Of all factors, arrogance is the most unfavourable to the action of divine grace.
(Mother’s Agenda. Volume 7, 19-11-66)
The two great heroes, Perseus and his great-grand-son Heracles, are the descendants of the Titan Oceanos who symbolises the opening of consciousness in evolution (Κ+ Ν) by seeking contact with the inner reality (Tethys). (For this chapter, refer to the genealogical boards 21 and 24).
More precisely, they are located in the branch of the river Inachos which represents “the evolution of the gathering of consciousness” or “evolution of concentration” or “transformation towards the abolition of the ego” according to the value given in Khi.
It must be noted that this lineage refers mainly to the “psychisation” of the being by perfecting and purifying the processes of Nature.
Inachos is the great river of Argolis, the homeland of the “shining”, “pure (Argives)” and thus, the “truth seekers”.
According to the authors, he is either the father of Io, “(the opening of) consciousness (in incarnation)”, or one of her ancestors. In the latter case, generations were interspersed, either to introduce the Argives and facilitate understanding (Phoroneus “the one who brought forth evolution”, Niobe “the incarnation of consciousness” and Argos “shining”) or to bring consistency to the number of generations in the lineages, that proved to be a real challenge for many ancient mythologists.
From Io, the sources tend to converge. We first notice this in her succession by her son Epaphus “touched”, that is to say, “the one who has experienced the touch of the Absolute”, or “the first contact of the seeker with his inner being”, and the twins Belos and Agenor whose progeny respectively describe the theoretical and practical teachings of “purification” and “liberation”.
The branch of Agenor (purification) is in turn divided into two sub-branches: Cadmus opens the royal lineage of Thebes whose ultimate goal is the re-harmonisation and transformation of the energy centres, and that of Europe initiates the one of Crete which is related to the opening of consciousness and consecration, as well as issues of “self-confinement” in some mental structures (the Minotaur) when this consecration fails.
The branch of Belos exposes the teachings for the liberation, especially through victory over the deformations of life energy including those resulting from fear (Perseus), and through the Labours of Heracles.
The exploits of Perseus, far from being the only victories of the beginning of the way, extend to levels of consciousness that bring the seeker to the origins of life on Earth, because man retains the memory of his evolution through processes whose functionings still elude us in greater part.
The common ancestors of Perseus, Heracles, Oedipus and Europe
Perseus was an ancestor of Heracles, therefore, the “project” or “ambience” of the famous “Labours” is illustrated by his victory over the Gorgon Medusa, i.e. over the alteration of the life energy.
The son of Inachos, Phoroneus “the one who brought forth evolution” is renowned for gathering the first inhabitants of the future Argos, confirming the momentum initiated by his father Inachos “the evolution of consciousness, of concentration”. This represents a preparation for the quest – the future Argos being the city of seekers – and opens the way to those who want to accelerate the pace of their evolution in themselves.
The early seeker must recognise that he is the theatre of impulses and conflicting desires, a disorder of thoughts and mixed emotions and inaccurate operations generated by the “nodes” of evolution.
Moreover, he can observe that each of the parts of his being pushes towards its own benefits. In general, the mental and the vital beings impose their wills on the body that has no alternative but to fall ill to express its disagreement. And the vital being, always hungry for sensations, mocks the ideals pursued by the mental being; or, if it is repressed, it expresses its dissatisfaction through various symptoms, such as depression.
For the elders, a man who has not really started “to bring together (the different parts of his being for a common task)” is similar to Inachos, who according to the legend “is not yet human”. He is not sensitive to any inner call towards something greater. He has no experience yet of the “awakening”, of something that “really exists”. He is merely a puppet, subjected to the multiple influences he experiences, even if the habit of responding to some of these influences, always the same, gives him a sense of continuity which he calls “me”.
His spirituality is still strongly related to the vital being, as indicated by the name of the wife of Inachos, Melia, a nymph whose name means “ash tree”. Melian nymphs existed before the birth of Zeus and their father was Uranus. But Melia is classified as Oceanid and therefore, as sister of Inachos.
In fact, Hesiod states that in the time of Cronus, men went to fetch “fire from heaven” from the summit of ash trees, before Zeus took it away from them to take revenge on Prometheus: the connection with the Absolute is thus activated by the highest level of the vital being (trances, aesthetic emotions, etc.). (Ref. Hesiod, Theogony, verse 562)
Man described here thus usually lives in his external personality and his spirituality is experienced as the peak of feeling. He has not yet returned to his inner world.
By following the progeny of Inachos, we first find his son Phoroneus “the one who leads (or carries forward) the evolution” (“root Φορ to bear +N evolution”). He was the first ruler of Argos, deemed to “have established the first elements of civilisation” (seeker starts to set the personality in order) “and instituted major cults” (contacts with the spiritual plans through intermediates, various faiths). The inhabitants of Argos even claimed that it was Phoroneus and not Prometheus who brought to men “the fire from above”: according to this statement, the inner fire, Agni, which is also the enlightened will, can therefore arise either from the path of the ascension of the planes of consciousness (Prometheus, son of Iapetus) or by opening to the Inner Divine through purification-liberation (Phoroneus) towards the psychisation of the being.
Phoroneus was appointed as arbitrator in the feud between Hera and Poseidon for supremacy over Argos, the symbolic city of seekers. He favoured Hera after consulting with his father Inachos and two other rivers gods Cephisus “stable intellect” and Asterion “flashes of light”. The novice seeker wonders if he should let himself be guided by his subconscious (Poseidon) or follow the framework of a just asceticism (Hera). In fact, it is not the expansion of consciousness (Zeus) which opposes Poseidon but its counterpart (Hera, the one who limits and structures).
Poseidon was so angry that he dried up many rivers of Argos, which was thenceforth called “the thirsty Argos”: the seeker who enters the path therefore recognises a “lack” generated and maintained by the subconscious, an insatiable thirst that fires his “aspiration”.
Some authors give him a brother, Aegialeus “Αιγιαλευς the edge of the sea, the shore” a name which gives the image of emergence from the world of emotional life. (The structure of the name Αιγι+, also indicates a spiritual impulse towards freedom.)
Some say he was the first “mortal”, that is to say, the first one to enter duality, and to live as “separated”. This awareness is the entrance into the reflective world of judgment illustrated in Genesis by the warning of Yahweh: “You shall not touch the tree in the middle of the garden, or you shall then die”.
It is also said that Phoroneus was the father of mortal men and gathered the first inhabitants of Argos without looking in to their origin: i.e. this phase, for the future seeker, was a moment when he started to “bring together (the parts of his being)” without trying to draw good from bad. Until then, his aspirations were disparate, often a result of a flayed sensibility. He was referring to the notions of virtue and vice, good and evil. While disagreeing with the world, and waiting for something else, he had not yet marshalled and focused his energies in a specific direction, still unable to discern the elements of his life that he must hold on to or reject.
Aegialeus did not have any offspring.
Phoroneus married a nymph named Teledice “the right way to act in the future”, which expresses the aspiration of the seeker to know what to do, in which direction to go. He gave her a son Apis, who does not have any particular legend – Apis is perhaps related to the Egyptian bull god of the same name. He could here be a symbol of the power of realization – and a daughter Niobe who must not be confused with another namesake who was daughter of Tantalus.
Niobe “the incarnation of consciousness in evolution” was called the first woman, the mother of all living beings because she was the first mortal woman to bear a child of Zeus, Argos. (There are several eponymous Argos’ whose stories must not be mixed.) This is the first influence, for the seeker, of higher planes (the Overmind) in a “separated” form, the first experience that “it exists”, that there is a “true, joyful, light, simple and illuminated” state which gives the impression that everything else is dead or asleep. It is possible to equate this with the text of Genesis (3:20) “man called his wife Eve (Havah) because she was the mother of all living beings.
Niobe had two sons, Argos and Pelasgos, the “bright” and the “dark”.
Before continuing with the main lineage of Argos, we must look at the offspring of Pelasgos, first king of Pelasgians. He is the symbol of the part of the seeker “who progresses in the dark” (the root Πελ means “dark”) in the mixed world of the emotional vital and of the mental, and undoubtedly the symbol of humanity who simply follows the slow pace of evolution according to nature.
In the Arcadian legends, these Pelasgians are called “pre-Selenians” (Selene is the goddess of the moon) and “lived in their rudimentary houses even before the moon rose for the first time in the sky”: they represent humanity which has not yet become aware of the existence of a True Self. They were “natives”, i.e., “born of the soil”, and for spiritual evolution “the early men”.
Argos and Pelasgos are, in the branch of Oceanos, the equivalents of Prometheus and Epimetheus (or Deucalion) in the branch of Iapetus, or of the first Cecrops in that of the Athenian kings.
The term Pelasgians may have several origins, either (near) +, “those who are near the beginning” or the root (dark) + root (lead, cause) “those who are led into darkness (into the unconscious)”.
The name may also have come from the word “the sea”. Pelasgos is, therefore, the image of humanity that is still immersed in the changing and mixed world of emotions, in the maturation phase of feelings.
Perhaps the Egyptian texts referring to “the invaders who came from the sea” in XIIth century BC have taken the same image to describe the people who barely emerged from the mixed world of feelings and passions. Historians, later, have associated these Pelasgians to an invasion of people who came “from the sea”, the oldest people of ancient Greece, but it is most likely a symbolic image.
The Pelasgians were driven out of Peloponnese by the Lapiths, as we shall see later, as they worked towards eliminating the mixing with the vital being. (From the historical point of view, it is the Achaeans who drove the Pelasgians, which is of little difference because the Achaeans represent “the evolution of concentration of consciousness” and therefore have the same symbolism as the Lapiths.)
Pelasgos united with Cyllene and gave her a son Lycaon. The latter has fifty sons from fifty different women, all wicked and arrogant, who died at the hand of Zeus because they mixed human flesh with sacrificial meat and had offered this as meals to the horrified god. For some it was Lycaon who offered this meal and was then changed into a wolf.
Pelasgos “he that walketh in darkness”, along with Cyllene “the twisted, distorted” set out on a “devious path”. However, it generates a “nascent mental light”, Lycaon, which illuminates the growth of personality in its structuring and its convening capabilities. In fact, Lycaon founded the oldest city of Lykosura in Greece which served as a “gathering point for all scattered inhabitants”.
His fifty sons demonstrated complete maturity of personality (five which is the number of the form, multiplied by ten leading to a greater level of completeness). But the man who has not begun the quest continues in anthropomorphizing the Absolute. By offering human flesh to Zeus, they were trying to belittle the divine to the human level.
(This Lycaon must not be confused with his namesake, father of Callisto “the most beautiful” and the founder of the royal lineage of Arcadia featuring Auge – one of the later unions of Heracles after the completion of his labours – and Atalanta “equality”, the great heroine of the wild boar hunt of Calydon.)
Son of Zeus and Niobe, Argos represents the process of “incarnation of the consciousness in evolution” in the continuation of the “evolution of concentration” (Inachos).
The name Argos covers several concepts related to the seeker: “brilliant, bright”, “pure” and “fast”. For Homer, the seekers are first Argives, but they sometimes were called by other names according to the main orientation of their yoga or the part they insisted upon at some point in their path ((Achaeans for concentration, Danaens for union, etc.).
It is only at this stage, when a strong desire for “something” else, for another world, appears, after first contact with “that which exists” that we can use the term “truth seeker” that the elders also referred to as “the living”.
What is this mechanism, to which experience can we connect it to? And how can we further characterise this transition to “the living world”?
If Argos represents the result of a spiritual experience, it refers to the new ability to distinguish in oneself the dark “Pelasgos” from the bright “Argos”, the right from the wrong, to the will to move forward in the path of incarnation (Niobe). The idea of crossing the stages as quickly as possible is also included in the name Argos.
Some authors have ignored the generations between Inachos and Io, referring to the quest only at the first opening of consciousness (Io) or at the first “touch” of the Absolute (Epaphus “the one who was touched”, the grandson or great-grandson of Argos).
Myths only offer little evidence to determine the prerequisites at the initiation of the path: a progressive ability to “gather” (Inachos), a movement to “incarnate that of which we are conscious” (Niobe), i.e. a certain ability to connect actions to the inner consciousness, and a sufficient development of the personality (fifty sons of Lycaon).
The ancient masters of wisdom have emphasised more on the skills required for the more advanced stages, through the lists of heroes participating in the great epics. But since the conditions required to enter the spiritual journey are dependent on the specificity of each path and on individuals – some seekers are rebels, others are submissive, some live in perpetual discomfort, others have a certain joy of living, etc. – it is quite difficult to draw a list of them.
Argos has no particular legend. His only purpose was to introduce the lineage of truth seekers.
He was replaced on the throne by his son Iasos “the human consciousness” or Peiren or Peiras or Peirasos or Peiranthos, all names that express “effort” and “experience” (Πειραω, endeavour). The spiritual path is in fact marked for a long time by the requirement for personal effort until the transformation is taken over by the Absolute. Peiren, in the most ancient tradition, is the father of Io. But from the Tragic playwrights (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides), Io is directly the daughter of Inachos and the elders refer to her as such.
Determining the nature of this “effort” and the discipline required to achieve one’s goals (contacting the inner Divine through sincerity, extension of consciousness …), is not easy as we tend to avoid the pitfalls and excesses of all kinds. This is why the great initiates often recommend following the guidelines of a master or “guru”. In order to guide his followers, a master is supposed to have achieved union with the soul, the inner Reality, to lead the disciple according to the “just order”. The search for the master is often an important step towards the beginning of the path.
But in our times it would seem that, the more the influence of separation forces in the cyclical movement, the more difficult it is to find a true living master. Then, the alternative is to follow one’s own way by taking life and not “me” – the ego -, as a guide. Jiddu Krishnamurti urged everyone to take “undivided focus” as a guide, when life itself would then become the master. Ideally, according to Sri Aurobindo everyone should one day be able to develop his own self-improvement method (yoga).
Io was a beautiful and innocent girl. Her father made her a priestess of Hera. Zeus seduced her and was surprised by his wife Hera as he hugged her. Swearing that he had not slept with her, he transformed Io immediately into a beautiful white heifer. Hera, however, insisted that the heifer be given to her. She in turn put her under the custody of Argos-Panoptes (Argos “who sees everything”) who was deemed never to sleep. The latter was also called the Hundred-Eyed-Argos as some claim that he had eyes all over his body that gave him a panoramic vision (or according to others, he had two eyes at the back of his neck). Zeus would have ordered Hermes to rescue his lover, who must have done so by killing the Hundred-Eyed-Argos according to some authors.
Hera, seeing her plan had been foiled, sent a fierce gadfly against Io who clung to her sides and savagely stung her. Hence, Io had to run away forever. She crossed Euboea, Thrace, the “Io-nian” Gulf and Bosphorus (the “passage of the cow”). Finally, she took refuge in Egypt, where Zeus changed her back to her human form. There, she gave birth to Epaphus, the fruit of her love with the god.
The story of Io, like most myths, can be seen as an isolated experience or as a process that is repeated several times in the progress towards liberation. This is why some authors gave Io a “human husband” named Telegonus “the one born afar”.
Io (ΙΩ) symbolises “the conscious existence (Ι)”, not that one that rises to the spiritual planes, but the one that opens to the reality, to incarnation, to the matter, as the second letter of her name is omega ().
Her father made her a priestess of Hera: the seeker is initiated “to the right movement” (Hera) required for the development and purification of his personality.
Called “the daughter of Inachos” by the elders, she embodies the “coming together of the different parts of the being” that draws a response from the higher planes (Zeus), even if the future seeker cannot make the connection at that moment on the path due to the manner in which he led his life. By “coming together”, the seeker must have gained a certain ability to make the various parts of his being function together yet independently, which prevents him from being a mere puppet of the multiple external influences.
