Heracles and the magic herd (Burkert ch.4)


Aspects of Heracles:  [[terms for Final review]]

the following are conventional links to Heracles that B finds interesting but inadequate:

=Ninurta son of Enlil?

 in preSargonian cylinder seals as greater hunter of beasts and monsters

 like Gilgamesh (or Enkidu?) subduing the bull of heaven (and represented on seals?)

                  his quest for herb of youth like Heracles' for Apples of Hesperides?    

 like Marduk son of Ea against Tiamat and her spawn of 11 monsters


Or just plain Dorian 'blue-collar' hero of liberation against the older tribes?



Burkert focuses first on lesser known quest to fetch cattle of Geryon(es), to Red-island = setting sun ~land of the dead

   this fight parallel to Her. at Pylos wounding Hades himself to get the magic herd.

Heracles goes in 'Bowl of Sun' (as Utu aided G & E or as G passed beyond in the passage of the Sun—somehow the way to world beyond is in the path of the Sun—when he’s not using it)


NB p. 84, how perfectly the story corresponds to Propp’s key functions.

Cattle of  N. ‘Italy’ ‘cowcountry’  from this mythic cattledrive.


§5 Shaman’s journey to the Mistress of Animals in the Beyond

--Eskimo parallel is intriguing but unsatisfying to me (tho' it does have the element of female pollution so dear to the Greeks).


The basis theory: that the fascination with figures like Heracles goes back to the shaman who journeys in person or trance to the realm Beyond ,to assure the return of the migratory herds upon which the primitive hunting tribe is dependent.


Then the evolution to cave paintings, that seem to represent the shaman’s journey.

The missing link for me is the Mistress of Animals: this figure seems so central to the shaman journey, but almost wholly lacking in Heracles’ saga, unless we count Artemis and her hind.