In the Footsteps of Herakles

Ory Amitay

in From Alexander to Jesus

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520266360
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948174 | DOI:
In the Footsteps of Herakles

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In the winter of 330/329, Alexander the Great crossed the Hindu Kush from southwest to northeast and found a cave, an eagle's aerie, and the marks of chains. Alexander and his men recognized the signs immediately: the rock was none other than the mythical prison of Prometheus; the eagle was Zeus's dreadful companion, slain by Herakles. The process whereby the Caucasus was identified with the Hindu Kush appeared to be the reverse of that envisioned by the third-century geographer, Eratosthenes of Kyrene. Alexander marched beyond the Caucasus (the site of the easternmost adventure of Herakles, or so it seemed at the time), and his men passed the boundaries set by Dionysos beyond the Tanais. The following year (329/8–328/7) saw a number of incidents with Heraklean flavor. The first instance where Heraklean influence may perhaps be detected is the punishment of Bessos. The second scene takes place on the banks of the river Oxus (Amu-Darya). Herakles plays a small but crucial role in the events leading to the murder of Kleitos. Herakles was also involved in the proskynesis affair.

Keywords: Alexander the Great; Herakles; Hindu Kush; cave; eagle; Prometheus; Zeus; Caucasus; Kleitos; proskynesis

Chapter.  6099 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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