The response of the higher planes is manifested by a first “experience” in the field of “enlightening knowledge” of which the cow in the symbol in the Vedas.
This is a moment when one realise “It exists”, perceived to be of the order of “true existence”, of the “Living”. The seeker experiences a complete agreement between what is inner and what is outer. He is no longer driven by events external to him, but rather strengthened in a sense of unity and complete coherence.
All men would have probably lived through this experience at least once, even though it might have been a fleeting moment, either while being in nature, while listening to music or in any other activity.
Zeus’s lie to Hera shows that the seeker knows that something happened (the conception of Epaphus “the one who is touched”) in relation to the highest of his consciousness, but he cannot know its origin nor integrate this event in his evolution.
Aeschylus offers two variants of the myth of Io. In The Suppliants, it is Hera who transforms Io into a heifer, which does not prevent Zeus from continuing his relationship with her in the form of a bull.
In Prometheus Bound, Io was induced in a dream to visit the shores of Lernean Lake and submit to the desire of Zeus (Lerna is “the place of desire”; see the second Labour of Heracles). Inachos consults the oracle and Apollo orders him to chase his daughter Io out of his house under the threat of total destruction. Io was then changed into a cow and chased by a gadfly to Egypt, as in the original myth. In this version, it is expressed in another way that the seeker working towards getting his being together (Inachos) must not be able to connect this work with a spiritual experience which happens some time later with the birth of Epaphus.
However, if the tendency of Zeus is to accelerate the evolutionary movement, then that of Hera, the power that look after its right course, is to keep total control. And as Io is her priestess, and therefore a part that is intimately devoted to her, Hera easily counteracts the effects of her august husband. For this, she deploys within the seeker a powerful framework as a namesake of Argos, Argos-the-All-Seeing (Argos “Panoptes”). This is not a negative force of opposition but a luminous power (Argos) which requires “vigilance” in all directions, on all levels of the being.
According to some, the heifer Io was tied to an olive tree, a symbol of necessary purification.
The vigilance in the early stages should encourage the seeker to become aware of his inner movements. The first requirement of the spiritual path is also expressed by one of Zeus’s gifts to Europa, a dog that let no prey escape. At the end of the journey, this awareness refers to complete focus (attention) on whatever that is.
The Hundred-Eyed-Argos belongs mostly to the royal lineage of Argos. Some say he acquired his reputation by performing several feats.
First, he delivered Arcadia from a bull that ravaged the country and he ended the misdeeds of a satyr that caused great damage. A white or “magnificent” bull is the symbol of the power of realisation of the luminous mind. But when a bull is ravaging the surrounding country, it must be simply associated with an un-purified powerful mind that is working for the ego and hinders the commitment to the path.
The satyrs are discussed in chapter five. The most appropriate symbolism here is “incompetent beings and who are worth nothing”.
According to Apollodorus, the Hundred-Eyed-Argos even killed the viper Echidna, the monster born of love between Gaia and Tartarus, who symbolises “prevention of evolution in union”, and who is the mother of four monsters: attention when exercised in extreme can pave way to complete union.
After his death, Hera preserved Argos’s eyes in a peacock’s tail, his symbolic animal. The goddess thus proclaimed that she watched over the whole of evolution and that nothing could escape her: one cannot claim to pass certain thresholds and achieve what she represents, the exactitude and the righteousness in all things, if a corresponding purification is not carried out.
With the Hundred-Eyed-Argos, the seeker who sets out on the path discovers that he must become aware of what is happening in him on all levels: the emotions, feelings, impulses, desires, thoughts that disturb him or cross his mind at any time, his attitudes, habits, attachments, etc.
This is not a self-monitoring process based on any moral, which would lead to strengthening the ego, but a sincere perspective of the inner movements.
The seeker then realises that his mind is a mess or is agitated in every direction with the often incongruous thoughts of which he knows neither the source nor the reason.
He soon discovers the ambiguity of his feelings that can be reversed at any moment, as if the same vibration bore its opposite on a certain level. Similarly, he realizes that a “positive” thought or attitude with respect to another can bring about a reverse reaction in him. Deepening his search, he sees in himself the potentiality of all human movements. He then gradually ceases to believe himself to be virtuous and to be indignant about the misdeeds of others of which he is basically supportive.
When Argos-Panoptes had worked enough, Zeus sent Hermes (the overmind here symbolizing integration, awareness) to release Io without restoring her human form.
However, Hera maintains her opposition by sending a gadfly, causing a disorderly flight of the heifer Io to various countries: the seeker must still bring consciousness to many areas of his being, without any pre-established order (wandering), under the effect of an inner mental harassment that leaves him no respite (the gadfly), in order to prepare for the initial great experience (the time of gestation of Epaphus).
This action of Hera allows nothing to be left behind, in order that the action from above is manifested in the totality of the being and bears fruits with the son of Io, Epaphus “one who has received the touch of the Real “.
This integration period leaves the seeker in a state of dissatisfaction that always gives him the desire to be elsewhere, pursuing something he cannot define. If everyone lives in a blurry state of feeling something is amiss, always disappointed with the hope that the future shall bring a cure, then the seekers live this situation even more intensely than others. It is this need that feeds their aspiration, which supports them through the path. An aspiration which is not a desire, but a thirst. It is not a desire for predation, but an opening and awakening movement.
Their dissatisfaction leads them to always be on the move, without stopping in the comfortable situations of existence.
In the older myth, the wandering of Io appears to be limited to Argos (from the city of Argos to a hillock called Euboia), or at least to Euboea, a province of “good incarnation”.
The later authors have expanded the scope of her wanderings to Egypt where she gave birth to Epaphus.
The places of wandering of the cow indicate the directions in which the seeker must orient himself: the Io-nien Gulf “(protected) place of the evolution of consciousness”, Bosphorus “the passage of the cow” which marks the doors of the East, i.e. the direction of the “New” and the beginning of the decisive commitment to the path. (For the East, where the sun rises, has always been the sign of new.)
Epaphus took Memphis as wife, daughter of the god Nile, the river-god or stream of consciousness that supports “the development of individuation”. The etymology of the name “Nilos” seems unknown. With the structuring letters, it means “the development of individuation, Ν+Λ”.
The city of Memphis was the capital of the Old Kingdom of Egypt and the pharaohs’ residence. It was founded about three thousand years before our era and gathered the heritage of spiritual knowledge of mankind. It was the centre of worship of the god Ptah, who was adored as the creator of the world.
The word Egypt could have been created from Αιγ+Ptah, with the meaning “that which is conducted according to the divine order by the god Ptah”. In Egyptian, it has its origin in Hwt-ka-pth “the place of Ptah’s soul”. This name seems to have been used by the Greeks alone. For the Egyptians, their country was called Kemet (KMT) in the time of the Pharaohs, and currently it is called MISR.
This introduction of Egyptian names in the genealogy appears to establish a relationship between the Greek and Egyptian spiritualities. The Greek initiates probably assumed that the first psychic opening experience took place in Egypt. For them, Epaphus was the great founder of the cities of primitive Egypt, which is referred to as the origin of “coherent structures” of evolutionary principles. A city can in fact be considered a symbol of “a coherent development”, that is mainly a mental organisation.
According to the authors, Epaphus had two or three children from Memphis, but only Libya has significance as the continuator of the lineage. Her name indicates “incarnation of () the process of individuation ()”.
With Io and Libya, we have two examples of filiations that were continued by women. We must note that such a thing can only happen if the union takes place with a god.
Together with a symbolic description of the evolution, the myth suggests the civilizations that witnessed these early realizations. Several generations of sovereigns ruled over Egypt, after Io. The city named after Memphis, the wife of Epaphus, placed under the protection of the god Ptah, was the capital of the Ancient Kingdom.
According to the tradition, its founder, King Menes, united “the two lands” for the first time: this is according to the current understanding of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, but perhaps we can see the symbol of a first unification of matter and spirit or of the opposite poles. In the Vedas, the Rishi (the Clairvoyant) is “the son of two mothers”, of the bright cow Aditi, the creator of worlds, and the black cow Diti, the Mother of the infinite darkness and of divided existence.
After realising the first experience of “being touched” by the Absolute (Epaphus), the seeker falls into an almost totally subconscious evolution, just as Libya fell in love with Poseidon.
It will took five more generations for a new light impulse of the higher planes to occur with the birth of Danae.
Out of love between Libya and Poseidon were born twins, Agenor and Belus, the origin of the three great myths discussed in the later chapters of Oedipus, Heracles and Europe-Daedalus.
As twins, they illustrate the teachings that we must consider in parallel, even though they are addressed successively. There are many uncertainties in the organisation of genealogies immediately following Belos and Agenor (Ref. T.Gantz). We retained here the simplest of them, that of Apollodorus.)
The first genealogical sub-branch comes from Agenor the “brave, heroic”, or with the structuring letters “the thrust of evolution”. He married Telephassa, “the dove afar”. Even more than peace, this bird is a symbol of purity, in the sense of “no mixing”. The myths of this branch – those of Oedipus and wars of Thebes, Europe and the Minotaur – therefore expose the progress in the purification work.
This orientation gained such importance in ancient Greece that it permeated the whole of civilisation and especially the arts: purity of lines, forms, ideas, etc. It generally corresponds to the entry into the higher mind with the development of intuition (the higher mind is the stage that follows the intellect). However, there can be no precise equivalence between the myths of teaching, those dealing experiences, and the planes of consciousness. In fact, partial or temporary openings may occur, transitions between the planes are progressive, and the myths most often describe repetitive processes rather than fixed stages, or directions in which the seeker has to progress and which will deepen and expand over the years and even perhaps over entire lives.
The progeny of Agenor, by his two important children Cadmus and Europa, describe the process of purification and “opening of consciousness of union process by being receptive” (Cadmus) and the “extension of consciousness” (Europa), as well as the major obstacle in this process (the labyrinth and the Minotaur).
The four or five generations coming from Io also probably give geographical indications about the succession of the most influential spiritual centres. From Egypt, spirituality would spread to Libya before finding foothold in Israel, Lebanon and Syria: in fact, Agenor, the son of Libya, was king of Phoenicia, the region that includes Israel, Lebanon and Syria of today. Then she left the regions once considered as belonging either to Africa or Asia, to take on Europe, as evidenced by the name of the daughter of Phoenix (or of Agenor), probably along the south and west coasts of the present-day Turkey. Then simultaneously, as indicated by the names of brothers and sisters of Europa, spirituality would spread in Crete (Minos), Central Greece (Boeotia where Cadmus founded Thebes), Thrace (Thassos is a city off Thrace), and in eastern Turkey (Cilix).
Homer adds an intermediate generation with Phoenix, the father of Europa.
We shall resume the study of this branch in a later chapter to address another branch here, the one that came forth from Belos and describes the theoretical process of liberation, through the stories of the two great heroes Perseus and Heracles.
The common ancestors of Perseus and Heracles. The myth of the Danaids
Between Belus and Electryon, son of Perseus, the elders have inserted characters that form two “loops”, initiated by a pair of twins, that we understand as interlaced repetitive processes that develop throughout the Labours of Heracles – hence the word used here “loop”.
In fact, the victory over fear which is one of the challenges of Perseus’s fight against the Gorgon can in no way be the subject of a unique experience, like the victory against illusion which is also inserted in the second loop as Bellerophon fights the Chimaera while staying with Proetus.
The first loop emphasizes the need to develop all that “unites” (Danaos and his daughters, the Danaids), while the results of the mental separation process (Aegyptus) let only “discernment” survive (Lynceus is the only one of the fifty sons of Aegyptus who escapes death).
The second loop is introduced by a necessary “incarnation” (Abas) that implies two possible new directions illustrated by a second pair of twins. On one hand is the participation in the world and its obscurities in confusion and poor judgment (Acrisius), and on the other hand is a refusal of the material by one who “brings to the forefront the worlds of the mind” (Proetus).
The second loop ends here not by killing but by an exchange of thrones between Perseus, who already won against the Gorgon, and Megapenthes, the son of Proetus, announcing a painful pursuit of the path when the seeker gets rid of the illusion and fear.
Although the two loops appear to treat successively the development and mastery of the mental and the vital, they actually represent concurrent processes. However, the structure of mythology obliges us to consider them one after the other.
During the detailed study that will follow, it will be necessary to always keep in mind that the corresponding myths describe the processes that run parallel to the work of Heracles, although the actions of the heroes describe these only in the final phase.
The name Belos is formed using the letters +, the letters that are identical to the name of his mother Libya +, but written in the opposite direction. They indicate the continuation of the process of individuation () in or by incarnation (). It is usually accepted that the word Belos is a Hellenized form of the Semitic word Baal meaning “master” or “lord”. Apart from the indication given by his name, Belos is not connected to any myth.
His marriage with Anchinoe “alertness, intelligence”, the daughter of Nilos “the evolution of individuation of consciousness” indicates a path of evolution in which mental perfection holds a large place. This does not refer to the intellect but to the intelligence which accepts and includes everything, converging with the real and tending to unite with it through necessary expansion and softening. In the work of liberation as outlined here, the man is considered as a spirit in a mental being, even if individual paths may put more emphasis on devotion or on the divine works.
Belos, like Agenor, is the father of twins who express two simultaneous developments in the being (or two parallel paths) whose essential achievements “combine” with the next generation for the continuation of the quest.
Belos had two twins, Aegyptus and Danaos from Anchinoe. He enthroned Danaos in Libya and Aegyptus in Arabia, which also included the territory of Melampodes, and gave his kingdom the name of Egypt. Aegyptus’ many wives bore fifty sons, while Danaos’ equally numerous wives bore fifty daughters, the Danaids. Later, the two brothers fought over power. Some say Danaos feared the power of his fifty nephews or refused to give his daughters in marriage, or that he was warned by an oracle to leave far away else he would be killed by one of them. Therefore, he fled with his daughters on a boat with fifty rows of oars he had built following the advice of Athena. Some consider this was the first “big boat” ever built. He landed in the Peloponnese, then reached Argos which was ruled by a certain Gelanor, the son of Sthenelas. A sign of the gods – the appearance of a wolf in a flock – convinced Gelanor to surrender his crown to Danaos. The latter founded the citadel of Argos. In gratitude, he established the cult of Apollo Lykaios. His daughters then retrieved the sources that had been dried up by Poseidon because Inachos had testified that the land belonged to Hera.
The subjects of Danaos then abandoned their old name of Pelasgians to take the name of Danaans.
Shortly after, Danaos was joined by his brother Aegyptus accompanied by his sons who immediately asked him to forget his resentment and accept unions of their respective children. Danaos did not believe in the reconciliation proposal but pretended to accept at the insistence of his brother.
But having offered to each of his daughters a dagger as wedding gift, he ordered them to kill their husbands (each her own) on the evening of the wedding.
Which they did, except one of them, Hypermnestra, who spared her husband Lynceus because she said he respected her (or according to others because she had fallen in love).
They paid the last honours to their husbands before the city of Argos. They buried the bodies in this city but their heads in Lerna.
On Zeus’s order, they were then purified of the murder by Hermes and Athena.
According to some sources, their father married them to gentlemen of the neighborhood who chose each their wife at the end of a running race. Pindar mentions that two girls were not married on this occasion: Hypermnestra who was already married to Lynceus, and Amymone who was impregnated by Poseidon.
Here ends the myth as reported by Apollodorus, which exposes the most commonly accepted versions. Much later versions added the exemplary punishment of the Danaids in the kingdom of Hades.
This myth describes the need to display “alertness, intelligence” (Anchinoe) at the highest possible level of perfection. As explained, this is not a step to be overcome, but a repetitive process associated with the myth of Perseus and Heracles, a progression composed of many cycles. Like in the myths, the story relates the last stage of the process.
