We’ve officially started!
Day Seven of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “G” post will whisk us to the Garden of Hesperides.
Who were the Hesperides?
Before I get to the ‘garden’ part, the Hesperides were a group of nymphs (or goddesses) representing the evening. Their name comes from the Greek word for evening, hespere. They were supposedly the daughters of Nyx, goddess of night and Erebus, god of darkness, which would make sense – they’re personification of evening. Other sources, however, claim them to be the daughters of Atlas, the titan shouldering the Earth and universe.
Whatever their parentage, they were best known for being the attendants of the Garden of Hesperides under the watchful eye of their employer, Hera.
The actual number of the nymphs is debated – three, four, seven maidens, who knows. They all had the same duty: vigilant keep over Hera’s beloved garden and most especially the fruit it bore for the goddess.
And what fruit do you ask is so special? Bananas? Grapes? Tomatoes?
Hera had a grove of apple trees bearing golden apples. These (ambrosia-infused) apples granted immortality to anyone who ate them. Talk about some cross-breeding…
The inner workings of Hera’s (oh-so-complicated) mind:
Anyways, Hera had a decent reason to want to safeguard these delicious treats. And though the nymphs, the Hesperides, were to guard the golden apples and care for the garden’s wealth, Hera couldn’t trust them.
So, on top of having the nymphs guarding the garden, Hera employs the hundred-headed dragon, Ladon, to watch over the Hesperides nymphs watching the garden. Lots of vigil going on here.
Where did this magical garden sprout from?
The garden itself was a wedding gift to Hera from the goddess Gaea.
Located in the west, the Garden of Hesperides has been compared to the Garden of Eden. There’s a lot of similarity between the apple(s), the serpents (dragon, in this case), and the subject of immortality. You can read more about this fascinating correlation the website, Solving Light.
The infamous Apple of Discord:
The Garden of Hesperides’s magical golden apples star in the Trojan War.
It’s the golden apple that Eris, goddess of chaos and strife, inscribes the message “To the Fairest” and tosses it into a wedding celebration of Achilles’s parents. It immediately started a debate between Hera, Aphrodite and Athena. Zeus is called to choose; probably scared as to what the other two goddesses not chosen will do to him, Zeus passes the torch to a mortal wedding guest, the Prince of Troy, Paris. Paris chooses Aphrodite because she promises him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen.
And all this happened because poor Eris wasn’t invited, so she decides to start a war. (Remember the 13th fairy from Sleeping Beauty – that didn’t end well either…well, not initially.)
Hercules’s Ten-ish Labors:
The second memorable event in Greek mythology featuring the Garden of Hesperides is Hercules’s Ten (then Twelve, or Ten-ish) Labors. Labors he performed as penance after being stricken with brief murderous madness by a jealous Hera. Hercules woke from the madness realizing he’d slain his wife and children (where are the Furies?)
His eleventh Labor is a compensation for one of the Labors, the killing of the Hydra (he had help!) and cleaning out the stables of miserly, oath-breaking King Augeas.
The Eleventh Labor had Hercules stealing the Hesperidean Apples. Not really sure if his goal was to take one, a few, or denude the trees in the garden’s grove of the whole lot, but Hercules manages to do it
Now there are two version of how Hercules completed this extra Labor.
Hercules travels first, aimlessly, trying to find where the Garden is located; it’s a well-kept secret. But Hercules gets the information he wants and seeks Atlas’s help. While Hercules holds the weight of the world (literally), the Titan Atlas actually goes off to collect the Hesperidean Apples. As the father of the Hesperides nymphs, Atlas had access to the Garden anytime.
Task completed, Atlas returns with the apples. Only the Titan doesn’t want to go back to holding the Earth. Hercules has to trick Atlas to shouldering the Earth again before he runs off with his prize. Of course, it was all pointless anyways because the Hesperidean Apples do not belong to mortals and Hercules has to pass them over to Athena for her to return them to their rightful place. (No touchy, mortals.)
Hercules enters the Garden himself. He’s faced by the dragon, Ladon, and he must fight and slay it before he strides out with the magical apples. (Understandably, the Hesperides nymphs didn’t stop him.) Same ending, where Athena carries the apples back to their place once Hercules is given the green light of task completion.
MORAL: Some things are too good to be true…but when they are good and true, hunt them down!
My sources to help with this post were:
Resourceful sites! Please do check them out!