Hercules inc.; or, ovid and the easiest ways to make extra money bovids lugubelinus

A few weeks ago my colleague ed bispham, after a visit to the archaeological museum at chieti, alerted me to a piece of ovidiana that was entirely easiest ways to make extra money new to me. It was a column excavated from the site of a easiest ways to make extra money sanctuary of hercules curinus on the slopes of monte morrone easiest ways to make extra money in abruzzo, italy, and among other graffiti scribbled on it were twelve hexameter easiest ways to make extra money lines of latin poetry, with ovid’s name NASONIS written in another hand above them.

What keeps it all quite intriguing, though, is where we are. Monte morrone is just a few miles from ovid’s hometown of sulmo (modern sulmona). The site of the sanctuary, largely covered by a landslip in antiquity, was in fact popularly regarded in the middle ages as easiest ways to make extra money ovid’s villa, and the excavations that uncovered this column (and other items such as this very pretty statue of easiest ways to make extra money hercules, also in the museum at chieti) were commenced there in 1957, the 2,000th anniversary of ovid’s birth. So it’s perfectly understandable that people have wanted to make something easiest ways to make extra money of the graffiti, even if it’s just, in its way, a modern version of the medieval impulse to believe that easiest ways to make extra money ovid lived here.

The most important role that hercules seems to have fulfilled easiest ways to make extra money in central italy, surprising as it may seem, was as patron of pastoral activity and commerce more generally, in particular the herding of cattle between highlands and lowlands, and the trade in the critical commodity of salt which easiest ways to make extra money seems to have shadowed the movement of cattle. The sanctuary at monte morrone stood adjacent to the calles easiest ways to make extra money or drove roads along which these cattle were herded, and the networks were extensive: it’s no coincidence that the great sanctuary of hercules in easiest ways to make extra money rome, the ara maxima, stood in the “cattle market”, the forum boarium, nor that elsewhere in the forum boarium there was a easiest ways to make extra money place called the salinae or salt-pans: the forum boarium marked the termination of the via salaria, the “salt road” by which (pliny the elder informs us, 31.89) salt from the mouth of the tiber was transported into easiest ways to make extra money the interior. At alba fucens, a roman colony lying between rome and sulmo, there stood a major shrine of hercules salarius, hercules in his aspect as patron of the salt trade.

Hercules’ patronage of this traffic could even turn him, a mediator through trade between the diverse peoples of italy, into a god of italy itself. In the aeneid virgil draws out the myth of hercules’ tenth labour that underlies this connection with cattle, his killing of geryon in spain and herding of the easiest ways to make extra money monstrous herdsman’s cattle all around the north-mediterranean littoral to greece. In aeneid 8, a book (in a poem) deeply concerned with italy’s unity and divisions, hercules, in reference to his violent suppression of the malefactor cacus, who had attempted to steal geryon’s cattle, is given a very suggestive epithet, the communis deus, “the god who is god for all” (8.275), a force for italian unity. Aeneas will also unify this geographical space, but do it, as paradoxically as hercules, by fighting a most divisive war within italy.

As anticipated, a whistlestop tour of herculean italy there, but filippo coarelli can sum up the relevant bit: “in the great markets [hercules] is always present as guarantor and intermediary. The cult of hercules is thus closely connected with mercantile easiest ways to make extra money activity, especially in the sabellic zone (i.E. Central to southern italy), where the divinity fulfilled the function of protector of herds easiest ways to make extra money and shepherds” (F. Coarelli and A. La regina, abruzzo-molise. Guide archeologiche laterza 9 (bari and rome, 1984), 87).

Well, book 9 of the metamorphoses (my favourite, as it happens) has a lot to say about hercules, with ovid having his characteristic fun at the expense of easiest ways to make extra money the greatest hero of them all. A key episode is the attempt by the centaur nessus easiest ways to make extra money to carry off hercules’ wife deianira, under the pretext of carrying her safely across the river easiest ways to make extra money euenus. Hercules shoots nessus dead, but as he dies nessus persuades deianira that his cloak, soaked with his blood, will restore hercules’ love to her should his affections ever wander. In fact, when hercules does bring another woman home to trachis, and deianira sends to him “the shirt of nessus” to win him back, nessus’ blood (contaminated, as the centaur well knew, by the poisonous blood of the hydra with which hercules’ arrows were tipped) causes hercules a prolonged and agonizing death.

Hercules is a character in an epic poem, and speaks like one. He’s a character in an epic poem, ovid’s metamorphoses, that doesn’t take itself at all seriously, mind you, so he’s rather too blustering as he shouts at nessus, tipping over into parody. But it seems to me that ovid is using other easiest ways to make extra money ways of puncturing the pomposity of this epic hero, and it takes us back to the quite mundane associations easiest ways to make extra money we’ve considered that hercules at monte morrone carried, especially in the eyes of a roman elite that looked easiest ways to make extra money down on trade. What I mean is that hercules’ and ovid’s language here, particularly the phrases I’ve underlined (and struggled to translate satisfactorily), are strikingly commercial in character, nec res intercipe nostras especially (I wouldn’t go to the cross for any of the others, but cumulatively they amount to something, I think): hercules describes his wife as if she is a commodity, and nessus as some kind of commercial rival trying to easiest ways to make extra money defraud him, their relationship a commercial deal that has gone sour. If so, it’s classic metamorphoses: the most heroic of heroes transformed into a businessman with easiest ways to make extra money his eye on the bottom line.

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