Two paths are open to the seeker, those of Danaos and Aegyptus. The story here above might suggest that there is not much to be inferred from the second at the end of the process, with the exception of the sole survivor, Lynceus “ penetrative insight, Λυγκευς” i.e. “discernment” (the name Lynceus is often interpreted as “one who heals the sight”). But, in fact, we shall see that not only all the components of the being must be brought to their highest level of development, but that any progress must be continued, even if there is a change of positioning in the consciousness.
Belos enthroned Danaos in Libya (Λ+Β) in the place of “incarnation of the process of liberation”, or place of the quest for Freedom. The very name of Danaos is formed by the structuring letters Δ+Ν and indicates a “natural evolution in or towards union”.
The possible achievements of this pathway that works on the totality of the being, in acceptance and intuitive receptivity (feminine path), are given by the names of the fifty girls. There are two lists, one of Apollodorus and that of Hyginus. We will not explain them here, because on one hand they are not confirmed by the initiates and on the other hand, their study requires long discussions. Their names evoke nobility, impeccability, control, aspiration, eagerness, or “famous achievements, integrations (acquired by understanding)” and “pursuit of a passage (door)”.
As for their mothers, only a few names are listed, giving the recommended general direction to the novice seeker: Europa “the one with broad vision” (cited four times), Polyxo “the one that gets a lot from above” (cited twelve times), and Pieria “an abundance of gifts”. They express an expansion of consciousness beyond the dogmas, opinions and prejudices, maintaining a state of clear intuitive receptivity, and insist on the development of the higher capacities (Pieria is the abode of the Muses).
These Danaids are fifty in number, i.e. they represent a total realisation in terms of forms, that of personality.
The most famous of them who alone can be summarized as the driving force of this path is Hypermnestra “the one who seeks what is beyond”, i.e. “aspiration” to another state of being, to a union with the Real.
In contrast to Danaos, another part of the seeker is more focused on the development of the logical mind, the organizing thought. It is represented by Aegyptus whose father was enthroned in an Arabian (Ρ+Β) province which symbolises both the “right movement of the Incarnation” and “the clash of objects” (or clash of ideas which operates the construction of thought).
As we have seen, the word Aegyptus may have been formed from the root αγ associated with the name Ptah and describes “those who are led by the order of Ptah”.
In ancient Egypt, Ptah was the demiurge, the creator and organiser god who “thought” and ruled the world of architecture, carpentry, sculpture and in general all forms of “constructions”. He was therefore a symbol of the organisation of the mind. His main place of worship was in Memphis.
The sons of Aegyptus were also fifty in number and represented an entire development of a free and broad thinking.
This part of the myth insists on the fact that the spiritual search should start on the basis of an accomplished personality that is already individualized, gifted with discernment, and whose aspiration for union with the Absolute has replaced that of self-assertiveness. Anything that has not been developed properly will require the seeker to go back to fix it.
These two paths, those of intuitive receptivity and intellect, can appear as irreconcilable or at least grow in directions that seem completely different from one another. Hence, the twin brothers were fighting for power. Further, the logical thought tends by its nature to impose its vision, Aegyptus was impatient to marry his sons to their cousins.
This pressure was accentuated when he annexed his kingdom to the territory of Melampodes “the black feet”, thus distancing increasingly the logical mind from the material and physical reality.
Melampus “one who has black feet” was in fact a famous soothsayer whose ears had been purified by snakes, which allowed him to understand the language of birds. (There are several lineages of soothsayers. This one here refers to the intuition and divine abilities that develop in “the ascension of the planes of consciousness” and therefore from the spiritual planes.)
Initially, the consecration approach must protect itself from the pressure of the intellect. Then, “the aspiration for unity” (Danaos), under the influence of the power that ensures the growth of the inner being (on the advice of Athena) emerges as the most qualified to run the quest based on a fully constructed personality (Danaos built the first large ship with fifty rows of oars). Danaos took the direction of the city of Argos, in place of Gelanor whose name means “the shining one”. This Gelanor, the son of Sthenelas “a strong individuation” is the symbol of accomplished personality.
The sign of this shift is the ability of the emerging psychic being to begin the quest. The “sign” which is given – a wolf breaking into the herd of Gelanor and killing the dominating bull – illustrates the nascent psychic light (the wolf) which dethrones the mental power (non-illuminated) oriented towards realisation. A cult is then founded in honor of Apollo “Lykaios”, the first glimmer of the manifestation of psychic light. From that moment, the psychic begins to gradually take charge of the quest (the citadel of Argos), reviving the passage of the formerly available energy – which had withdrawn to the background during evolution – to follow the path: Danaïdes rediscover the sources that Poseidon (the subconscious) had dried up. The work of getting the being together (Inachos) was subject to the movement of becoming, ruled by Hera, the force that ensures fair evolutionary movement (Inachos testified that the country belonged to Hera).
The seeker leaves the obscurity and is determined to surrender to the Real (Pelasgians become Danaans).
But thought maintained until the very end its claim to govern all. Also, the part devoted to “being” must finally acknowledge the full realisation of the right logical mind before stopping it: forty-nine unions were pronounced though Danaos had already sealed their fate shortly after.
This integration is not an annihilation, but only a change in the governance and operating mode of the mental being. The intuition must take charge and the organising capacity of the mind must be mobilized, if required. It is no longer necessary to use logical thinking to predict.
Having experienced countless times this progressive transfer, the seeker only retains in the forefront the key achievements of his mental realisation, the “discernment” of Lynceus. This allows “aspiration” represented by Hypermnestra to take full force. She was indeed the only one to save her husband Lynceus “the keen insight, discernment” to whom she bore a son, Abas, who continued the lineage.
The elders had stressed the need to support the “aspiration” (by broadening of the consciousness, deploying the abilities, etc.) – aspiration that feeds the inner fire – and simultaneously to develop a “keen understanding” to avoid infinitely subtle traps that keep manifesting constantly on the path of the seeker.
The latter recognises the utility of the development of the logical mind (the Danaids paid the last honours to the bodies of their husbands in the city of Argos). But burying the heads in Lerna says what motivated the seeker and led the way; until then there was nothing other than the mental ego sustained by the desire (the heads had therefore to be “returned” to Lerna, symbolic place of desire as explained in the second Labour of Heracles).
But as long as the seeker has not fully developed his discernment – it is Lynceus who takes the title of King of Argos following Danaos – he cannot claim to dispense using the separative logical mind, the intellect at its highest level.
As this complete development of the logical mind followed by its abandonment-integration is the integral part of the just evolutionary process, the Danaids were naturally purified of their murder by Hermes and Athena, the forces contributing to growth in the mind and to the construction of the inner being.
This purification therefore immediately eliminates any subsequent punishment. According to Apollodorus, Danaos gave his daughters to the winners of a gymnastics competition, expressing the need, in addition to the discernment and aspiration, of softening and of an increased endurance.
However, in the later tradition, the Danaids had to undergo an exemplary punishment in Hades. According to some, they had to draw water with pierced jugs, and according to others, they were trying to fill a cask pierced with holes, which in both cases is an unending process.
According to the oldest known sources, this futile task was the lot of “winged shadows” in Tartarus or Hades, and thus refers to mental processes that repeat indefinitely in the unconscious body and which face the adventurers of the consciousness. This, therefore, suggests that it was wrongly attributed to the Danaids.
Before continuing to explore the main lineage, note that the only other Danaid offspring mentioned is Amymone “the impeccable”. She united with Poseidon near Lerna and bore him a son, Nauplius “the marine”, “the one who skillfully navigates the path” or “the intelligence of the path”, who was the father of Palamedes “the artisan of the union”. (The latter foils the ploys of Odysseus when the hero tries to escape enrolling in the Trojan War.)
This relationship highlights the firstly subconscious then long-term effects of a certain rectitude or impeccability (this rectitude which is about feeling what is the fairest and most exact thing to do must not be confused with what is commonly called virtue). It manifests itself primarily by “an intelligence of the spiritual journey” coming from the subconscious, a faculty to progress rapidly despite the obstacles and deadlocks (Nauplius is a great navigator), then again by a largely subconscious force (Palamede, “the artisan of the union”) which always brings the seeker on to the path, despite his misdemeanor, mistakes or refusals.
Among the sons of Aegyptus, Lynceus was the only survivor of the massacre perpetrated by the Danaids. He unites with Hypermnestra who had spared him with the consent of Danaos, her father, who offered him his kingdom.
From this royal couple was born a son, Abas, an equal heir of the two brothers, Danaus and Aegyptus. Lynceus offered to him on that occasion a shield that had belonged to his own father Danaos in his youth. There quinquennial games called “the Games of the Shield of Argos” were then celebrated.
As an adult, Abas married Aglaia, the daughter of Mantineus, from whom he had twins named Acrisius and Proetus.
If Danaus and Aegyptus were enemies, the rivalry was worse among their grandchildren who were already tearing at each other in their mother’s womb.
After the death of their father Abas, they came to arms to settle the inheritance of the kingdom. (A legend claims that Proetus won the support of the King of Lycia who gave him both his daughter Stheneboia and his troops to ensure equality of forces between the two armies.) As the fight could not help decide who was the strongest between them, a compromise was reached where the kingdom was divided into two equal parts: Acrisios reigned over Argos while Proetus build a new city, Tiryns. The Cyclopes fortified it for him.
Based on the discernement (Lynceus) and aspiration (Hypermnestra) begins a second loop that involves more incarnation, as indicated by the structuring letter of the name of their son Abas (Β). The latter inherited the shield of Danaos, representing “protection” that the seeker develops during the first loop, the result of work symbolised by the names of the daughters of Danaus and especially that of their mothers, a “coming together” of disparate elements of personality, an expansion of consciousness (Europa), an increase of intuitive receptivity (Polyxo) and the development of the highest capacity (Pieria). This transmission of the shield is a very important milestone, the end of the structuring of free and broad thinking (the son of Aegyptus) of which only the ability of discernment remains – an indispensable protection on the path – which was then celebrated by the “Games of the Shield of Argos”.
Abas married Aglaia “the one who shines”, the daughter of Mantineus “evolution of intuitive abilities”: the second phase, which works on deeper levels of being (Abas) requires the development of the receptivity of the seeker.
With their twin sons, Proetus and Acrisius, a second internal opposition is highlighted, and this from the beginning of the path, as they were already fighting in their mother’s womb: on one side is “the emphasis on spiritual worlds” (Proetus, Pro+ΙΤ) neglecting the transformation of the lower nature, and on the other side is the involvement in the “confusion” of the world in order to transform it. (Here we have given the interpretation based on the current understanding of the word ακρισια “lack of order, confusion”. However, Acrisios could also be understood as a desire to “not separate” (α-κρισις) the spirit from the matter, which would lead to a different interpretation of this passage that shall not be discussed here.)
This opposition is manifested all the more especially when the seeker aspires to more incarnation (Abas). Of the two brothers, it was Acrisius who succeeded the throne of Argos because priority should be given to work in incarnation. Proetus reigned over Tiryns but still had to give up a part of his kingdom (to Bias and to his brother Melampus), and his daughters suffered various inconveniences: he is the symbol of one who seeks union with the Absolute in the Spiritual world and accordingly risks disorders of the mental and the vital due to a lack of basis in reality.
In fact, the struggle continues throughout the quest as long as Perseus did not definitively defeat the Gorgon. It resumes after each victory towards a progressive conquest of freedom guided by the Labours of Heracles.
Acrisios unites with Eurydice “a right way to act” (One of twelve namesakes of Eurydice must not to be confused with the wife of Orpheus). This Eurydice was a daughter of Lacedaemon “the divinity who resounds (in the being) with force”, who himself was the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Taygete. This alliance expresses the intended objective (and therefore the means used) which is integrity (agreement of acts and the inner feeling). It further indicates that the final victory over the deformation of the life energy can only be acquired at the level of the intuitive mind (Taygetus), plane just before the overmind.
From this union was born a famous daughter, Danae, the mother of Perseus, who we shall discuss later.
Proetus was chased out of Argos by his brother and fled to Lycia, to the king Iobates whose daughter Anteia he married (named Stheneboea in the Tragic plays). His stepfather brought him the necessary assistance for his return to Argos and allowed him to capture Tiryns that the Cyclops fortified for him (or he built this new city). From Anteia, Proetus first had two daughters, Lysippos and Iphianassa (some also include Iphinoe) then much later a son named Megapenthes.
Although the path that represents Proetus excludes evolution in incarnation, it tends to a union with the spiritual worlds, and with the impersonal Divine. According to Homer, Proetus married the divine Anteia “the one who met with the consciousness-existence (or the impersonal Divine or Self)”. She was the daughter of the king of Lycia, a symbol of the highest of the dawning lights.
However, this light should be applied to incarnation. Also, the king of Lycia offered his assistance to Proetus in Argos, who then moved to Tiryns. This last name (Τιρυνς) could have originated from Τ+Ρ+Ν, “the evolution of a just movement towards the Spirit”, that would confirm the involvement of the Cyclops who fortified the city for him, providing the basis for a powerful unified vision (the Cyclops are the symbols of a complete vision and therefore knowledge).
The reign of Proetus was marked by two major events: the visit of Bellerophon and the folly of his daughters.
Bellerophon came to be purified by Proetus for the accidental murder of his brother Deliades.
The wife of Proetus then complained to her husband about the alleged advances of Bellerophon who actually had only rebuffed hers. Proetus believed her, but could not punish a host who he had to purify; he sent Bellerophon to the king of Lycia, asking him secretly to perform the death sentence for him. This latter carried out the sentence by sending the hero to fight against the Chimera.
Bellerophon, as we shall see in detail in the next chapter, is the hero who conquered “the illusion”. He is a descendant of Sisyphus and his symbolism relates to a particular function of the intellect. Symbolised by the Chimera, daughter of Echidna and Typhon, the illusion is deeply rooted in matter and in life.
When Proetus received Bellerophon, he had succumbed to an illusion because he accidentally killed his brother Deliades “clarity, clear vision”. This accidental murder is only mentioned by Euripides, and is, therefore, questionable. However, this seems consistent to us with the rest of myth.
If there is purification, then obscuration was necessary. But the seeker does not realise his mistake, because when he is provided with a new opportunity for the expansion of consciousness (the union proposed by Anteia) to a sufficient degree to prevent him from fighting against the illusion in the incarnation (the Chimera), he refuses. He does not accept the “grace” that was offered to him because, depending on the patterns generated by millennia of evolution, intellect relies solely on its own light. The seeker cannot imagine that the Absolute, if by chance he accepts His governance, may be better able than the intellect to direct him. In the Agenda (Volume 8, 8 February 1967), Mother made the same observation in the cells, which “think”, knowing better how to care for a disorder of the body than would the Divine.
This is, therefore, “the highest level of nascent light” (the king of Lycia) that sends the hero to fight the Chimera.
This episode of Proetus’s life connects with the branch of Sisyphus (the achievements of the logical mind) and indicates that overcoming fear is closely linked to the illusion (see the chapter on Bellerophon). To start with, the seeker cannot any more consider external events as “incidental” and justify his imperfections by heredity, education or environment, accepting with closed eyes the dogmas and -isms of all kinds, etc.
The second significant event during the reign of Proetus was the madness of his daughters, Lysippos and Iphianassa (including Iphinoe in some texts), wandering in Arcadia and in Peloponnese. For some, their fault was to have refused the rites of Dionysus. For others, it was to have claimed that the palace of their father was more opulent than that of Hera.
In order to heal them, Proetus asked the help of the famous soothsayer Melampus (the son of Amythaon) who demanded part of his kingdom as payment. Their madness lasted ten years.
