Mano A Mano

by Larry Fyffe

Some versions of Greek/Roman pre-Trojan War narratives assert that goddess Aphrodite curses Phaedra, the wife of Theseus, to lust after her stepson while Hera, the wife of Zeus, curses Heracules to suffer fits of uncontrollable rage.

Claimed too is that Theseus and Hercules are both partially divine within.

Heracules be a strong fellow indeed:
Distant ships are sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists
While a hurricane was blowing
(Bob Dylan: Jokerman)

Theseus befriends Heracules since the King of Athens realizes that the strongman at times is not knowingly responsible for the deaths he inflicts, and at others times does not intend that death be the result –  rather it’s due to his overwhelming strength.

Regardless, Heracules, not the brightest torch on the castle walls, and prone to drunkedness and merriment, tries to make amends for any sorrows that he causes, and attempts to reciprocate any favours received.

All too often,  Heracules ends up messing things up.

For example, Apollo asks the Fates to delay the death of the hospitable Admetus should the death-bound appointee find them a substitute; his wife volunteers, and off she goes to the Underworld.

Not aware of the deal, Hercules, having been kindly invited to stay at Admetus’ home, uses his great strength to rescue the wife from the Underworld.  Heracules brings her back home to the husband that she’s tried to save from sure death by going to Hades in the first place.

Similar to the following story ~ according to some early Christian authorities, God makes a deal with Satan whereby the Almighty agrees to sacrifice His Son Jesus in order to save humankind from the ordeals suffered by its members as a result of their sinful behaviour.

Supposedly in an intermediate stage between heaven and hell, Jesus travels to the Underworld in order to attempt to resolve issues outstanding between God and the Devil; there He’s to settle matters “mano a mano”, so to speak.

However, on second thoughts, Christ is called back from Hell, and sent to Heaven.

So interpreted by some are the biblical lines below:

He that descended 
Is the same also that ascended
Up far beyond the heavens
That He might fill all things
(Esphesians 4:10)


That is, Jesus leaves Hades before the possible wrestling contest with Satan gets  to take place.

The unintended consequences of doing so are unforeseen, but thankfully not so subtly encrypted within the song lyrics quoted beneath.

The Devil’s given a win by default, and humankind keeps right on sinning:

Shake the dust off of your feet
Don't look back
Nothing can hold you down
Nothing that you lack
Temptation's not an easy thing
Adam given the Devil reign
Because he sinned I got no choice
It run in my vein
(Bob Dylan: Pressing On)

Fear lurks in the background ~ the fear that, unlike the match in which the powerful Heracules with little trouble smacks Death down on the canvas, the horned ruler of Hades might just beat demi-human Jesus to a pulp.


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