32 According to Höistad in Diogenes Laertius vi.70-71 we meet a „cynic idealisation of Heracles‟. 33 Dio Chrysostomus in Discourses, 4.31, 34 and Diogenes Laertius

As Julian put it Heracles was considered the greatest example [


26 A.J. Toynbee, A study of history, 6.457 27 A.J. Toynbee, A study of history, 6.469-475 28 A.J. Toynbee, A study of history, 6.475 29 Simon, Hercule et le Christianisme, p.63; Simon evaluates Toynbees‟ analysis as a theory which dis- plays „penetration, method and persuasive force.‟ 30 Aune, “Heracles and Christ”, p.19 31 Knox, W.L., “The “Divine Hero” Christology in the New Testament”, HTR 41 (1948) 229-49) p.233 32 Julian, Or. 6.187C; in Lucian‟s Vitarum Auctio (8), Diogenes the Cynic is made to claim that his life follows Heracles‟ pattern. 33 Höistad, Cynic Hero, p.47; discussing the views of Diogenes, the founder of Cynicism, Diogenes Laer- tius presents the latter‟s ideal portrait of man. Laertius‟ words end by emphasizing that the Cynic Dio-

vi.70-71 do both present that Heracles is quoted as a model, and „this cannot be accidental.‟, says Höistad. 35

. Heracles as a „suffering‟ prophet The mature Heracles was pictured as skilled in prophecy and proficient in logic (Plutarch De E apud Delphos, 387D; cf. Hippolytus Ref. 5.26.26-28). He was associated by some with eloquence and dialectic (Lucian Heracles, 4). Heracles‟ final access to immortality was presented in the tradition as a consequence of his successful completion of the , or „Twelve Labors‟ (Lucian Deorum Concilium 6). The implicit message conveyed to the people was that through toil and suffering, a human being can become a god, ultimately. W.K.C. Guthrie writes for this reason that „the career of Herakles offered new hope to the ordinary man.‟ 36 The Heracles‟ model inspired much of the classical world‟s ideals, and so „Cynics and Stoics alike used Heracles as a symbol for the human desire to achieve final peace and reward after great toil.‟ 37

achieve final peace and reward after great toil.‟ 3 7 . Heracles as deified Virtue A

. Heracles as deified Virtue A widespread view in the Hellenistic world was that Heracles achieved the status of the Olympian gods through virtue ( ). This view is reflected in the Prodicus allegory (fable) and reinforces allegorically the understanding of his divine sonship as or . 38 Deification for merit constituted a specifically Stoic locus. 39

for merit constituted a specifically Stoic locus. 3 9 Therefore, Cynics have expressly rejected this persistent
for merit constituted a specifically Stoic locus. 3 9 Therefore, Cynics have expressly rejected this persistent
for merit constituted a specifically Stoic locus. 3 9 Therefore, Cynics have expressly rejected this persistent

Therefore, Cynics have expressly rejected this persistent portrayal of „Heracles with bulging muscles‟. 40 At the beginning of the Christian era Heracles was already understood as an ethical ideal, more than an athletic model. 41

genes lived acoording to Heracles‟ model: „asserting that the manner he lived was the same as that of He- racles when he preferred liberty to anything‟, vi.71. 34 Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 4.31: “And it was for that reason that men of old called those persons “sons of Zeus” who received the good education and were manly of soul, having been educated after the pattern of the great Heracles” ( ), in the dialogue between Alex- ander the Great and Diogenes from Sinope, the Cynic philosopher (LCL, trans. J.W. Cohoon, 3rd edition:

1961 [first: 1932], vol.1, p.182-183). 35 Höistad, Cynic Hero, p.56. 36 W.K.C. Guthrie, The Greek and Their Gods, p.239 37 Aune, “Heracles and Christ”, p.10 (cf. Donald R. Dudley, A History of Cynism, Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1967 [orig. pub. 1937], p.13, 43). Antisthenes, regarded by Diogenes Laertius as the teacher of Diogenes and, consequently, the founder of Cynism, demonstrated that “pain is a good thing by instanc- ing the great Heracles and Cyrus, drawing the one example from the Greek world and the other from the barbarians” (Diogenes Laertius 6.2; trans. R.D., Hicks in LCL, Diogenes Laertius vol.2, p.5; 1979 - 8thed [1st: 1925]). 38 Xenophon, Memorabilia, II i.22-34; Dio Chrys. Discourses 4.78; Epictetus, Diss. 2.16.44. 39 This coheres with the view expressed by Cicero (De nat. deor. 2.24.62; trans. Rackham in the Loeb Classical Library) that “Human experience moreover and general custom have made it a practice to con- fer the deification of renown and gratitude upon distinguished benefactors. This is the origin of Heracles, of Castor and Pollux, of Aesculapius, and also of Liber”. 40 Dio Chrysostomus Or. 8.30. 41 Aune, “Heracles and Christ”, p.11

of Aesculapius, and also of Liber”. 4 0 Dio Chrysostomus Or . 8.30. 4 1 Aune,

. Heracles as the ethical ideal Towards the end of the first century, Dio Chrysostom presents in what is probably a later adaptation of Prodicus‟ story (Heracles‟ choice between Virtue and Vice), a modified variant of a hero‟s choice between kingship and tyranny, which stood for the policies of Trajan and Domitian, repectively (Discourses, 1.48-84). 42