According to Apollodorus, Proetus first refused all the requirements of the soothsayer. Then, he had to give in and surrender an even larger share of the kingdom, as Melampus finally demanded a third of his kingdom for him and a third for his brother Bias.
During the intervention of the soothsayer, Iphinoe died. The other two girls were purified and united, Iphianassa to Melampus and Lysippos to Bias.
This version of Apollodorus is contradicted by most others that state that Pero, the daughter of Neleus, an offspring of Salmoneus, is the wife of Melampus and the successor of the lineage. The version followed here, establishes a bridge between the two great lineages of Oceanus and Iapetus.
Argolis was thus divided into four kingdoms that were ruled respectively by Acrisius (the king of Argos), Proetus (the king of Tiryns), and Melampus and Bias. This division was followed a little later by an exchange of kingdoms between Perseus, the king of Argos (and his citadel, Larissa) and Megapenthes, the king of Tiryns. Perseus also founded Mycenae. It was Tisamenus, the son of Orestes, who reunited the kingdoms of Mycenae and Sparta inherited from Agamemnon to that of Argos over which reigned Diomedes.
The descendants of Bias and Melampus play an important role in the wars of Thebes. Argolis regained its unity only long after the Trojan War, under the grand-son of Agamemnon.
The first daughter of Proetus, Lysippos, is the symbol of “liberated energy (vital)” and the second, Iphianassa, that of a “great power”.
If the directions described here lead to various disorders and wanderings, it is because the seeker refuses to call the Divine for His grace and ecstasy (the Dionysian rites) or is seduced by a path that seems to bring more “wealth” than that of the right way (the palace of Proetus was supposedly more opulent than that of Hera, that is to say the experiences in the worlds of spirit are more significant than those found on the right path).
The disorders and deviances can be of all kinds but seem to be explained, according to the names of the two girls, by an intrusion of an excessive and uncontrolled vital. Perhaps the names also refer to a wrong use of obtained “knowledge”, sometimes source of “powers” that symbolize the “wealth” of the palace of Proetus.
Most authors consider that mental power that “highlights the spiritual worlds” (Proetus) is not sufficient to restore order and that mobilization of higher “intuition” from the spirit (represented here by the soothsayer Melampus) is required, even if this intuition is delayed by ten symbolic years.
According to Bacchylides, Proetus himself healed his daughters, offering to Artemis twenty heads of cattle with red hair to intervene with Hera: the seeker too exclusively turned towards the spiritual world, purifies through action the achievements gained from his sensitivity (equivalent to consciousness) to resume his quest in the right direction.
Some authors including Apollodorus state that while restoring order, Iphinoe had to die because the domination of “the ability to think” had to stop.
We must pause here a moment to discuss the soothsayer Melampus, because this is an example where the characters from the path of ascension in the mind – Melampus and Bias, the descendants of Aeolus through his fifth son, Cretheus – intervene on the path of purification. Melampus is related to what is received from the spiritual planes. His powers of divination appeared around the first experience of contact with the Absolute – Melampus is in fact the cousin of Jason (Ref. board 12), the hero of the Golden Fleece – and has only gained importance subsequently.
Melampus paid the funeral honors to the snakes whose nest was in an oak tree outside his house and had been killed by his servants. He raised their offspring who grew up and cleaned his ears with their tongues while he slept. He then began to understand the calls of birds. Instructed by them, he began to predict the future of men and was reputed to have been the first mortal to have such powers. He then learned to practice the sacred divination, and when he met Apollo on the banks of the Alpheus, he became the best soothsayer thenceforth.
The seeker integrated the evolution of the highest abilities of his vital-mental personality (snakes nestled in an oak tree, the most noble of all trees, the most accomplished: Ulysses consults “the hair of a divine oak”; Odyssey, XIV 327) and unlocks another mode of perception. Melampus is the first of the lineage of soothsayers from Amythaon “he who enters the silence, who is without personal history”, who united with Eidomene “the one who sees”. He is, therefore, a symbol of progress towards a vision free from influences of personal history and achieved in the heights of the spirit (he is indeed the man with “black feet” and therefore moved away from incarnation, material things).
These new capabilities of “knowledge” are instilled within the seeker without him being able to understand the process (because Melampus was “asleep”). However, it was he himself who prepared this evolution by changing his evolutionary process. He was helped to accomplish this by developing new “yoga methods” which cleansed his superior intuition (the servants of Melampus had killed the snakes’ parents, but he had fed their young, and they cleansed his ears).
The initial abilities of perception refer to the spiritual planes: “The calls of the birds”. This must not be confused with what the modern esotericism calls “the bird language” (which proceeds by analogy and phonetic equivalent) and simply reveals one of the aspects of synchronicity of the Real.
Then, his understanding of the “sacred” increasingly expanded, in an increasingly close relationship between what is perceived and the Truth. (Sacred in: “τὴν διὰ τῶν ἱερῶν μαντικήν”: the term ἱερῶν we believe is often mistranslated as the word “sacrifice”.)
He then became capable of knowing his task and the use of the various “experiences” of his present incarnation “Melampus can predict the future of men”,
Finally, the contact with his psychic being (Apollo) in the province of the union (Elis, where the Alpheus flows), enhances the mental intuitive perceptions by the exact knowledge of what is and what must be, both in action, feeling and thought (Melampus from thenceforth was the best soothsayer).
We can now continue the story of Proetus
After the division of Argolis, Proetus had a son, Megapenthes.
According to Apollodorus, when Perseus killed the Gorgon, his grandfather Acrisius who feared the fulfillment of the prophecy fled to Larissa. The prophecy was that his daughter Danae would have a son but that this son would kill him.
Perseus who wished to see him back on the throne of Argos accidentally killed him while participating in games. Refusing to take the throne of Argos which he must have legitimately inherited, he proposed an exchange of kingdoms with his uncle, Megapenthes. He enthroned the city of Tiryns and fortified Midea and Mycenae (Tiryns had already been fortified by the Cyclops under the reign of Acrisios).
Although he treaded the path of “confusion” and “lack of understanding”, the seeker had always sought the right way (Argos), the right way to act (Acrisios united with Eurydice) until the victory over vital lust, fear and illusion, with the assistance of the union with the Self (the divine Anteia united with Proetus).
The victories of Perseus and Bellerophon ended the “confusion” and lack of discernment, even if the seeker still has a certain attraction for the old ways (Perseus wanted to enthrone his grandfather Acrisius but he accidentally kills him). After each progression in the loops, the suffering of the seeker increases either because of his increasing sensitivity to the pain of the world that lives in separation: it is Megapenthes “great suffering” who then ascended the throne of Argos.
By moving Perseus away from the throne, the elders could then create a separate lineage dedicated to the greater orientation of liberation work (the exploits of Heracles, the great-grand-son of Perseus), preventing the seeker from attempting to search for any equivalence with his progress on the path.
The myth tells us that Argos was divided into three kingdoms – kingdom of Megapenthes (path of purification), of Bias, and of Melampus (path of ascent) – which were not united until well after the Trojan War: the seeker can only reconcile in himself these three ways after orienting his yoga towards achieving full transparency and the yoga of the body.
The seeker, therefore, works in three different registers of which he does not perceive the unity, or which he is not capable to move forward together in a coherent way.
On one hand, most of his quest is in the hands of Megapenthes, the new King of Argos whose name “great suffering” expresses in the seeker the growing painful awareness of being “separated” first from his deep self, then from humanity when the union with the Self is achieved. It is the expression of an increasingly lively sensitivity, a consecration and an increasingly strong aspiration to unite with the Absolute and with all forms of existence.
The kingdom of Melampus is the one of progressive development of an intuitive and perceptive capacity, starting with the mental intuitions which are gradually joined by those of the psychic. This allows a growing perception of the truth within the Self as well as within others. The seeker is less and less subjected to illusion and can avoid misleading paths and influences.
Finally, the kingdom of Bias “the force” expresses an increasing energy for the quest. First with his first wife Lysippos, it will be “a liberated (vital) force (for the yoga)”. Then, with his second wife Pero and their son Talaos “the one who supports”, he develops into an essential element in the pursuit of yoga, “the endurance”.
The kingdom of Mycenae founded by Perseus belongs to Argolis and therefore somehow is the fourth kingdom, though it is rather considered by the elders as a “cap” over the other three because Mycenae dominates Argolis. The name Mycenae is related to the “howling” of the bull, and therefore with “ the structure of the realisation power of the luminous mind”.
After Perseus, it was governed by his son Sthenelus, then, by Eurystheus, Atreus, Agamemnon, Orestes and finally Tisamenus who united the kingdoms of Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos and Sparta.
The myth of Perseus
After studying the lineage of Proetus, we discuss here the offspring of his twin brother and enemy, Acrisios “one who advances into the confusion”.
Acrisius, the King of Argos, married Eurydice, the daughter of Lacedemon, the king of Sparta, priestess of the cult of Hera. They had a daughter Danae but could not conceive a male heir. Also, Acrisios consulted the oracle who told him that his wife would not give birth to a son. However, his daughter would have one who would kill him.
In order to escape the prediction, he built a bronze underground chamber and imprisoned Danae. Zeus fell in love with the girl and entered the chamber in the form of a shower of gold through a crack in the roof and consummated with her. Some say that Proetus was the human lover.
Some time later, Danae gave birth to Perseus whom she raised in secret. But soon Acrisius discovered him. Not wanting to believe in his divine origin, he locked Danae in a chest with him and threw it into the sea.
The chest drifted to the island of Serifos where Polydectes the tyrant, the son of Magnes reigned. They were picked in the nets of the brother of King Dictys, a kind fisherman as opposed to his brother, who watched over them until the maturity of the child.
Then the king saw Danae and fell in love with her, but did not know how to win her favours. So, he looked for a way to get rid of Perseus who watched over his mother.
He then made it known that he was eager to win the hand of Hippodamia, the daughter of Oenomaus. According to some, he needed contributions to raise dowry for his marriage. According to others, he needed the best horses to outweigh Oenomaus who forced the contenders for the hand of his daughter to compete against him in a chariot race and killed the losers. But as the horses of the suitors could not compete with his own who were of divine origin, no competitor could escape him.
Perseus proclaimed to the king that he would not only give him a horse but also the head of the Gorgon if required. The king took him at his word and asked him to bring the head of Medusa, knowing he would get rid of him because whoever looked at the Gorgon was instantly turned to stone.
(It seems that the ability to petrify that Apollodorus attributed not only to Medusa but to the three Gorgons must either be an error or another symbolic attribution.)
Although he progresses with a “lack of judgment” (Acrisius), the seeker is in the quest for “the right manner to act” (Eurydice). However, this confusion cannot lead to any active path of the yoga (Acrisios cannot have a male heir) and the seeker knows intuitively that this confusion will disappear when he rids himself of his fears and vital lust (Acrisius was warned that his grandson would kill him).
According to scholiasts of Pherecydes, mythologist of the 5th century BC, Acrisius married Eurydice symbolizing the “fair way to act”. This is one of the namesakes of Eurydice who must not be confused with the wife of Orpheus. She is the daughter of Lacedaemon “resounding divinity”, who is the son of Zeus and Taygete: this relationship suggests that the Gorgon – the disturbances caused at the root of life by fear, etc. – can only be defeated at the level of the intuitive mind (Taygetos is the sixth Pleiades) so that the adventurer of consciousness can gradually move into the overmind (plane of Maia).
Therefore, the seeker must first tread the path with a receptive attitude towards unity and selflessness as represented by Danae. But the ego knows that this attitude shall lead to its demise. So, it causes the receptive part that works in union (Danae) to be dismissed from his consciousness by enclosing it in a hidden part of his being (an underground chamber in bronze). He arranges so that the consequence (Danae) of the “just way of acting” towards which he was tending (Eurydice) remains inoperative (can not be fertilized), knowing that such fertilization would produce the means of his loss (the birth of Perseus).
Indifferent to the internal conflict (Acrisios and Proetus), the highest of consciousness (Zeus) responds to the aspiration for union with the Divine without the knowledge of the seeker (Danae is fertilised without the knowledge of Acrisios). There is an “impregnation” of consciousness that cannot be prevented by anything (a shower of gold passes through the bars).
Following this union, Danae gave birth to Perseus “the one who destroys (the animal ego)” and raised him secretly: the required forces grow without the knowledge of the seeker. When the “confused” part of the seeker realises that its destruction is prepared, it tries to prevent it, refusing to consider that this is a result of his own aspiration (Acrisius locked Perseus in a box and denies the divine origin of the child).
The island of Serifos where the chest lands is the symbol of what remains “attached to what has fallen from above” within the being, the fertilisation by Zeus. This island is ruled by Polydectes “the one who receives a lot”. He is one of the sons of Magnes “aspiration”, the son of Aeolus. It is therefore normal that the forces required to fight grew in his territory. (Note that the Eole-Magnes filiation is uncertain. See the chapter on the children of Aeolus.)
But it is not he who rescues the child and his mother and watches over them, but his brother, a fisherman who found the chest in his nets, Dictys “one which uses the net”. The king, apparently, was not even informed.
(According to Pherecydes, Polydectes, the son of Magnes, is a half-brother of Diktys, son of Peristhenes, born of the same mother, Androthoe, the daughter of Perikastor. Polydectes is also another name of Hades, which is understandable when you consider that the unconscious records everything that is rejected from the subconscious.)
The king Polydectes represents the receptive part of the seeker, who continues to receive “from above”, while his brother Dictys, “the fisherman with the net”, symbolises work, humility and incarnation in the world. Perhaps also a form of investigation of the subconscious (fishing with a net).
When the time came and the seeker had accumulated sufficient forces or “an irresistible force” through incarnation (Dictys is the son of Peristhenes) he then can achieve progress in the union: the king falls in love with Danae.
But this progress involves the disappearance of the corresponding fear: the king must send Perseus to fight against the Gorgon.
The seeker, in his receptive part (Polydectes), thinks himself able to access a certain mastery over the vital force (compete for the hand of Hippodamia “the one who tamed the horse, the vital force”) obtained by the aspiration for joy (Oenomaus “the one who seeks divine intoxication”) combined with an installation in the higher mind (Sterope, wife of Oenomaus). But this cannot be done as long as there are obstacles within the vital ego.
However, Perseus does not leave for combat by order of the king or by some other obligation, but only after what seems to have been mere boasting. Thus, the struggle and victory over fear cannot be programmed but can only crown a laborious preparation and commitment “through defiance” in due course. In fact, the fight against fear organised by the mind does not work as long as the seeker cannot end the almost automatic identification with the vital ego. The will of the external being is often unable to overcome the fears that are deeply rooted within the being.
Guided by Hermes and Athena, Perseus went to three “old” Graeae, daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, and therefore sisters of the Gorgons. Between these three, they only had one eye and one tooth which they had to use in turns. Perseus took them away when they were being exchanged and refused to give them back as long as the Graeae would not reveal to him the road which led to the Nymphs. The latter were in fact the custodians of objects indispensable to overcome the Gorgons, the helmet of invisibility of Hades, the winged sandals, and the “kibisis” which was a gold-fringed silver bag.
Perseus recovered these magical accessories from the Nymphs and Hermes gave him one more – an adamantine sickle (Harp).
Then he rose into the air with his winged sandals and crossed the ocean, accompanied by Hermes and Athena. He then crawled to the house of the Gorgons where he found them asleep.
The two deities showed him which of the three was Medusa, the only mortal one, and advised him to avoid her gaze when he would cut off her head. (Some authors add that Athena guided his hand and used a shield as a mirror so as not to meet her eyes).
From her severed neck sprang Pegasus “the winged horse” and Chrysaor “the man with the golden sword” (And also “golden light” if αωρ can be compared with the Hebrew root), that Medusa had conceived from her union with Poseidon.
