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The latest exploits of Heracles illustrate the advanced stages of the process of purification-liberation or “unveiling” of the divine involuted in matter. After the installation of the seeker in the overmind, these are the first experiences of the supramental transformation.

Heracles fighting Cyknus - Louvre Museum

Heracles fighting Cyknus – Louvre Museum

To fully understand this web page, it is recommended to follow the progression given in the tab Greek myths interpretation. This progression follows the spiritual journey. In particular, the pages dealing with the twelve Labours must be studied beforehand.
The method to navigate in the site is given in the Home tab.

Abilities required for accessing the supramental world:
‘Capacity for indefinite expansion of consciousness on all planes including the material.
Limitless plasticity, to be able to follow the movement of becoming.
Perfect equality abolishing all possibility of ego reaction.’

Mother’s Agenda, Volume 3, 12 January 1962

The preceding volume was left off with the last of Heracles’ twelve ‘labours’, the ‘athloi’. These adventures of the hero were followed by the ‘praxeis’, or free acts, which are not however temporally situated ‘after’ the labours.
In fact, it must be remembered that the hero had raised the famous pillars at the beginning of the tenth labour when journeying towards the ‘misty’ island of Erythia, situated at the confines of the ocean at the far reaches of the Occident, to bring back the Cattle of Geryon. The eleventh labour, the quest for the apples of the Garden of the Hesperides, involved an acquisition of Knowledge which proved to be an endless endeavour, and the twelfth labour, the Capture of Cerberus at the threshold of Hades, a preliminary groundwork for the work in the body, a becoming conscious of that which impedes its transformation into a supramentalised body.
The last three labours were therefore considered by the Elders of ancient times to be realisations of a future humankind, this being corroborated by their mythical settings. The last labour to be set within a geographically identifiable location was the ninth, that of the Girdle of the Queen of the Amazons.
As the initiates made forward progress, the experiences undergone on the path of these three last labours must have allowed them to give some complementary indications.
However, since no greater synthesis could be formulated the chronology of the corresponding myths remains very uncertain. We have attempted to organise them from the point of Heracles’ sack of Troy, which would have logically had to have taken place during his ninth labour. It must be remembered that the complete adventures of Heracles represent the theory of the process of purification and liberation till the ultimate point of what Sri Aurobindo refers to as ‘the liberation of Nature’.

The sack of Troy

We must resume our discussion of the adventures of this hero from the moment in which he returned to Troy with a fleet of six ships to pillage the city, an episode which has been discussed in its first elements in chapter 3 of this work.
Heracles sought to avenge himself on Laomedon, who had refused to grant him his recompense for the liberation of Hesione, consisting of the greatest horses on earth which his grandfather Tros had received from Zeus in exchange for Ganymedes ‘who cares for joy’. According to Apollodorus, all of Laomedon’s sons were killed except for Podarces, ‘he who sets aside incarnation’, who was bought again by his sister Hesione and took on the name Priam, ‘the repurchased’. Homer on the other hand names some of his sons still living during the War of Troy which took place later on.
This episode indicates that the seeker who has achieved joy in the spirit – for Ganymedes was abducted by Zeus to become the cup-bearer of the gods – is granted a second chance to find the right path, that of a yoga which does not separate spirit and matter, but rather one within which it is no longer the ego that is at the origin of action but the divine. This corresponds to the second phase of yoga described in the Gita, the first being based on attaching oneself to neither acts nor the fruits of such acts, and the second being to conclusively eliminate the ego which carries out action to instead allow the divine to take action through one’s individual self.
This episode also makes clear one of the reasons behind the coming Trojan War, which is that the seeker has remained within an erroneous evolutionary path due to a lack of consecration.

This sack of the city occurs roughly two generations before the Trojan War, for Hector was not yet born and at the time of the war, Priam will be too advanced in years to actively take part as a warrior.
This gap between generations places the sack of Troy at the same period as the Calydonian boar hunt, long before the war led by Agamemnon. It could be deduced that the initiates of ancient times wished to indicate either that that the Trojan error had its roots in a lack of purification of the deepest vital nature, or that the seeker could detect the coming Trojan error within the theoretical process of purification and liberation long before being capable of carrying out the yogic reversal described by the war.