.Conclusions: Heracles as a model By the first century AD, thus, one notices a dramatic increase of Heraclean references. 43 Crysostomus also writes consciously within a larger mythological scheme, placing Heracles‟ example among other significant ones, of characters whom „they [people] represent as gods and others as heroes - for example, Heracles, the Dioscuri, Theseus, Achilles, and all the demigods‟ (

). 44
). 44

Dio Crysostomus can be judged then as fully consistent when in the dialogue in Discourses, 4.31 (The Fourth Discourse on Kingship) where he portrays Heracles as indeed the prototype of the ideal Cynic king. 45 As a divine king Heracles provides assistance to those in need, brings charms against diseases, drives evil ways, keeps death aside. 46 The later versions of Prodicus‟ fable do change as well the earlier view that Heracles completed his Twelve Labors through necessity ( ), and emphasizes the fact that his deeds were rather accomplished voluntarily. 47 As it can be noticed the picture of Heracles underwent a transformation mainly under Stoic and Cynic idealization and became in time a major paradigm of the ethically ideal hero. 48

in time a major paradigm of the ethically ideal hero. 4 8 4 2 Dio Chrysostom,

42 Dio Chrysostom, in five volumes, LCL, transl. by J.W. Cohoon, W. Heinemann, London, 1961 [3rd; 1st: 1932], vol.1, Introduction. p.ix-x: Dio Cocceianus Crysostomus, a relative of Dio Cassius the histo- rian, was born of well-to-do parents in the city of Prusa in Bythinia about AD 40 and died about 120. As a Sophist he opposed philosophers, especially the Stoic Musonius - but finally was converted by the latter and became one of the company of Stoics. His models were Plato, Demosthenes, Xenophon, Antisthenes. 43 Hoïstad, Cynic Hero, p. 50: with Dio Chrysostom “we find an extensive use of Heracles”. Dio has nu- merous scattered references to the hero and also a few larger passages which allegorizes Heracles‟ my- thology. But such an extensive use presupposes literary continuity and development. 44 Dio Chrysostomus, Dialogues, (The Sixty-Ninth Discourse: On Virtue) 69.1 (LCL V p.139) 45 Höistad, Cynic Hero, p.56. 46 Orphica, Hymni 12 (The Orphic Hymns, trans. by Apostolos N. Athanassakis; Scholars Press, Missoula, Montana, 1977; p.21-23). Heracles is depicted as “stout-hearted and mighty, powerful Titan, strong-

headed, indomitable, author of valiant deeds”

and kindly father of time” (1-3); the one who

“for the sake of men, subdued and tamed savage races” (7); “immortal, world-wise, boundless and irre-


off the cruel


47 Dio Crysostomus, Discourses, 1.69-84 48 one has to stress the term “transformation”. Homer‟s Heracles, the earliest reference, is also portrayed as violent, of a primitive ferocity - while in Hades, put in a thoroughly dubious light (E 392 ff; L 601 ff; F 24 ff). Later interpolations tried to alter this image and presented Heracles as being “really” in Heaven while his only “shadow” behaved so badly in Hades (cf. Höistad, Cynic Hero, p.22-23). Also, in Euri- pides, Heracles, I.1357, the hero is a man betrayed and crushed by his destiny, one who does not see an- ymore the value and the reward of his previous virtue - cf. Höistad, Cynic Hero, p.66.




all charms against disease”

evil bane away”


He was the man of holy training and discipline (

(virtue) and
(virtue) and

), who trained both his body and

his soul ( control, temperance, indurance) against

body and his soul ( control, temperance, indurance) against ), 4 9 who pursued (pleasure) and

), 49 who pursued (pleasure) and


(subjective and

egotistical happiness, translated in Prodicus‟ fable as „Vice‟, but in Aristotle as „happiness‟).

Heracles as a model raises the issue of morality and of choice. The end of his life, his death and „glorification,‟ however, would not endorse the main qualities seen in Jesus‟ sacrifice for others, and in Jesus‟ faith. The content of Hellenistic ethics made Luke to advocate another „way‟ and to present Jesus‟ death and glorification in another light.

49 Diogenes Laertius, vi.70:

death and glorification in another light. 4 9 Diogenes Laertius, vi.70: (LCL, vol.2, trans. R.D. Hicks;
death and glorification in another light. 4 9 Diogenes Laertius, vi.70: (LCL, vol.2, trans. R.D. Hicks;

(LCL, vol.2, trans. R.D. Hicks; p.70).