The other two Gorgons chased the hero but he escaped, by wearing the helmet of Invisibility of Hades, and carrying the head of Medusa hidden in his “kibisis” (bag).
Despite its apparent simplicity, this myth makes use of complex concepts, especially in its complementary relationship with that of the Lernaean Hydra (See theYoga of self-perfection, Sri Aurobindo, Chapters 1-9)
However, it should not be surprising given the difficulty for human science to establish a common classification of primary human functioning.
The energy of life itself, limited in its early animal manifestations by the unconsciousness, was first manifested by the “life instinct” that wants to own and satisfy the vital greed.
Then, a deviance happened when the animal was directed towards individuation in the third and fourth stages of development of life, those of Phorcys and Ceto (Ref. Volume 1, Chapter 3). This interruption in evolution in the union (Echidna is the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto) contributed to the formation of the animal ego, sourced in the vital plane of suffering, fear, pleasure and pain, and the need to meet the necessities of survival, both individual and collective.
When this limited life energy, gathered around a first vital animal ego, interferes in the lower planes of the human mind, it generates:
– in the sensory mind: the thirst for sensations, the natural inclination to move towards what we like and flee from what we dislike, aversions and repulsions. But it also develops in its root the same attraction for the excess in sensation, and therefore both for violent pleasure as well as suffering, for perfection and harmony as well as their opposites.
– in the emotional mind: false emotions and disorders, anger, fears and hopes related to emotions, shame and guilt, and in general, the attachments of the heart, passions, need for self-affirmation, domination and possession, need to satisfy the impulses of feeling, need to cultivate antipathies and sympathies, to satiate love (its predatory caricature) and hatred.
– in intelligence: desire in all its forms (including ambition, quest for power, etc.) which is a strain of pure Will in which the objects themselves become the source of enjoyment and possession, not the Absolute through them.
These are all manifestations of “interruption of the evolution in the union” combined with “the fundamental ignorance” which, in man, arise from “bogs” of vital nature in the form of the Hydra.
In fact, for Homer, the two mythological monsters seem to cover the entire process: “Gorgo”, for which he does not mention the filiation, and the Lernaean Hydra.
It is Hesiod who offers us a consistent genealogy for various monsters. The duality in life which appears with the couple Phorcys/ Ceto, gave rise to the Graeae (the basics of memory and consciousness), the three Gorgons, of which only one is mortal (only Medusa appears in a dual state) and the Viper Echidna (interruption of evolution in the union).
Gorgo is, therefore, concomitant with the “interruption of evolution in the union”. It represents the centralising movement which characterises and constructs the animal ego, with such expressions and consequences of lust and fear.
It must be noted that in human consciousness, the alliance of this emerging duality or perversion of evolution (Echidna) and the outcome of ignorance from Nescience (Typhon issued from Tartarus or from Hera) generated the four major monsters inherent to man, Orthrus the dog, Cerberus, the Chimera and the Lernaean Hydra.
So, the Gorgons precede the Hydra in evolution (fear precedes the movement to grab).
The Gorgons live in the Far West and therefore at the root of conscious life while the Hydra inhabits the marshes of Lerna, an area that may be associated with human desire.
On the other hand, no one can approach the Gorgons carelessly because they petrify the viewer, while Heracles could grab the Hydra in his second labour.
Also note that the Hydra was raised by Hera, i.e. by the exact movement of evolution of human consciousness.
If the Gorgons are human in appearance while the Hydra is a sea serpent with one or more heads (though we would expect rather the opposite), it is probably because the Gorgon, the symbol of consequence of the development of the animal ego to be abandoned when the time has come, is inseparable from the animal individuation process which man has inherited in his corporal memories.
Conversely, the desire, which should not be confused with the need nor with the true Will, is an intrusion of that life energy distorted within the intelligence and therefore not essential for a just evolution.
Therefore, according to some authors, the Hydra has no wings, while those of the Gorgons are made of gold: which confirms that these correspond to a just movement of ongoing mentalisation required for individuation.
Finally, when the Gorgon is decapitated by Perseus, a liberated life energy or force of the vital plane (Pegasus, the winged horse) and a pure and Unbreakable Will (Chrysaor) appear, while nothing appeared with the death of the Hydra.
All these elements lead us to attribute to the Gorgon Medusa the most archaic processes of individuation in life, usually reflexes and instincts related to fear, attractions/repulsions, vital pleasure/pain or domination/submission, and their consequences.
And the Hydra is more the symbol of desire, deformation of the will in the mind that wants to seize what it believes not to possess, and its associate, the crab, symbolises the movement of capture or “seizure” that cannot let go. Undoubtedly we can also associate shame and guilt with the Hydra. Mental suffering and doubt are more consequences of Typhon and Echidna.
However, considering that the extinction of all desire is also that of fear, that we cease to fear when one ceases to hope, then we see why it can be difficult to distinguish between the two monsters and to understand their mythological variants.
In particular, it is clear from the multiplicity of genealogies that the elders in their writings and in their performances did not always assign the same meaning to symbols, which may explain some differences in the pictures and their descriptions.
If we ignore the descriptions that have been proposed by Hesiod and those of later accounts by only retaining the representations of figurative art, we see that the Gorgon mostly has human form. Only its head which sprouts many snakes presents a hideous appearance while Hydra is a sea monster, a sea serpent with many heads.
The Gorgon could on that basis alone be then associated with pure mental delusions in humans – doubt, shame and guilt – all three which are also paralysing and are consequences of separation in the mind. And Hydra would rather be the image of this same separation in the vital plane, with its consequences, fear and desire.
If the Gorgon represents a more archaic process than the Hydra, it will logically be completely defeated well after the Hydra, even if it comes first in the family tree of Heracles. Let us recall that in fact, these processes are interwoven and repeat themselves
The Gorgon would then be the expression of the centralising movement of the ego, which, ending the evolution in unity, introduces – when we lose touch with Reality (the material things, the body) – fear in the vital and doubt in the mind, the two “paralyzing” processes of action. Thus, the mere sight of the Gorgon might be petrifying.
The myth in which the great healer Asclepius (Aesculapius) raises the dead can provide further insight.
Asclepius had received from Athena the blood that had flowed from the neck of the Gorgon. With the blood flowing through the left veins, he would kill men, while with the blood in the right veins, he could raise the dead. Zeus was annoyed and struck him.
It must be noted that he could not raise any “dead”, but only “those who died at mount Delphi”, i.e. the elements incorporated within the psychic in this life or in past lives.
The Gorgon can then be associated with the veil of unconsciousness between the so-called life and the so-called death, and the blood on its right side would represent the stream of consciousness that runs through the veil from the bottom up, making it possible to return to the consciousness of past psychic experiences. In this veil that creates the first separation (and that can be associated with the first veil of the tree of Sephiroth) is the origin of the biggest fear, that of death. Many initiates have claimed that looking through this veil can be terrifying for those who are not prepared.
It is on this basis that we will discuss the different stories about the Gorgons.
As daughters of Phorcys and Ceto, they manifest during the creation of the “animal me” from embryos of memory and consciousness (the Graeae). They are therefore not concerned by the archaic processes of life (survival mechanisms, reproduction, etc.) from the cellular stage to that of the “thinking senses” (Thaumas), who are not managed by a central brain.
Basically, Gorgo (or Gorgons: Medusa, Euryale and Stheno) represent the life energy that supports mental activities (they are winged) – which is the definition of “psychic prana” given by Sri Aurobindo, to be distinguished from the “physical prana”, which supports the body’s activities – and who is subjected to deformation at the beginning of the mental polarisation (Ceto) when movement of individuation appeared necessary to get out of the animal group functioning.
The highest expression of this life energy, purified and freed from its limitations, on the path of the enjoyment and possession of the Divine, manifested itself through a pure will and power free of any limitations (Chrysaor “the man with the golden sword” or “exact action”, and the winged horse Pegasus, the life energy released from its limitations) that become available when the Gorgon dies.
This energy is distorted when the enjoyment and possession no longer flourish as part of the Unity but are sought for themselves. Its emergence in the context of ignorance and limitations imposed by nature was oriented in a direction in which all life is apprehended as separated. Enjoyment and possession of the Real are replaced by suffering and absence, and tension to address them is installed.
This energy then manifests in the animal as vital lust, as a need or an instinct that wants to own and be satisfied, in order to ensure its preservation and continuation of the species (hunger, thirst, reproduction, etc.), the greed which is at the origin of human desire.
It is the source of fear and aggression, primary impulses and pleasures/pains.
Killing the Gorgon means releasing the sensory mind from limitations and natural obscurities, anger, fear, the duality of attraction and repulsion, and automatic responses to pleasure and pain. All things that were required to operate a first instinctive selection. It means reaching a threshold where the pure Will of Reality within us can be manifested, with an energy released from any limitations, so the forces of the Absolute can work directly within the being, especially in the body to bring about its transformation.
We now understand that the myth of Perseus is presented as a “cap” on the Labours of Heracles, as a prerequisite and also their logical conclusion.
With the death of Medusa the powers of Life can fully manifest, a life force liberated from its subjection to nature which is a total “detachment” (Pegasus) and an ability for accurate, exact and inflexible action (Chrysaor “the man with a golden sword “) or the actuation of the Will (not troubled by desire, as the task against the Hydra is accomplished).
According to Hesiod, Pegasus and Chrysaor are sons of Poseidon: so, they were generated by the subconscious and continued their growth within Medusa, which confirms the need for what the Gorgons represent for the growth of ego.
The name Gorgo is formed according to the word structure X + RX, here Γ+ΡΓ, i.e. an impulse that returns to the sender, a unified movement that is reversed, recovers to its own profit, acting in its own right and not that of Divine Unity.
On the shield of Athena, Medusa’s head is surrounded by Phobos, Alke, Eris, and Ioke (Fear, Power, Discord and Commotion), and on that of Agamemnon, Deimos and Phobos (Terror and Fear). According to Homer, a glimpse of Gorgo inspires fear, and in the kingdom of Hades, it is one of the most terrifying shadows. Hector sometimes has the look of Gorgo, and Ulysses, upon entering the Kingdom of Shadows, feared that Persephone would send him the head of the monster from Hades’ (i.e., he was beset by the most archaic vital fears that are barely mentalised) (Odyssey XI.633, Iliad V 741 and VIII 349 and XI 36).
The attributes of the Gorgons are often taken from the description of Hesiod. The name of the only mortal Gorgon, Medusa, meaning “that which contains in the right measure, which takes care (of growth)”: in the animal and in the animal within man, the stimulus of evolution is suffering, and fear is protection.
The other two Gorgons, Euryale “evolution towards immense freedom” and Stheno “evolutionary power”, express the absolute needs for freedom and growth at the root of life.
According to Apollodorus, the Gorgons have certain features that indicate their effectiveness in each of the corresponding levels:
Head bristling with snakes (with scaly rings): a strong evolutionary force marked by the beginning of mentalisation.
Long boar tusks: a fair ability to defend or attack, and the capacity to show aggression in the lower layers of the vital.
Bronze hands: a powerful action from which we cannot defend ourselves.
Golden wings that allow them to fly: an ability to act over the nascent mind.
Also, note that the Gorgons, for Hesiod, are related to the underwater reefs, i.e., the “nodes” within the vital.
To achieve the feat of killing the Gorgon, Perseus is assisted by two forces of a higher order, Athena “who monitors the progress of the inner being” and Hermes “the light of knowledge through identity”.
These two deities advise him to go to the Graeae, “old women” (or “impulses for an exact development of consciousness”), the oldest “achievements” of the mind in life, who must indicate him the way to the lair of the Gorgons.
Graeae have only one eye and one tooth between them which they exchange: the seeker must look down deep within him, “seize” the archaic memories (the tooth) and the glimmers of consciousness or “true knowledge” (the single eye) to understand how the Gorgon is manifested within his life, enabling him to acquire the necessary tools for victory.
According to Hesiod, there are just two of them: Pemphredo “the wasp that builds its nest in the ground”, i.e. “twisted mind hidden in the body” and Enyo “evolution”. They are dressed, one in saffron, the other in a beautiful dress. They therefore represent evolutionary processes, essential for the first, and harmonious for the second, both based like Medusa on embryos of memory and consciousness.
Succeeding with the Graeae, the seeker has not gone beyond the awareness of deviations due to the distorted life energy, but this awareness is not enough for purification. He has yet to remove the distortions with the right tools: the helmet of invisibility, the winged sandals, the sickle and the “kibisis”.
The sickle was presented to him by Hermes, the summit of Knowledge, and the other three objects were given to him by the Nymphs. The latter, who are mostly the daughters of Zeus, are symbols of the transition forces between the vital stage evolving in the world of unity and the duality of the mind. Hence, they are not mortal, like the beings that evolve in duality, nor immortal as those belonging to the world of unity, although they have an extremely long life. However, they represent states close to unity and hence, the elders created their spirits as most wild. In order to defeat the Gorgon, the seeker must find the lost unity within the vital and has no other choice but to use the tools recommended by the Nymphs.
The invisibility helmet helps to see without being seen, i.e. it helps in avoiding “identification”. Direct confrontation is avoided and the death of the Gorgon occurs as a surprise, simple consequence of the preparation work carried out with the Graeae and the nymphs.
The invisibility helmet does not emit any vibration, i.e. it establishes stillness, if not mental silence, emotional peace and physical immobility. When perfect stillness is achieved, then nothing can touch the seeker.
The invisibility prevents him from being “caught” by the element considered. He must not focus his attention on it for if he does, it would only nurture it. Rather, he must “step back” to “disidentify” himself. (It is the image reflected by the mirror or the reflection of the Gorgon on his shield.) He must develop the “witness” consciousness.
Perseus was then provided by the Nymphs with a pair of winged sandals that enabled him to get to the lair of the Gorgons, at the end of the earth.
These winged sandals were also an attribute of Hermes, the most advanced level of the mind (the air is an attribute of the mental plane). They symbolise both an ability to rise “above”, to go higher in relation to situations, but especially to go to the limits of consciousness (the “ends of the earth”) by rapid movement thereof until the source of deformation.
Then Perseus, with the help of Athena who guided his arm, used a sickle, the “Harpe” given to him by Hermes, to cut the neck of Medusa. The word “Harpe” is formed with the structuring letters ΡΠ. We have already seen this group of consonants with the Harpies, the symbol of “reversal of balance”. The decisive tool that enables victory (severing the neck of Medusa) would be the “reversal” of the balance of the most primitive animal consciousness.
The seeker goes through several steps before touching the roots of pleasure and pain. He must fight against the repulsions, revulsions and shortcomings. This does not refer to bodily pain, because the myth of the Gorgon, related to the root of the development of the animal me, is not about the body and the processes associated with the physical life, such as hunger, sleep etc., plunging down to the cellular mental roots. The Gorgon, in fact, belongs to the third and fourth stages of development of life and the character of Gorgophone “the one who killed the Gorgon”, son of Perseus and Andromeda, intervenes in the descent of the Pleiades Taygete in the intuitive mental level which precedes the overmind. (We have seen that Danae also had Taygete among her ancestors.)
Finally, the hero had to be equipped with the mysterious “kibisis”. Perhaps the meaning of the word “kibisis” relies on the groups of letters Ι+Ι+Ι, “opening of consciousness, incarnation, and use of the mind”. This word is not used anywhere else in the Greek texts. It was interpreted as defining a “bag” because the exegetes thought that Perseus should have some sort of bag to carry the head of the Gorgon.
Note that Perseus had not premeditated the fight against the Gorgon, but had to resort to it after a simple act of bragging: when the time is right, life presents obstacles necessary for progress, and pushes the seeker to face those he thought to be insuperable. When he is obliged to face them, the inner forces (Athena) and those of the highest level of the mind (Hermes) support him.
