The greatest hero of ancient Greece was Herakles („Glory of Hera”), called Hercules by the Romans. He was born with the name Alkaios or Alkeides, but he changed it to Herakles adviced by the Oracle of Delphi after he killed his children in a fit of madness apparently caused by goddess Hera. Hercules was said to have been born in Thebes, being the son of Zeus and Queen Alcmene – the great-granddaughter of demigod Perseus and wife of King Amphitrion. He gained fame after completing 12 labors especially due to his extraordinary strength. Equally important are his presence with the Argonauts in the search for the Golden Fleece and his participation in the war of the Olympian gods against the Giants.
According to Greek legends, Hercules spent a large part of his life in the territories of the Thracians, especially in Dacia, as it becomes evident especially from his 12 labors. The first labour was the killing of the Nemean Lion, Nemea being a Greek city in northeast of the Peloponnese peninsula. However, there were no lions known to ever exist in Greece. Even historian Herodotus said about Dacia: „only in these lands lions are born in Europe„. Gilgamesh also stated the same thing in his famous epic, referring to the same territory: „in these mountains I have seen lions before„. Therefore, there is a high chance that the lion was killed by Hercules either in Africa or in Dacia, but not in Greece. In his second labor, the hero killed the Lernaean Hydra, apparently in ancient Greece. However, myths say that the monster’s parents were Typhon and Echidna, who lived in the underground of the Western Carpathians, and Hydra’s role was to guard the entrance to the Underworld, that is Transylvania. Therefore, it is possible that the second labor of the demigod also took place in the land of the Dacians. In his third labor, Hercules caught goddess Artemis’ golden-horned deer in the land called Istria, near the Black Sea. Istria can only be the territory crossed by the Ister / Istros River (i.e. Danube), for Greek poet Pindar it was the land of the Hyperboreans, that is the ancient Dacia. In his eighth labor, Hercules stole the man-eating mares of demigod Diomedes, king of Thrace, who lived on the shore of the Black Sea. In his next mission, the hero stole the golden girdle of Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons. It is known that the Amazons were also part of the Thracian people, living near the Black Sea. To fulfill his tenth mission, Hercules stole giant Geryon’s herd, whose abode was in the land of the Hesperides, located at the end of the world, where Titan Atlas held the sky on his shoulders. For the ancient Greeks, the Omu Peak in the Bucegi Mountains was called Atlas, being considered the place where the Earth meets the sky. In the next mission, Hercules returned to the same land of the Hesperides, from where he stole the golden apples that grew in an enchanted garden, similar to the Garden of Eden in the Bible. And the biblical garden was none other than the Dacian Transylvania. The last of the 12 labors was the abduction of the Underworld’s guardian, the three-headed dog Cerberus, and the Underworld for the ancients was the same Transylvania. In addition to these, Hercules also made other visits to Dacia. He fought alongside the Olympian gods in the war against the giants, which ancient Greeks believed it took place in the Dacians’ mountains. He freed Titan Prometheus from Mount Atlas (Omu Peak), as recalled by the grammarian Apollodorus. And last but not least, he joined Jason’s Argonauts on their expedition to the land of the Hyperboreans / Dacians in search of the Golden Fleece.
Herodotus considered Hercules to be the forefather of the Agathyrsi, Scythians and Geloni tribes. He said that Greeks near the Black Sea recounted that the demigod, returning to Greece with Geryon’s herd, arrived in the land of the Scythians. While he was sleeping, his mares disappeared. Hercules set out to find the horses and, traversing all the surrounding lands, arrived in an area called the Woodland. Here, a nymph named Echidna, who ruled over Scythia, lived in a cave. She was a mixed creature, with the lower part of her body as a serpent and the upper part as a woman. Echidna told the hero that she would return his horses only after a lovemaking session. Hercules accepted and after a while, Echidna gave birth to three sons: Agathyrsus, Gelonus and Scythes. According to Herodotus, they became the founders of the royal dynasties of the Agathyrsi (in Transylvania), Geloni (in Podolia) and Scythians (in the north of the Black Sea). The father of history believed that the region of Hilea or the Woodland, Echidna’s homeland, was located near the Borysthenes River (Dnieper). However, Greek traditions prior to Herodotus claimed that the nymph’s residence was in the land of the Arimi north of the Ister (Danube) River. Hesiod recounted that Echidna was forced by the gods to live in a cave in the land of the Arimi, under a rock in a valley surrounded by mountains, most likely referring to the underground city in the Apuseni Mountains.
