The Comparison of the Prophet Jonah and Hercules

Hercules wrestles Triton

In the second troparion of the sixth ode of the iambic canon that was composed by Saint John of Damascus for the feast of Theophany, we chant:Ἐκ ποντίου λέοντος ὁ τριέσπερος,
ξένως Προφήτης ἐγκάτοις φλοιδούμενος,
αὖθις προῆλθε, τῆς παλιγγενεσίας,
σωτηρίαν δράκοντος ἐκ βροτοκτόνου,
πᾶσι προφαίνων,
τῶν χρόνων ἐπ’ ἐσχάτων.

The triple-night Prophet
surprisingly made the stomach of the lion of the ocean swell,
and got here forth, making manifest beforehand to all
our regeneration within the final days
and our salvation from the dragon that slays mankind.

Interpreting this hymn, Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite writes in his Eortodromion the next, based mostly on what Saint Cyril of Alexandria wrote:

“In their mythology, the Greeks say that Alcmene had relations with the pseudo-god Zeus over the course of three nights, and by this Hercules was conceived, which is why he has been named ‘triple-night’. They have additional mythologized, that among the many many feats and contests accomplished by Hercules, he entered into a big fish described as a canine, whereas he held a sword in his hand, by which he lower open the stomach of the big fish, and emerged unhurt, apart from the truth that his head was bare of hair. The Melodist subsequently transfers the mythology of Hercules to the story of Jonah, borrowing the identical phrases of the poet Lycophron, who wrote about Hercules by iambic verses:

That triple-night lion whom
The jaws of Triton’s sharp-fanged hound consumed:
Living he carved its vitals, however, being burnt
By steam from cauldron on a fireless fireside,
Dropped to the bottom the bristles from his head,
That child-destroyer, smash of my land.

… By this being written beforehand it foretells the common resurrection of the dead.”



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