The forces that sprang out of the severed neck of Medusa, the winged horse Pegasus and Chrysaor, generated from the subconscious (Poseidon), grow throughout the quest but do not become active until the death of their mother. Note that Pegasus, whose name signifies “living waters” and/or “powerful”, is the symbol of the life force released from subjection to nature, and Chrysaor “the man with the golden sword” the one who is capable of exact and inflexible action.
With the death of Medusa, these forces operate directly within “unity” of life because Pegasus took flight to reach Olympus, while Chrysaor, from his union with Callirhoe “that which flows well”, had a child named Geryon, the symbol of the “powers” of life that the seeker must also leave aside (see the tenth labour of Heracles).
In the later myths, Bellerophon rode Pegasus during his fight against the Chimera, the authors thus indicating that the final victory over the illusion cannot be acquired as long as life energy is not completely purified and liberated, mainly from fear and doubt.
On the way back, Perseus met Andromeda. She was tied at sea on a rock, offered in expiation to a sea monster, as her mother Cassiopeia had boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids. Poseidon was angered by this and generated a flood and sent a sea monster against the country.
The oracle had announced that the calamity would not cease unless Andromeda was offered to the monster.
Perseus fell in love with the young girl and promised to release her if her father Cepheus agreed to give her to him in marriage. The deal was struck. Perseus pushed away the monster or, according to other versions, killed him with his sword or his sickle. However, according to some, before marrying Andromeda, he had yet to face Phineas who was the brother of Cepheus, to which the girl was promised.
Andromeda, the one who has “concern for what is human” represents a “willingness to serve” arising from the intellect because she is the daughter of Cepheus. This desire is sincere because Andromeda is beautiful.
Her mother Cassiopeia represents the seeker who “opened his consciousness to the vision of the human journey”. This opening causes the latter to claim to work more effectively on himself than can do the oldest and spontaneous forces of life, i.e. the least disturbed by the intervention of the mind (Cassiopeia claims that she or her daughter is more beautiful than the Nereids). The seeker then interferes on the path of others or on his path (through projections and introjections). But his “work” is automatically disrupted in return by the uncontrolled vital forces of his subconscious nature. With “the flood”, it is the vital subconscious that disrupts his entire nature and all his actions, and with “the sea monster”, it is the complete domination of the elements of the unpurified vital subconscious that can result in the termination of this “willingness to serve”.
When the seeker has completed “purification” and “liberation” of the life energy (when Perseus killed the Gorgon), he can finally “work on the human” without the intervention of his mental and vital egos. He has become a pure channel because “the one who cares for what is human”, Andromeda, is released.
However, before the seeker (Perseus) can fully surrender himself “to the service of humanity” (marry Andromeda), and although he managed to liberate the vital, having annihilated any fears within him, he is yet to accept the fact that his intuitive receptive part, the counterpart of the logical mind (Phineas “the evolution of that which comes down from above”, brother of Cepheus) must also abandon its pretensions so govern the way to serve as to benefit from that which is free of fear. True service is the total gift of self that cannot be done if there is any fear or doubt within the being. It should depend only on the psychic (the soul), on the Truth inside. The seeker must stop depending on the mental intuition (Cassiopeia was promised to Phineas).
Perseus then returned to Seriphos, where he displayed the head of Medusa which petrified Polydectes, the tyrant and all his people. He entrusted the throne to his benefactor, Dictys, the king’s brother. He returned the head of the Gorgon to Athena who placed it on her aegis and went to Argos with Danae, Andromeda and the Cyclops. They helped him in fortifying Mycenae.
The king Polydectes represents the one “who receives many” (from above). This help triggered the necessary work of purification and liberation. But once the unity in the vital is achieved, it is no longer necessary and seekers must continue work in their everyday incarnation with humility.
The head of the Gorgon is a major “trophy” of the path. Placed on the aegis of Athena, it indicates that the seeker has reached a very important milestone: he has become, to the eyes of all, what the tradition refers to as a “liberated”.
But this is not the end of the road, as the seeker who has become “a seer” (Perseus is accompanied by Cyclops) returns to Argos to continue the work of union (with Danae), work which now takes place within the body and for humanity (he is accompanied by Andromeda). The “personal” yoga work stops here, even though many other myths describe the path up to this point, framed by the exploits of the most famous descendant of Perseus, Heracles.
Upon his return to Argos, Perseus did not find his grandfather who had fled to the north, to Larissa. Indeed, the latter feared the fulfillment of the oracle that had announced that his grandson would kill him.
Perseus joined him in Larissa and convinced him to return to Argos with him. However, before leaving, Perseus took part in an athletic contest and threw a disc on the foot of his grandfather thus killing him. Filled with pain and unwilling to reign in place of the one he had just killed, he exchanged the throne of Argos with that of Tiryns where reigned Megapenthes, his cousin, son of Proetus, who had two children, Anaxagoras and Iphianira.
Perseus founded a new town, Mycenae, near Tiryns.
He had six children from Andromeda.
The accidental death of the grandfather of Perseus, Acrisius, he who is “confused”, represents the completion of the discernment work: it marked the end of fear and doubt.
Perseus then proposed an exchange of thrones with Megapenthes, his cousin, a symbol of a “great suffering” or compassion that pervades the being when it has reached this state of liberation, and arising from his intense perception of the lack of unity of humanity with the Divine.
The death of the Gorgon representing a very advanced step in the path, we must consider the transformations described by the labours of Heracles in the lineage of Perseus as processes interlaced, not only among themselves but also with the processes illustrated by the struggle against the Chimera and the Gorgon.
Perhaps the elders were resolved to provide a solution to this problem by moving Perseus from Argos to found a new lineage in Mycenae.
Nevertheless, the myth seems to bring us back to the theoretical conditions for the beginning of the quest through the names of the two children of Megapenthes, Anaxagoras “domination by the many aspects of personality” and Iphianira “powerful attachment”.
By founding Mycenae, Perseus laid the foundations of a city in connection with the “roar” of the bull, and therefore with “the structure of the realisation power of the luminous mind”. The Cyclops, the symbols of “total vision”, construct the fortifications, thus establishing strong protection by an immense awareness that will characterize, a few generations later, the master of this city, the Atreid Agamemnon.
The throne of Argos (the direction of the quest) remained for generations under the progeny of Megapenthes (in the purification process) in which appear, in the fourth generation, the two famous fighters in the war of the Seven against Thebes, i.e. the two inner qualities highly mobilised in this purification.
It was then passed to the lineage of ascent, that of Bias “the force” before Argolis was reunited finally by the grandson of Agamemnon, Tisamenus “he who is without mind” (in complete mental silence), the king of Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos and Sparta: thus were unified for a future way of the path “the structure of the realisation power of the luminous mind”, “the evolution of a just movement towards the spirit”, “ the process of purification of nature” and “the irruption of the new”.
The descendants of Perseus up to Heracles
From Andromeda, “the one who cares for humanity” or “one who serves”, Perseus had many children of which four – three sons and one daughter, Gorgophone – are of great importance. The latter, whose name signifies “the murder of the Gorgon”, attests to the objective pursued: victory over the deviations of the life energy. She does not have any legend of her own and is mentioned only to indicate, by her successive alliances with characters of the branch of Iapetus (Perieres and Oibalos), the moments which correspond to this realisation in the process of ascension of the planes of consciousness.
We shall only say a few words about her at this stage of our study.
With Perieres, the sixth child of Aeolus, she begot Aphareus “he who is without a mask” (who is egoless) and Leukippos “purified life energy” (he who is without desire): Perieres represents, in the rise of the planes of consciousness, the stage which is without desire and ego, with perfect equanimity leading towards spiritual perfection. This is the stage of wisdom and holiness.
With Oibalos, the king of Sparta, from the lineage of Taygetos (the intuitive mind which precedes the overmind), she begot Tyndarus. He was the human father of the divine twins, the Dioscures Castor and Pollux ( “strength” and “total sweetness”), and of Helen and Clytemnestra ( “the evolution of liberation” and “famous wisdom “ or “enlightened mind” ) (Ref. Board 13).
The three notorious son of Perseus play a key role in the ancestry of Heracles. They determine both the foundation – for a process already well underway – and the object of the quest or its fulfillment:
Alkaios (or Alcee) “he who implements the power of consciousness”. He is the father of Amphitryon and thus, the grandfather of Heracles.
Electryon, the one who is like “amber” (precious metal composed of 4/5 th gold and 1/5 th silver), is the symbol of an advanced stage of purification. The letters Υ and Ω add the idea of receptivity towards matter. He is the father of Alcmene and hence the second grandfather of Heracles.
Sthenelus “he who works towards a vast liberation” is the father of Eurystheus. The latter is the one who mobilises transformations, requiring Heracles to carry out the Labours.
A vast, purified and liberated consciousness is the realisation towards which the exploits of Heracles lead.
(The other sons of Perseus include: Perses, Eleios and Mestor about whom we study later.)
Sources differ regarding the names of the wives of the three heroes, but almost all agree that they were the daughters of Pelops “the one with partial vision (gray)”. The latter is the son of Tantalus “endurance, aspiration” that we talked about as one of the “damned” of the kingdom of Hades: he is the symbol of what, having accomplished its purpose in the mind, leaves it to settle first in the vital and then in the body to continue the work.
Pelops united with Hippodameia “who has mastered vital energy”, and therefore, his daughters also represent realisations towards which the seeker evolves in terms of control over the vital being.
The most frequently mentioned name is Lysidice “a free way to act”, the wife of Electryon. She bore him Alcmene “ astrong soul” or “the spiritual force”, who was the mother of Heracles and Iphicles. She symbolises the act free from ego and desire.
Astydamie “who is the master of her abode (who governs the nature)” was the wife of Alkaios and the mother of Amphitryon, who was the father of Iphicles and the human father of Heracles.
Nicippe “a victorious (controlled) life energy” united with Sthenelus “vast liberation” to whom she bore Eurystheus “great inner energy”.
Initially, the division of kingdoms between the three brothers was as follows:
Electryon “fulfillment of strong purification” (in the lower planes), the most powerful of the sons of Perseus, succeeded him on the throne of Mycenae: the purification process (Electryon) now govern the place where the ardor of aspiration is manifested through “the structure of the power of the luminous mind” (Mycenae).
Sthenelus became the king of Argos: the seeker is always guided by the principle of a “great liberation”. Hence, he united with Nikippe “the vital liberation”.
Alkaios “a wider awareness” ascended the throne of Tiryns, ensuring “the evolution of a just movement towards the Spirit”. He united with Astydamie “the one who tames the city” or “the controller of personality”.
The evolution of these kingdoms of Argolis through the intertwined adventures of the children and grandchildren of Perseus is relatively complex. It describes the environment for the birth of Heracles and also denounces an impasse. In fact, the history of Pterelaos is a warning about the dangers of “mental vision” (with a sense of exaltation confirmed by his parentage) that proves to be an impasse even if it allows genuine access to the non-dual Absolute, access which also remains extremely limited. The seeker then loses both this connection and momentarily the opportunity to continue the purification of his nature. He cannot resume his path without agreeing to abandon this spiritual connection to follow a righteous way. But first he must eliminate the cause for it.
The myth of the Teumessian fox specifies that the seeker cannot find his luminous nature without removing beforehand the cause of damage arising from a “shrewd” vital energy that the consciousness cannot “grasp”. This energy creates internal conflicts that seem insoluble to the seeker, using up his vital forces, but that disappear in due course as a result of a higher spiritual response.
This myth represents most likely the approaches to spirituality through magical-occult sciences that can provide a small contact with the non-dual Absolute but which the seeker has to renounce if he wants to enter a real path of purification-liberation.
We shall discuss hereinafter these two complex stories in detail.
The fourth son of Perseus, Mestor “the one who advises, inspires” unites with Lysidice “acting on free will” who gave him a daughter Hippothoe “an energy that gushes forth” or “brilliant vital”. She attracted the attention of Poseidon, the controller of the “subconscious”.
Mestor represents “the experience” of progressing towards freedom and creates a strong vital energy to stay on the path. Son of Perseus, he represents a seeker who has done a great amount of work to free himself from fear without realizing the corresponding purification of the ego.
The god lured the girl to the islands of Echinades, the place where “evolution stops” located at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. There she bore him a son, Taphios “the one who buries (the consciousness)” who became the king of the islands and governed the people who bore his name later, the Taphians. These are also called Teleboeens: “Those whose cry can be heard from afar”, i.e., “those who seek fame”. Corinth was founded by Sisyphus, symbol of the logical mind, where the people lived in mental formations (small islands) that preceded the intellect (at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth).
The consciousness being “buried”, the seeker is “caught” by Poseidon, the god of the subconscious who leaves nothing behind while favouring very limited unity. In fact, Taphios was a son of Pterelaos “mental vision (exalted)” to whom Poseidon gave a golden hair that made him immortal i.e., he preserved an intuitive contact though very feeble with the non-duality plane (without the seeker knowing the reason as this contact was initiated by Poseidon).
Pterelaos had six sons and a daughter. His sons went to Argos because they wanted to reclaim the throne occupied by Electryon. (This story defies the chronology as there is a gap four generations away. However, this is not the only example of aberrations that do not invalidate the symbolic content.)
As the latter was opposed to it, they stole his herds because they were a nation of pirates. The sons of Electryon fought the battle against the sons of Pterelaos and all perished except one on each side. Electryon prepared a punitive expedition against the Taphians, calling to the rescue his nephew Amphitryon “all that involves hard work” or “work that slowly wear” son of Alkaios “powerful consciousness” and Astydamie “the one who is master of her abode”. But Amphitryon killed him inadvertently.
In this passage, Pterelaos “mental vision (exalted)” wants to assume the results of the work of purification (Electryon). This follows an internal conflict in which the seeker tries to defend this vision through a laborious control (Amphitryon), which automatically entails the termination of the purification work (death of Electryon).
Sthenelus “a vast liberation”, who was already the king of Argos, took the opportunity to seize the throne of Mycenae and Tiryns (he was the third king) and exiled his nephew Amphitryon who then moved to Thebes. Later, Sthenelus transferred his kingdom to his son Eurystheus “great inner strength” the fourth king of Mycenae.
However, through this work, the process of “liberation” has spread to new parts of the being, symbolised here by the cities-regions of Tiryns “right movement towards the Spirit” and Mycenae “the evolution of ardour”.
This “control” (Amphitryon) is then redirected to the “incarnation of the inner being” (Thebes).
In Thebes, Amphitryon “hard work” was purified from the unintentional murder of Electryon by the King Creon “the incarnation”: the termination of the purification process was therefore inevitable in the impasse created by Pterelaos.
Amphitryon had brought with him Alcmene, the daughter of Electryon. However, she did not want to unite with him until he had avenged her brothers killed by the Taphians. So he took after Electryon to organise the punitive expedition in which he had to be successful.
To this end, he asked the assistance of Creon. The latter agreed on the condition that the ravages of the Teumessian fox on Thebes must be stopped, as it preyed upon the residents who had to sacrifice one of their sons every month. The edict of fate was that no one could ever catch that fox. Amphitryon asked the help of Cephalus, the son of Deion, who received from Procris the dog who never missed a hunt, dog whom she inherited from Minos. To solve this impossibility (the fox that cannot be caught and the dog that never missed a hunt), Zeus petrified the two animals.
Amphitryon then went to war with the help of Creon, Cephalus, Panopeus and Heleios.
For a “laborious task” (Amphitryon), the seeker wants to resume the work of purification in order to achieve a “strong soul” (Alcmene, daughter of Electryon).
