Phoenicians In The Central Mediterranean: Melqart’s Conversion To Hercules

Legend tells us that he was one of Jason’s 50 Argonauts on that epic journey to retrieve the Golden Fleece from Colchis, an ancient city over 1,200 miles east of Greece. Afterward, he turned west and forged the “Heraclean Way” on his return trip from the southernmost tip of Iberia. For this reason, the monolithic rocks on each side of Gibraltar, the origin of his trek, are still called the Pillars of Hercules.

Of course, these travels never actually happened because Hercules never actually existed. But the Greeks used his mythos to justify their interests in the western Mediterranean. Wherever Greeks colonized, Hercules had conveniently voyaged first to clear the land of wild beasts and savages. And when ancient Greece’s hegemony in the Mediterranean began to dwindle, her successors adopted the same tactic.

By Michael Arnold November 8, 2020The Collector
Shekel of Tyre with Melqart riding hippocamp – about 350–310 B.C.
Mint: Phoenicia, Tyre

Gods and Goddesses at
Phoenician Sea and Land Voyages and Routes