Ogmios is a vaguer deity than the Irish god Ogma. Most of what we know about him comes from the Roman writer Lucan, who called him Hercules and described him as a master of persuasion and rhetoric. One inscription seems to record a dedication to him in fulfillment of a vow, and two curse tablets invoke him.
Tag Archives: Hercules
Hammer-Gods: Thor, Hercules and Sucellos
These three gods have a lot in common: they’re all brawny types whose worshippers were mainly working people, farmers, labourers, miners and even slaves. But what intrigued me about them was that their followers all wore their symbol – the hammer or club each god wielded.
When you consider what Hercules did for Gaul, it’s no wonder that they loved him. He founded the city of Alesia, and introduced the rule of law. “And for the entire period from the days of Heracles this city remained free and was never sacked until our own time…”1 (Diodorus Siculus 4.19.1)
Other myths said that Hercules was the father of Celtos, Galatos and Iberus, the ancestors of the Celts, Galatians and Iberians. This would make him the ancestor of the French, Spanish and Anatolian Celts, who would thus become many-times-grand-children of Jupiter.
To honour their fore-father, they offered statuettes of him at shrines (especially the god Borvo’s), and many Gaulish gods, including Ogmios and Smertrios, were paired with him as part of interpretatio celtica. (MacKillop: 248)
Midwives of Light: Eileithyia and Juno Lucina
Before Christmas I wrote about Holda, Berchta and Perchta, who led the wild hunt and perhaps received children in the afterlife. For the new year, I want to look at another trio of goddesses, who oversaw birth, and the infant’s journey into the light of life.
Altair: the Eagle
Eagles and thunder-gods often appear together, but in Greek myth the eagle was Zeus’ accomplice as well as his emblem. It stole the beautiful youth Ganymede from his fields and carried him to Olympos to be Zeus’ cupbearer. (Ganymede is also in the heavens, as the constellation Aquarius.)
The eagle also carried out Zeus’ punishment of Prometheus, who stole fire to give to the humans. Zeus had him chained to a cliff face, and the eagle came every day and tore out his liver. Hercules rescued Prometheus as part of his 11th Labour and killed the eagle. Zeus then put it in the sky to reward its faithful service.
The Eagle features among the Hercules family of constellations, by the way, which include large asterisms like Ophiuchus the Snake-Handler as well as tiny ones like Ara, the Altar.
Helios: He Who Gladdens Mortals
Helios, the Greek sun-god, doesn’t get much press. Compared to the oracle-god and plague-sender Apollo, he gets hardly any. I remember once watching Jeopardy with friends and being unable to convince anyone that Helios was the sun-god, not Apollo. (I was a bit disappointed in Alex Trebeck.)
The problem that Helios faces is that he is the sun; his name means “sun” and his role in Greek myth is to rise, shine and set every day. Unlike Apollo, he is too predictable to need buying-off. In the Odyssey, when his cattle are stolen Helios has to convince Zeus to raise a storm to punish the thieves. Apollo would’ve shot ’em full of arrows.