But this cannot be done before putting an end to the interferences caused by “shrewd and misleading energy” (the fox), a “shadow” that cannot be caught through greatest attention (the dog) and that disrupts the work of purification (Thebes).
The seeker loses his forces in the battle although he uses the highest intuitive abilities and greatest possible attention developed to the highest mental consciousness oriented towards the union (this refers to the dog of Cephalus “the head”, son of Deion “unity in consciousness”, who is the ancestor of Ulysses and represents the highest possible level of achievement in the mind for ordinary seekers). But the “tricks” of the internal enemy (the fox) cannot be thwarted by mental consciousness. So, it was Zeus, an influence of the overmind, who enabled to render inoperative both the obstacles and the will to eliminate them.
Pterelaos cannot be fought as long as “deception” continues within the being who is engaged in a process of vital purification.
In order to avenge the sons of Electryon, the following went with Amphitryon: Creon “the incarnation process”, Cephalus “the highest state of mind of the quest”, Panopeus “an extended vision” and Heleios “liberated consciousness”.
But Pterelaos could not be defeated as long as the golden lock of hair that Poseidon had put on his temple was in place. It was then his own daughter Komaitho who snatched it from him because she fell in love with Amphitryon who was fighting her father. Thus, Pterelaos died. Amphitryon then subjugated all the islands of Taphians, but he was not grateful to Komaitho and, after the victory, he killed the young girl who had betrayed her father.
Pterelaos “(exalted) mental vision” could not be vanquished as long as he maintained his contact with the Absolute. His daughter Komaitho “the one with red hair”, the symbol of a vast intuition arising from spiritualisation of the mind was the one who broke the contact.
(Komaitho seems to have the same symbolism as that of Pyrrha, the wife of Deucalion. This story appears to have been directly inspired by that of the much more famous Scylla, daughter of Nisus, that we shall discuss in the chapter devoted to the Minotaur.)
The night before the return of Amphitryon from this expedition against Pterelaos, Zeus got ahead of him and united with Alcmene, which made him the father of Heracles, while Amphitryon, who returned in the morning, became the father of his twin, Iphicles.
Later, Eurystheus feared that Heracles may claim the throne that was rightfully his (inherited from his grandfather Electryon, the eldest son of Perseus) and tried to prevent this by sending him to perform the twelve labours.
The kingdom of Mycenae, during the events described above, became for the mythical epics a place of greater importance than Argos, which was fragmented between Megapenthes, Bias and Melampus, passed from hand to hand until Adrastos, then Diomedes.
The building of the “the structure of the power of the luminous mind” thus gradually takes precedence over other yoga dynamics.
Finally, the kingdom of Mycenae and Tiryns, according to the Oracle, were transferred to the lineage of Atreides: Atreus, then Agamemnon, Orestes and finally Tisamenus. The latter reunited Argolis which had grown with Sparta, which was inherited from Menelaus before it was subjected to the dominion of the descendants of Heracles, the Heraclides.
The conception and birth of Heracles
The story of Heracles is rooted in Thebes, the place of “the incarnation of the inner life” in the process of purification/liberation; the labours were all triggered from Mycenae, the place of “passion for aspiration” and “structure linked to the realisation power of the luminous mind”, where his uncle Eurystheus “the great inner strength” resides. Agamemnon, the greediest of all Greeks, “the greatest aspiration”, was also the king of Mycenae.
But before the labours began, the postulant must engage in a series of preparatory events.
Zeus took advantage of Amphitryon’s expedition against Pterelaos to overtake him to the bed of Alcmene. (Some even claim that Zeus persuaded Helios “the sun” not to rise for three days in order to extend their union. This would suggest a sort of joy of the Divine to prolong its action in the seeker outside the light of the supramental Truth, Helios being the son of Hyperion). From this union was born Alcides or Alcaeus who was later called Heracles. Amphitryon, on returning victorious in the morning, gave the same night a second son to Alcmene, who was named Iphicles.
While the birth of the child approached, Zeus boasted before the other gods of a son from his blood who would be born that day and reign over all his neighbours.
Hera, who was jealous, immediately conspired to deprive the child of Alcmene of this legacy. She took an oath from Zeus that the next child born the same day in the lineage of Perseus (and therefore also from the bloodline of Zeus) shall have the announced destiny. Then she made sure to delay the birth of Heracles while she advanced by two months that of his cousin Eurystheus who was a son of Sthenelus, the king of Mycenae and therefore belonged to the lineage of Perseus.
So, Eurystheus was born two months premature and Alcmene gave birth to the twins Heracles and Iphicles. Thus, Eurystheus later became the king of Mycenae instead of Heracles, who was subordinate to him until the end of the twelve labours.
These stories of the hero’s birth draw our attention to some important points.
First, it is not Heracles “the glory of the just (according to the Absolute)” which appears as the first stimulus of commitment in the quest (as “just movement” can only be an outcome), but the “inner strength” Eurystheus, resulting from work aiming at a “vast liberation”, Sthenelus. (It must be noted that this refers to the liberation from desire, ego, attractions and repulsions, and of all the “attachments”). It is this inner strength that not only initiates the twelve labours but also ensures their execution.
This means in particular that the seeker must follow the movement driven by his energy, even if he does not see what is right: in fact, one of the worst obstacles in the path is tepidity or non-commitment.
This “inner strength” also governs “all its neighbours” as Mycenae dominated Argolis during this phase. That is to say, it is able to gather for the same purpose and under its leadership the other abilities and faculties of the seeker.
We also note that this energy is already present, although it is still incomplete, even before the emergence of the desire for quest (Heracles). It occurs most often in the opposite form that is a feeling of incompleteness.
Although Eurystheus is a symbol of inner strength, he is often presented as a coward in the mythological stories when Heracles brought him his trophies. In fact, the forces “awakened” throughout the quest are considerable and often initially underestimated. Their ignorance can be a blessing, because very few would agree to tread on the path if they knew of the problems earlier.
It must also be remembered that it is not required to have conquered fear (the Gorgon) or any other obstacle to set out on the path. The “Labours” are indeed the processes that develop in a spiral until the final victory.
For each labour, the visible difficulties are a sign of the ability to gain a similar victory and they are the ones that motivate the fight.
Heracles will be finally freed from the tutelage of Eurystheus at the end of the twelve labours, having attained complete liberation.
The name of Heracles was understood by the elders as “the glory of Hera”, although this goddess pursued the hero out of hatred and the labours appear to be more influenced by Zeus than by his wife. It would then be the spiritual glory of one who reaches the “just movement according to the Consciousness or the Absolute” (in agreement with the symbolism of Rho), or the perfection forced by Hera of all the elements of his being, without anything being left behind.
The name could also be built from the aorist ηρα of the verb αιρω and thus signify “the glory that is raised (by the Absolute)”. But the elders may have played with the idea of closing (Kleio κλειω) and the name would then signifies “the one who opposes Hera, the limitation of movement”, the one who transgresses the slow movement of evolution according to nature.
We will retain in this book “the glory of the just movement” or “the glory of human perfection”. This interpretation is consistent with the epithet of Eos, ηριγενεια or Dionysus ηριγονη, “arising from the just movement of consciousness”. The use of the vowel alpha instead of iota in the prefix would then indicate a relation to human nature rather than to the consciousness.
There is a third important character from the beginning of the work, Iphicles, twin stepbrother of Heracles. He is the son of Amphitryon “the hard work”, king of Thebes. He intervenes in the process of incarnation and purification.
Like Heracles, he is the son of Alcmene “a strong soul”, a result of the work of “cleansing” (Alcmene is the daughter of Electryon) whose progressive realisation is the object of the work.
Iphicles united with Automedusa, a descendant of Tantalus and Pelops, and gave her a son Iolaos who was the charioteer of Heracles and gave him support on some occasions.
If Heracles is driven to work accurately and supported by the plane of the mind (Zeus), Iphicles “the great glory” represents the results of the hard work in the incarnation that manages to gradually achieve total control over the self, Automedusa “who rules oneself”. This produces an ability to direct forces to the quest, Iolaus “the voice or vision of consciousness”: every victory over fear, even over the most archaic of the vital forces, helps to keep the seeker’s energies in hand and direct them.
(Automedusa is in fact a descendant of Tantalus, the hero who frequented the gods, symbol of a beautiful “aspiration” that achieves the union within the mind but then experiences a very painful incompleteness in the work of the body. His son Pelops joins Hippodameia “who tames life” and gave him Alcathoos “(the one that is changing) with great speed”, the father of Automedusa.)
Iphicles is portrayed in the episode where snakes were introduced in the cradle as a cowardly character, since the beginning of the work the seeker has not yet started his work of mastery.
Labours will therefore proceed in parallel with the acquisition of mastery.
Hermes placed the newborn Heracles on the breast of Hera which he suckled. Otherwise, under a decree of fate, “no son of Zeus could access the divine honors”.
If this does not feature in the mythological canon, this anecdote is however reported by many authors. This signifies that the seeker can consciously enter the search after an experience of “exact movement of the Absolute”. It also indicates that he enters the divine “framework”.
It would refer to an experience, rapid and fleeting as it may be, an “It exists”, a first “contact” with the Real, a timeless plenitude.
When the children were eight or ten months old, Hera (or according to others, Amphitryon, who wanted to know which of the two children was his son) introduced two huge snakes in their cradles. Heracles seized one in each hand and choked them. Teiresias, summoned to comment on this extraordinary event, foretold the great destiny of the child.
Some say it was on this occasion that the hero was given the name of Heracles, who was first named Alcides.
Through his ascendants, Heracles is an Argive, a seeker of Truth. That is why he and his descendants will always return to Argos “brilliant, fast”. If he was born in Thebes, in Boeotia, it is to indicate the necessity for the incarnation of the inner life in the purification/liberation process. Some add that he was born near Electra, the symbol of the Chakra of the heart, the place of contact with the psychic being.
The first episode takes place while the two children were eight or ten months, that is to say just after the conscious entry into the quest. It depicts a first test, the first opposition of Hera who ensures a just development. It suggests that the hero is destined to become the master of the evolutionary process (or of ascending and descending currents in the body because there are two snakes), which is confirmed by the soothsayer dedicated to purification.
As the quest is a revolt against the slow pace of life, Hera’s hatred towards the hero is justified as the goddess ensures the just movement of evolution that concerns the entire humanity without leaving anything behind, and therefore necessarily slow.
In the version where it is Amphitryon who seeks to know which child is his son, the seeker wants to learn to distinguish between what comes from the personal will and what is imposed by the inner being and is of the order of the true Will. In fact, for a long time the will of the ego oriented towards mastery (Iphicles) cannot be distinguished from that of the inner being (Heracles).
Heracles and Iphicles therefore represent the two poles of the seeker working together for the same realisation: mastery on all levels and right movement in thought, feeling and action.
The seeker then foresees that his quest for freedom will never stop (Tiresias foretold his great destiny).
Youth of Heracles and murder of Linos
The two children spent the first years of their lives together. They were marked by the involuntary murder of Linos, the music master of Heracles, who hit the hero because he was a mediocre student. This would have caused the anger of Heracles and the accidental death of Linos.
The name Linos evokes a “natural evolution of the movement of individuation and liberation”. He is, according to sources, the son of a Muse or Apollo.
Music is defined by several components (rhythm, melody, harmony, to which timbre can be added) which symbolically define the “exactitude” of an action, its exact course in time and space, in agreement with the totality. In the myths, the most accomplished music is the result of the work of purification, when “everything is in its place”.
But in the beginning of the path, the learning of the right attitude is subject to confrontations to the outside world. Giving in to impatience and refusing to accept his failures and his “mediocrity”, the seeker then refuse to consider this learning process.
In the later tradition, Heracles received extensive training from many tutors, because some spiritual masters felt that even before the start of the real work of yoga, the applicant must have done a serious amount of preparation. However, we note some inconsistencies here because some heroes like Autolycus or Castor have not even appeared at this stage of the path.
Eurytos, the king of Oechalia, a grandson of Apollo, taught the hero archery. He was killed by Heracles at the end of the twelve labours because he had refused to give him the hand of his daughter Iole. She was however the reward promised to the winner of an archery contest where competitors were opposed to the king and his sons, and where Heracles had won.
The practice of archery develops concentration, relaxation and the ability to identify the aim pursued, perseverance, determination and a certain amount of self-control.
Eurytos, expression of a “great tension towards the spiritual plane (knowledge, mastery and power)” is the grandson of Apollo and therefore a manifestation of the psychic being.
He refused the hand of his daughter Iole “liberation” to the hero because it can only be obtained after complete detachment (represented by Deianira “the one who kills the attachment”). His bow will go to his son Iphitus before being in the hands of Odysseus who uses it for the massacre of the suitors of Penelope.
Autolycus, son of Hermes and Philonis, was Heracles’ fighting master.
This is the learning of a “warrior” who has to find his own self-improvement methods (yoga) because Autolycus is “the one who has his own light”. This was a training to learn to listen to his inner voice and inner movements. Several qualities can be associated with the warrior, such as: courage, endurance, refusal of self-pity and self-contemplation, indifference to victory or defeat, etc. The teacher is here an expression of the highest mental being, the overmind (he is the son of Hermes) turned towards the “love of evolution” (his mother is Philonis).
Amphitryon taught Heracles to drive a chariot.
We must remember that Amphitryon is the “hard work” of the seeker that cannot fail. Each victory allows the energies to become increasingly stronger and steady (Amphitryon is the grandfather of Iolaos, the driver of Heracles.)
The chariot is the symbol of what supports the quest, the development of the personality and necessary qualities and skills.
Castor, finally, taught the hero the art of war.
Castor represents “the power that provides mastery”. Descendant of the Pleiad Taygete, the intuitive mind, he intervenes only in an advanced stage of the quest. But here, even before the work begins, the seeker can only learn the basics of the art of mastery, of the “fights of the warrior”. The fight against the lion of Cithaeron will be the first opportunity of victory.
The Lion of Cithaeron
When Heracles had reached the threshold of adulthood, he performed his first feat by killing the lion of Mount Cithaeron on the southern border of Boeotia. This lion was devouring the herds of Amphitryon and Thespios. The chase lasted fifty days during which the hero lived in the court of Thespios. The latter, who had fifty daughters, was very impressed by Heracles. Wanting each of his daughters to bear a child of the hero, he sent a different one every night in his bed. This was without the knowledge of Heracles, who, so it is said, still thought he was sleeping with the same one.
The hunt for the lion of Cithaeron (Kithairon) is still a part of the preliminary path and must therefore be distinguished from the first real labour, that of the fight against the Nemean Lion. Note that however this episode was perhaps added later and allows us to identify the several steps in the fight against the ego.
The lion covers a wide range of symbolic meanings in ancient mythologies.
It seems to be used here as a symbol of the vital-mental personality, and of the ego with its most obvious distortions: pride, vanity, arrogance and conceit.
The one raging on Mount Cithaeron devours the herds of Amphitryon and Thespios, i.e. it prevents the seeker from enjoying the gains generated by the yoga of these two symbolic characters.
Cithaeron Κιθαιρων is perhaps the symbol of consciousness in the chest (in the heart) “Ι+ κιθαρος”. Cithara (Κιθαρα), Apollo’s instrument that transmits the music of the soul, is a symbol of a higher harmony. Mount Cithaeron then indicates the highest consciousness of the beginners (in Boeotia) seeking contact with the psychic.
Amphitryon “the hard work” is the asceticism in yoga and Thespios “he who speaks as the gods” is the expression of inspiration. The latter is a son of Erechtheus, the sixth of the legendary kings of Athens who marks the end of the attachment to the divinity in its appearance of strength and power, and therefore means the final entry in the quest. Thespios united with Megamede “the one who deals with big things” or “the one who has great plans”.
