Anyone who has been reading this blog a while, or who knows me, will probably know that I have a very dry sense of humour. I find people watching one of the best activities for my humour to take full force, so when I read about foreign leaders and their antics, it fills me with equal quantities of joy and dread… Joy because they are frankly hilarious and dread for the people in the respective countries. Now before you jump at me for reveling in the madness that is another countries way of living, I am not discriminative, I find the Royal family and the politicians of the UK equally ludicrous.
How can you deny the tenacity of people like Kim Jong Un who is the leader of North Korea, but, scarier, he is also their military leader despite the fact the only military experience he has is via computer games and he spends thousands each year on Swiss cheese imports.
This leads me nicely on to the man of this article, Russian Leader Vladimir Putin. He is fabulous isn’t he? He leads migratory birds out on their way using a glider, he rides topless in the forest, he saved a TV crew from a rampant tiger… and all this in his spare time. He has an 86% approval rating from his country which frankly is something other countries can only dream about. While his activities seem far fetched and amusing to anyone outside of the country, it obviously has some merit to his interactions with the local wildlife and citizens as they lap up his stunts with ferocity.
So much so that in 2014, for Putin’s 62 birthday, and art exhibition was put on in his honour and all of the pictures showed Putin as the Greek hero Hercules (or Heracles – which ever you would rather).
This is all effectively fan art, so sadly I can’t find the artists names (or if I could they are probably written in Russian and I haven’t recognised it as a name), but what I can do is show you each picture, and tell you the labour of Hercules and then what Putin is doing in the picture. I am going to do this as a four parter as honestly, this post could go on and on and on if I didn’t.
Just to get you up to speed with Hercules and why he was set 12 labours… Hera, seemingly was mad at Hercules, so briefly made him insane, during his brief insanity, he may have murdered his wife and children. When the insanity wore off, he was beside himself and prayed to the god Apollo for redemption. Apollo granted this by telling he had to serve Eurystheus for 12 years. Each year a seemingly impossible task was set for Herc, and he would always pull through it with the assistance of the Gods Hermes and Athena. Hercules, is deemed one of the greatest heroes in greek mythology, demonstrating Pathos, going through a virtuous struggle.
Anyway… enough with the background, lets get on to the good stuff…
Hercules and the Nemean Lion.
Hercules has to take on an invincible lion which is terrorising the hillsides of Nemea. The lion is said to have been kidnapping and eating the women of Nemea. Hercules is told that he has to bring back the skin of the lion to Eurystheus. Going to find the lion, Hercules stops at a village called Cleonae, he stays with a poor workman, who offers to make a sacrifice to the gods to protect Hercules during his lion hunt. Hercules tells the worker to wait 30 days and if he hasn’t returned he can sacrifice to Hercules himself as a hero, or if he returned they would both make a sacrifice to Zeus.
In true hunter style, Hercules then runs off into the hillside to find the lion. He very quickly works out that weapons against the beast are pointless. He then stalks the lion into it’s lair, working out that there are two entrances. Hercules blocks one of them and then backs the lion in to a corner and grabbing the lion strangles it, ignoring the claws and teeth.
Herc then returns to Cleonae, and makes sacrifice with his workman friend and then takes the dead lion to Eurystheus. Eurystheus is impressed, but also now scared of Herc and gives the other 11 labours to him from a good distance away.
Putin… is seen battling terrorism with his bare hands, in some illusion that he is impervious to the threat and will come back triumphant and a little scarier to the rest of the world.
Hercules and the Hydra
Herc’s next task was to go and defeat the hydra… if you’re not sure what a hydra is, it is a 9 headed creature (8 mortal heads and then one immortal head), it breathes fire and its blood is venomous…oh and if you cut the heads off they grow back. Herc didn’t fancy going alone to this one so his nephew, Iolaus, came along with him (he does this occasionally). On reaching Lerna, they very quickly found the lair of the hydra and managed to lure it out of its den by shooting flaming arrows at it. Once out, Herc, remembering the lion was impervious to weapons, thought he would go down the same route of attack, grabbing the hydra, only to find that it coiled itself around his foot, stopping him from escaping. As Herc cut the heads off, he found that two more would grow in there place; and just for fun, while he was fighting the hydra, a giant crab had taken a liking to Herc’s toes. After the crab got a swift bash of a club, Herc called on Iolaus to give him a hand. As Herc would cut the heads off, Iolaus would cauterise the neck which stopped the heads from growing back. Finally cutting off the immortal head, Herc grabbed it up and promptly buried it (as he couldn’t kill it) and placed a big rock over it… just in case it managed to find its way out. He then slit open the body of the hydra and dipped his arrowheads in the blood (good thinking Hercman).
On returning to Eurystheus and telling how the hydra was defeated, Eurystheus was not impressed as Herc had received help and felt that he had cheated the system.
Putin fights the hydra which represents the Western sanctions with the heads named as the European Union, USA, Canada and Japan, imposed after they accused Russia of supplying rebels in the Ukraine with weapons and soldiers – Russia obviously deny this claim and as the picture shows, Putin battled fearlessly to save his countries reputation in these allegations.
Hind of Ceryneia
There isn’t that much that is exciting about a deer is there – sure they are cute, but in the eyes of the Gods and Eurystheus, surely a deer isn’t that extraordinary. Well this really wasn’t any old deer, this was the deer of Artemis (goddess of the hunt) and it had golden antlers and hooves made of bronze. Herc knew he couldn’t kill the deer as he would anger Artemis, so he tracked it for a whole year (why he didn’t just ensnare it while it slept I don’t know). As the year drew to a close, the deer seemed as though it would get away, so Herc shot one of his arrows, then swooped in and picked the deer up and slung it over his shoulders. Travelling with the dying deer on his back, he conveniently bumps in to Artemis and Apollo.
Artemis, quite rightly was pretty angry, and asked Herc what he was doing. Herc was very honest and explained the situation, in that he was fulfilling labours for redemption and Apollo backed up the story. At this Artemis let her anger go and healed the deer, allowing Herc to take it back to Eurystheus.
Where was Herc’s third labour is one of patience, stamina and prowess, Putin’s simply is celebrated as the hero of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
I find it amazing that Putin is seen as a heroic figure, when outside of Russia some of his antics seem so… insane.
The art in the three pictures above range from the quite Greek style that you have probably seen on pottery, if you have ever visited a museum, to a more modern interpretation of the Roman view of Hercules, changing the toga or chiton to a suit of armour. I do find the matching of events to be a bit of a stretch to the imagination as well.
What do you think of the first three Labours of Putin? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?