If conversely initiates had taken the trouble of specifying that the adventures which had followed the labours were praxeis or ‘free acts’, it was to indicate that the corresponding level of realisation was that of a liberation in the spirit and psychicisation, and therefore a liberation from fear, desire and ego (of the mental and vital), the seeker having perfectly accomplished the nine first ‘labours’ of which the essential goal was defined by the Nemean Lion and the Lernaean Hydra. These ‘praxeis’ concern those seekers who have come to the end of the ancient forms of yoga and are on route towards the great reversal of the Trojan War. This chapter therefore covers a wide period spanning either side of the Trojan War, which is why it has seemed preferable to place it following the study of the war.
However, there is an episode which along with the sack of Troy can still be associated with the athloi, for it occurs two generations before the Trojan War: the detour at Kos.

The detour at Kos

Upon leaving Toy, Heracles was subjected to a storm unleashed by Hera with the aid of Boreas. The goddess bade Hypnos to cast Zeus into sleep while the hero was dragged towards Kos, far from his own people.
Upon awakening Zeus first turned his anger towards Hypnos, but the latter sought refuge by the side of Nyx. The king of the gods then suspended Hera within the ether, securing two anvils to her feet and tying together her hands with an unbreakable gold chain. When, taking pity for this sight, any of the other gods came near to set her free, Zeus would throw him upon the earth where he would lie immobilised.
When Heracles reached the island of Kos its inhabitants believed that they were under attack. The hero was then obliged to fight to disembark, and slew king Eurypylus in the ensuing fray. He was himself wounded by Chalcodon, but Zeus removed his son far from the site of conflict.
(Pindar mentions the defeat of the Meropes on this occasion).
Then, with the king’s daughter Chalciope Heracles fathered Thessalus, who in turn fathered two children, Pheidippus and Antiphos, who later led the contingent from Kos to Troy.

The beginning of this story reveals a battle within the supraconscient of the seeker between the movement which seeks an indefinite extension of consciousness on all the planes (Zeus) and that which ensures that nothing is left behind within divine laws (Hera).
During a first period it was Hera who persecuted Heracles with her hatred, for she is the force which compels the right movement that can only be obtained at this stage through a deep purification. This is why Boreas, the wind of asceticism, granted its support to the goddess to test the hero.
As part of this trial, the power of the extension of consciousness is first inhibited (Hypnos casts Zeus into a deep sleep).
The seeker is then pulled towards a new opportunity for the opening of consciousness which is far from his customary mode of functioning (he is pulled towards the island of Kos, governed by Eurypylus, ‘a vast doorway’, and led far from his own people). This opening is the result of a work of the subconscient in the establishment of ancient structures (for Eurypylus was a son of Poseidon and Astypalaea, ‘the ancient city’).
When the highest aspect of the seeker situated at the level of the overmind emerges from the slumber in which it had been plunged, it aspires from the highest part of his being to overcome this possibility of a return into the inconscient, but this struggle is still destined to fail for this ‘hypnotism’ is still powerfully linked to the night of the primordial inconscience (Hypnos sought refuge by the side of the daughter of night, Nyx or ‘Night’).
The movement of extension of consciousness then presses down with all its strength against that which continually counterbalances it so that a new possibility of evolution may finally be settled for (Zeus constrains Hera’s capacity for movement). It even puts a stop to any other power of the overmind which would wish to support that which ‘limits’ (Zeus stops the other gods from freeing Hera).
But this first contact with the new path reveals a lack of inner understanding, and the seeker misses the passage of the ‘great doorway’ (the inhabitants of the island believed that they were under attack, and king Eurypylus was killed).
(This event seems to be linked to the conclusive end of the intervention of the logical mind within the process of yoga, the Merops vanquished by Heracles being homonymously associated with the wife of Sisyphus).

Once this lack of understanding has been surmounted, this new opening offers ‘an incontestable and powerful vision’ (Chalciope, ‘a vision of bronze’) for the pursuit of the path (Thessalus). These are the results of the work of the hero in the accomplishment of this vision, associated to a greater humility and discretion despite the importance of his realisations, which will participate in the great movement of yogic reversal of yoga (the Trojan War): ‘a self-limitation in the recourse to one’s own power’ (Pheidippus) and ‘a veil that masks its light’ (Antiphos).

The murder of Cyknus and the wounding of Ares

Heracles came into conflict with a son of Ares named Cyknus, who had entered into a union with Themistonoe, daughter of Ceyx, to whose home the hero was travelling.
The encounter took place at the sanctuary of Apollo at Pagasai, where accompanied by his father, Cyknus, shining resplendently in his armour, stole the sacrificial victims bought by believers (according to Stesichorus, he beheaded travellers to build a temple to Apollo with their heads).
Iolaus, the coach-driver of Heracles’ chariot, drove Heracles’ horses towards Cyknus, amongst them the horse Areion. Just before the conflict began, Athena advised the hero to slay Cyknus and to then attack Ares without attempting to rob the former of his ba