This lion thus prevents the fruits of the seeker’s efforts to perpetuate and be used as the first apprehensions of “the just, the beautiful, and the true” emanating from the psychic.
The hunt takes place in Boeotia, the province which symbolizes the yoga pathway to be privileged to incarnate inner life.
The less documented history of the daughters of Thespios expresses the impatience of the seeker to implement intuitive perceptions of the way that have not yet found a point of application (they have no offspring yet). The number fifty, which we have already seen before, expresses a whole in the world of forms.
If the Nemean lion refers to the human ego in its roots, this preliminary work primarily involves fighting its crudest expressions, which are mainly mental complacency and arrogance (which also come from excessive self-love, habit to justify oneself, indiscipline, need to be right, projections on the outside or on others, feeling hurt by the words or actions of others, rejecting all that is higher than us, contempt, self-righteousness, self-contemplation, sensitivity, overestimation of the self, pretension in the spiritual domain, etc.).
More subtly, these are all behaviours arising from the claim and justification of the ego to “be himself” in his coarse and unprocessed nature, inherited from millennia of evolution. They have been described in the context of the presentation of the least developed human types in the chapter on the Titans.
Kithairon, South Boeotia, hosted a remarkable festival where were burned little “Daidalon” (wooden idols) every 7 years and a big one every 59 years. This tradition probably symbolises a struggle against “fabrications”, illusions of all sorts. The meaning of the time span of 59 years is unknown to us.
The cancellation of the tribute to Thebes and the madness of Heracles against his children
Upon returning from the Cithaeron lion hunt, Heracles was outraged by the arrogance of the emissaries of Erginos (the king of Orchomenus, neighboring city of Cithaeron located in Boeotia) who came to claim the annual tribute that Creon, king of Thebes was to pay him. This payment of tribute was established by Erginos who had led a campaign against the Thebans in retaliation for the murder of his father Clymenus.
Heracles sent back the heralds to Erginos after having cut off their noses and ears.
The first part of the story deals with the disappearance of the first spiritual acquisitions of the seeker (murder of Clymenos by the Thebans) following the work of incarnation of the inner life (Clymenus is a grandson of Phrixus who flew away to Colchis on the back of the ram with the Golden Fleece). The seeker can no longer rely on the memory of his first experiences.
Therefore, “the work” of the beginners is executed in “agitation (and/ or excitement)” (Erginos king of Orchomenus in Boeotia). The energies intended in principle for a just work of incarnation of inner life are wasted (the imposition of a tribute onto the Thebans).
According to some, Heracles did pay a double tribute to Orchomenus: the seeker recovers more energy to calm his “agitation” and find a better internalisation.
According to others, he cut off the ears and noses of the Philistine heralds and hung them around their necks, which also indicates a requirement for internalisation: at that moment on the path, the “listening” and “feeling” must be directed inwards.
To thank Heracles for his help, Creon, King of Thebes, gave him his daughter Megara in marriage. According to some, he also gave his youngest daughter to Iphicles who was already the father of Iolaos born to him from his first wife, Automedusa.
Heracles and Megara had several children and lived happily for a few years in Thebes until the hero was taken by a killing frenzy sparked, according to some, by Hera. He killed all of his children with his arrows or, according to others, by throwing them into a fire. Some add that he also killed all the children of his half-brother Iphicles or some of them, depending on the versions.
The hero was purified by Thespios, then he consulted the oracle of Delphi who ordered him to put himself at Eurystheus’ service.
The king of Thebes, Creon, is not a usurper and therefore represents a just progressive direction. On the other hand, he had already intervened to assist Amphitryon in the expedition against the Taphians and had purified him for Electryon’s murder. His name means “the strongest, the master” or “the opening of consciousness directed towards incarnation” (the same root ΚΡ as the names of the Titans Crios, Cronos).
Finally, he united with a namesake of Eurydice “a just way to act” who bore him several children: Haemon “the passionate”, Henioche “driver of chariots”, Pyrrha “the redhead” or “inflamed”, Lycomedes “one who cares about the light”, Menoeceus “the spirit inhabiting the body” and Megara “the just movement (Mega + Ρ)” (or “just movement of human progress” or “great introspection”, this last interpretation being reinforced by the meaning of Megaron, “sanctuary, crypt”.)
Creon, therefore, cannot represent an error in the direction of the movement of liberation-purification, as his subsequent history might suggest.
The seeker, who through a reversal of consciousness has just entered a process of internalisation which liberates him partially from the concerns and agitations of the world, now tries to act accordingly to the “just movement” in the incarnation.
But the realisations that arise at this stage are the achievements of the development of personality (power, success, etc.) and may not be retained, although they belong to a just movement: the priority is no longer the assertion of the ego in the world (Heracles kills the children of Megara).
Turning away from external achievements is a just movement. In fact the hero was purified by Thespios “speech or singing emanating from the gods” for the murder of his children, which is at this stage an unavoidable “sacrificial madness”.
It is also possible to understand this as the injunction of the Bhagavad Gita “to act without attachment to the act or its fruits”, the formula that preside over the Yoga of Works.
The names of the children appear to designate achievements or obstacles that were necessary in their time but now are no more necessary on the way. Therimachos “he who fights the wild beasts (the energies of the untamed nature)” may indicate a work undertaken too soon. Deicoon would be “that which kills the opening of consciousness”. Creontiades “powerful spirit” and Ophites “superior evolution” would report barriers due to an excessively intrusive intellect.
A great hero (perhaps the biggest) could not, from the standpoint of exoteric mythological narrative, engage in such murders without being “crazy”. Being a seeker at the peak of his ability, not favouring “results” in worldly affairs without necessarily retiring from them, seems foolish in the eyes of all. In general, except for Euripides (whom we do not consider as an initiate and who most often distorts the primitive myths), the authors place the killing of the children at the beginning of the spiritual journey, before the beginning of the Labours.
Megara however remains the hero’s wife for the duration of the Labours, for “the just movement on all fronts” or the work of “accuracy” is of course the goal of the seeker during this phase of the yoga. When the union with the psychic is established, the question no longer arises. Upon completion of the Labours, the hero gave her to his nephew and driver Iolaos, designating “the just movement” (Megara) as the ideal partner to “the voice of consciousness” or “the vision of consciousness” who controls and directs the energies for the quest (Iolaos is the driver of Heracles).
Megara did not live near Heracles as she remained in Thebes while he travelled the world. Maybe one can see there a recommendation to the seeker to maintain his participation in the activities of the world because that is where he will find the best opportunities to progress.
Leaving Megara to unite with Deianira “the one who kills the attachment”, the hero-seeker pursues, at that moment, a process aiming towards the most total detachment.
The entry in the quest thus requires a major reversal from the outward to the inward.
According to sources, it was following the murder of his children and not when be killed the two snakes, that the hero gave up his first name Alcide (Alkeides, meaning “the descendant of Alkaios”, i.e. “one with powerful temperament, courageous” or “powerfull awareness”) to become Heracles “the glory of the just movement (from within)”, a name that was given to him by Apollo, “the light of the psychic”.
It was Thespios “speaking or singing emanating from the gods” who purified him of the murder of his children: it is his highest perceptions of harmony “of the just, the beautiful, the true” (Thespios) that confirm to the seeker the correctness of his orientation. He is then ready to engage himself onto the way: this is what reveals his inner voice (the Pythia) ordering him to put himself at the service of his uncle Eurystheus “inner strength” for twelve years to achieve a series of works for him. Apollo (or Athena) stated that he would obtain immortality as a reward for his pains: the final victory would be crowned by the release from duality.
Introduction to the Labours
Through the life and Labours of Heracles, we will meet the elements of the process of purification and liberation of the mind and of the vital that lead to their liberation, their flexibility and their enlightenment. To accomplish this for the mind means to become wise and to access mental powers; then, to undertake this for the vital is heroism and provides access to holiness and to the powers of life, thus becoming an equal to the gods. Beyond the states of wisdom and holiness, can then be a reversal of yoga with the descent into the body.
Note that these works are theoretical and not the transcript of experiences. They have given rise to a number of works offering different interpretations. This study in no way claims to deliver a spiritual teaching; we shall try to stay as close as possible to the symbols in the overall coherence that we seek to establish.
Perhaps is it useful to recall that the Labours appear in the lineage of Oceanos and therefore are part of the evolutionary process depending upon nature. The idea is first to achieve a “psychisation” of the being through a progressive purification-liberation. Purifying oneself from the mixtures and sources of impurity and freeing oneself from desire and ego are considered here as the first steps towards a divine life and as the foundation for the realisation of perfect equality.
But the spiritual progress does not stop there because after conquering personal liberation in terms of mind and vital, it is necessary for the physical nature to be transformed into an instrument of the Absolute, not in view of a paradise out of Earth, but here in our embodied nature. That is why the work was extended by a number of “campaigns (praxéis)” to specify the path.
It is not only to obtain liberation from the spirit but also from the modes of nature and from all duality. Indeed, the oracle promised Heracles immortality if he could achieve the Labours, meaning the liberation from duality and mastery over the process we call death.
If there is no other path to the Truth than our own, these Labours cannot be considered in a logical sequence that implies that one is finished before starting the next. So they cannot describe a valid linear progression for all, with specific steps, but only a certain number of goals toward which the seeker must strive.
He must often fight the same battles but in deeper and deeper planes, in a spiral work. Thus, the vanquishing of the obstacles and achievements in the mind must then be extended to the vital and the body. On numerous occasions in the Agenda, Mother mentions the experiences in the body she has already had and overcame in the mind and the vital. That is why each labour can be seen in many different ways throughout the progression.
This explains the differences encountered between the elders, sometimes in the list of labours, but especially in the order of their presentation
A canonical list was however made in the fifth century BC, probably under the sole influence of the initiates. Only the order still varied according to the myths or architectural traces that have survived.
In fact, instead of the word “Labours” inherited from Latin sources (Duodecim Herculis Labores), a more accurate translation of the Greek term “Athloi ” would be “challenges” or “trials”, as the Greek word was related to sport games.
Homer knew about the “labours” but never actually listed them all. According to Theocritus, Peisander of Camiros must have organised the cycle of Labours from the late seventh century BC. The labour of cleaning the Augean stables was the last to have been added in the fifth century, and their number was thus fixed at twelve. We will follow here the list of Apollodorus that appeared to us as the most coherent. It is identical to that of Diodorus of Sicily, but for a few permutations for some adjacent work (permutations in labour pairs 3 and 4, 5 and 6, 11 and 12).
However, it is necessary to distinguish three kinds of labours, the first two being paired.
The canonical list in fact includes actual labours called “Athloi ” but also episodes that run parallel to them named “Parerga” (“Secondary”) as some masters feel the need to clarify some teachings.
The events located after the labours are of the third category and were named “Praxeis”, “acts” or “achievements” while “Athloi” are carried out by the personal will of the seeker (under the orders of Eurystheus), the “Praxeis” belong to a higher will which is the absolute obedience to the inner being. They will be triggered at the sole initiative of the hero. This obedience implies the installation of the psychic to the forefront.
Structure of the Labours
We have already discussed the different parts of the seeker mobilized for the search (Eurystheus, Heracles, Iolaus, and Iphicles).
The major liaisons of the hero mark the milestones of the path: Megara, the pursuit of “exactitude” or “the just movement”, meaning the search for perfection in each and every action; Deianira, that of “detachment”; Iole, that of total “liberation”; and finally Hebe, the goddess of “eternal youth”, that of non-duality and continuous adaptation to the movement of Becoming.
But there is another structure, given by the geographical location of the labours, which defines three groups.
The first list comprises the first six labours that were all carried out in Peloponnese. The first two of this group, located on either side of Argos, define its major objectives, the terms of which are explained by the following four located in Arcadia or in its immediate surroundings.
The second group is formed by four labours taking place outside the Peloponnese according to a cross oriented to the four symbolic directions: Crete at the South, Thrace at the North, the shores of the Black Sea to the East, and Erythia “the glowing island” in the Far West. They refer to the seekers who are much more involved in the yoga.
The last group is formed by the last two labours, who take place in inaccessible regions: Hades and the garden of the Hesperides. They only concern the adventurers of consciousness who, following the avatars or the divine messengers, are dedicated to achieving realizations never reached before on Earth.
This is why most ancient authors had located the ultimate limit of the possible realisation in yoga symbolised by the famous “Pillars of Heracles” at the end of the tenth labour, “Geryon’s herds”. Thus Pindar proclaimed: “Neither the wise, nor the non-wise can move any further than this point” (Pindar, Olympics, III-44)
Although the “praxeis” refer to the stages of yoga that go beyond this limit, the elders presented as the ultimate obstacle the action of the essence of the part of the seeker not yet purified impregnated with the poison of desire (the blood of Centaur Nessos impregnated with Hydra’s venom). It causes the death of Heracles in the form of a tunic laced with venom.
The list of labours established by Apollodorus is as follows. (The division into three groups exists only for the purpose of the study.)
1. The Nemean Lion
2. The Lernaean Hydra
3. The Ceryneian Hind
4. The Erymanthian Boar
5. The Augean Stables
6. The Stymphalian Birds
7. The Cretan Bull
8. The Mares of Diomedes
9. The Belt of Hippolyte, Queen of Amazons
10. The Herds of Geryon
11. The Garden of Hesperides
Note that we do not know if in the early myths there were ten or twelve labours. Their duration is also subject to uncertainety.
Even though in the beginning the hero only had to perform ten labours, maybe even less, there were finally ten as Eurystheus refused to consider two of them, “the Lernaean Hydra” and “the Augean Stables”. Perhaps this comes from differences about the symbolism of these two numbers, ten and twelve – 10: wholeness in expression, perfection; 12: perfect manifestation stabilised. Then it was obvious that the achieved Labours could not be twelve.
The other uncertainty is the duration of the servitude of Heracles: sometimes ten, sometimes twelve years.
We also eliminate the versions of some authors that are inconsistent: one that gives atonement for the murder of the children of Heracles as a justification of the Labours, which is incompatible with the purification which was granted, and that of Euripides who places the murders at the end of the labours, distorting once again the initiatory stories.
THE FIRST SIX LABOURS
The first six works are located in the Peloponnese, the first two in Argos at equal distance to the north and south of Argos, the next three in Arcadia along an arc at its northern border, and the sixth in Elis.
We have repeatedly stressed that Argos “light” is the city of Truth seekers. The two major labours that “frame” the first part of the way, the Nemean Lion and the Lernaean Hydra, aim to end of the ego and the desire, the two major movements that could not be avoided during the construction of the personality but that must be overcome in the next stage of evolution.
Arcadia is the symbolic province of “endurance” in yoga. It derives its name from that of the hero Arcas associated with that of “the bear” image of a “power of resistance or endurance”. It leads to the realisation of “equality” with the famous heroine of the hunt for the wild boar of Calydon, Atalanta.
It liaises with the province of liberation in spirit, Elis, where residues of past experiences have to be cleaned during the sixth labour, the Augean stables.
We shall see later that there are two “Arcadias” that should not be confused. The first concerns the preliminary stage of the way. Its inhabitants loved to say that they were the oldest inhabitants of Greece and had their origin with the pre-Selenians, even before the moon rose in the sky, that is to say, even before the construction of the personality. Their first king was Pelasgos, born from the earth at the dawn of history as the people still called themselves Pelasgians ““those who are led into darkness (into the unconscious)”. The second Arcadia leads to the realisation of “equality”.
The monument site of Olympia gives the place of honor to the episode of the Augean stables, which would suggest that according to the architect of this building, the winners of Olympia were those who had accomplished these first six labours until they had reached liberation in spirit, and not all twelve. This allocation seems a more consistent view of the fact that no one, a priori, could claim to have achieved all the labours.