Hercules, Hero of Strength
Mars Retrograde: December 20, 2009 through March 10, 2010
Right now, Mars is retrograde, which means it is moving backward in the sky. Because this is a time when the hero is called forth in all of us, I’m telling stories of heroes from Greek and Roman mythology as examples of heroic virtues. Today’s virtue is the most basic one Mars has to offer: physical force and pure strength. And nobody is a better example of it than Hercules.
Legends of Hercules
Hercules was known as the greatest of legendary heroes due to his enormous strength. He was your typical “big and stupid” kind of guy: he carried a club and once he even held the whole sky on his shoulders.
The best-loved tales of Hercules involve his Twelve Labors. These started out as Ten Labors, but inflation set in because the king he was laboring for got nervous of the Herculean prowess and claimed that two of the labors “didn’t count.” So Herc had to do two additional in order to stave off the anger of Juno, the goddess who was the original source of the demand. Juno disliked Hercules because he was the illegitimate offspring of her hubby, Jupiter (who really got around). Yeah, apparently old Mount Olympus was a real soap opera.
Hercules’ exploits included:
• Slaying the Nemean Lion, a fierce creature that was terrorizing the countryside. Herc slew it and wore its pelt as a snazzy outfit. Otherwise he was not known for his fashion sense.
• Cleaning the Augean stables, which were occupied by a herd of 3,000 oxen. This had to be one of nastiest cleaning jobs ever required in mythology, because the stables had not been cleaned for 30 years. Hercules diverted a river through the stables, wiping them sparkly in one swoop.
• Slaying the giant Antaeus, who was a mighty wrestler. Because he was the son of Terra, the Earth, each time he fell he rose up stronger than before. Hercules defeated Antaeus by holding him up in the air and strangling him.
Upon Hercules’ death, Jupiter made him immortal, declaring that only the vestiges of his mortal heritage were burned away on his funeral pyre, leaving his immortal being to take his place among the gods on Olympus. Juno decided Herc was here to stay and forgave him his illegitimacy.
Heroic Virtue #1: Strength
Hercules was obviously a force to be reckoned with. The tales of his many doings focus not on wit, intelligence or strategy, but on pure physical strength, brute force and the ability to assert himself and overcome.
What Mars is Asking of You
Strength and force are the most basic abilities Mars has to offer. A Mars retrograde period is a time to look at your life and ask “Where do I need to use more force? Where have I gotten weak? Am I a pansy? A 98-pound weaking? Where could I use a burst of testosterone or a shot of adrenaline? Where have I forgotten to assert myself—or maybe never learned to assert myself in the first place?”
A Mars retrograde period is a time of feeling pressure to draw that line in the sand. It is marked by anger, irritation, annoyance and bursts of ancient, stuck ferocity trying to get out.
Modern people are uncomfortable with this rough-and-ready god. Mars was not polite, nor was he cautious. He was a man’s man and sometimes we need a dose of that. It’s good to know he’s in your corner. So if, during this Mars retrograde period you find places in which you have not been defending or asserting yourself sufficiently, call on Mars. He is always there inside your fierce heart when you need him.
Articles in this thread:
Mars Retrograde: The Hero’s Journey
Hercules, Hero of Strength
Achilles, Hero of Courage
Resourceful, Clever Odysseus
There’s Still Time To Be A Hero
Castor & Pollux: Brotherhood in the Trenches
Alexander the Great & the Gordian Knot
Orpheus: Going The Distance For Love