The encounter of the demigod with the nymph has been preserved in Romanian ballads inherited from the ancient Dacians. The hero, called Iovan Iorgovan here, a great warrior from the eastern regions, comes to the Grayheaded Mountains (of Cerna), to the Vergia or Covergia Mountains to hunt stags and deer. In other versions, he searches for a beautiful girl in the Golden Mountains (the same Apuseni Mountains). At that time, Cerna was a wild river with black water and huge waves that flowed with a terrifying roar. Finding no boat to cross to the other side, Iorgovan asked the river to calm its waves and to show him the way to cross, for he had come to that place to find a wild, beautiful and strong girl, as he had been destined at birth. Touched, Cerna River showed him where to cross the water and where to find the beautiful girl. Following the river’s advice, the hero found the girl with a face like the Moon, golden hair, a „caressing voice” and a „beautiful way of speaking” hidden under a rock. As soon as he saw her, enchanted by her beauty, Iorgovan confessed to her that he had traveled the world far and wide, but had never met a woman like her. The girl reminded the hero that they already met; long ago, when they were both in the service of a princess, he had impregnated her; out of shame, she retreated into the wilderness. Seeing that the girl did not want to leave the cave, Iorgovan set his dogs and falcons on her. In vain the young woman begged him tearfully to call off the animals, which were scratching her and her child. Iorgovan, mad with anger, only wanted to kill the one who had rejected him. With her last breath, the girl cursed Iovan Iorgovan, who was turned into a stone pillar. In the Odyssey, the poet Homer mentions a statue in the Cerna Valley, referring to a curious simulacrum of Hercules, a real but lifeless figure of the hero, which he calls „the idol of Hercules’ power„. According to Plato, that soulless depiction of the demigod, which was not a statue carved by human hands, was found in the extreme parts of the Danube, in the land of the Hyperboreans, where Hesiod claimed that Zeus had thrown the dragon Typhon into a deep cave. „It is, therefore, undoubtedly true that the idol of Hercules’ power, of which Homer speaks, was this primitive statue near the Oceanos Potamos, one and the same traditional simulacrum with the petrified figure of the hero from the Cerna valley, mentioned in our epic songs„, noted Nicolae Densusianu in Prehistoric Dacia. From the researchers’ point of view, that petrified figure of Hercules could only be a primitive statue, carved into a rock in prehistoric times. In the lands of the Thracians (including Dacia), Hercules, seen as a national hero, had statues since the earliest times. The oldest statue in Italy (originally inhabited by the Thracians), as Pliny wrote, was that of Hercules in the Forum Boarium, consecrated by Evander of Beroea. Pausanias noted that in the village of Hyett in Boeotia, inhabited by the Pelasgians / Thracians, there was a primitive statue of Hercules, which was nothing but an unshaped boulder. Ancient Roman traditions claim that in the Cerna Valley there once stood a colossal depiction of Hercules, an ancient monument that Dacian folk songs linked to the legend of a beautiful maiden who lived in a cave. That monument of Hercules was located exactly where it is said that Iovan Iorgovan was turned into a stone pillar, which means that it is one and the same character. For the Romans, Hercules was the tutelary god of the Cerna regions, where he was worshiped as Hercules Invictus („Unconquered”), Hercules Sanctus („Holy”) or Hercules Salutiferus („Healer”). A significant number of statues of the demigod were found in that region. Just like in Greek legends, in Daco-Romanian folk songs Iorgovan is the hero who traveled the world far and wide, who fought with the lion, with the gigantic dragon (Hydra) and with Marcoci (Mars of the Romans or Marduk of the Babylonians), who had amorous relations with the serpent-woman (Ekhidna) and who pursued the yellow deer (goddess Artemis’ golden-horned deer) through the mountains crossed by the Jiu and Olt rivers. He is called „club arm„, „proud and majestic captain” or „Iovan the strong and great„, always depicted as a traveler, descriptions that perfectly fit Hercules.
Homer and Hesiod do not say a word about the death of the demigod. However, the narratives collected by the grammarian Apollodorus, identical to the Roman legends, claim that crossing a dangerous river in a mountainous area was the cause of the hero’s death. Apollodorus tells us that Hercules and his wife, Deianira, arrived one day at the wild river Even. He crossed the water without fear, but entrusted Deianira to the centaur Nessus, who had been given by the gods the task of crossing travelers over that water, for a fee, of course. During the river crossing, the centaur tried to rape Deianira, but Hercules, having reached the other side, pierced his chest with an arrow dipped in the Hydra’s venom. To get revenge, Nessus taught Deianira, with his last breath, to prepare from his poisoned blood a love potion for Hercules. After a while, when the demigod was preparing to bring a sacrifice to Zeus on the promontory of Cenaeon in Euboea, his wife sent him a shirt smeared with the ointment prepared according to the centaur’s teachings. During the ceremony, due to the proximity to the fire, the shirt heated up and the venom of the Hydra, that Nessus’ blood had been infected, entered the hero’s body. Realizing that he will die, Hercules built a pyre on Mount Oeta, sat on it and began to beg passers-by to light the pyre to put an end to his suffering. We do not know why he did not light it himself, but he probably had his reasons. No one dared to accept his request, except for the shepherd Poias. As a thank you, the demigod gave him his bow. Upon hearing that Hercules was burning alive, according to Herodotus, the Diras River in Thessaly left its bed and rushed to the hero’s place of suffering to save his life by extinguishing the pyre with its waters.
Both Apollodorus’ and Herodotus’ versions link the death of the demigod to a flowing water, just like the Dacian ballad of Iovan Iorgovan. Deianeira, with whom Hercules wanted to cross the wild river, is only a derivative of Dierna, the ancient name of Cerna. Even the promontory of Cenaeon, the place of the hero’s death, leads us to the same name Cerna. Also the name Even, which the ancient Greeks attributed to the river that the hero crossed, is actually the name of the demigod in the territory of northern Danube, namely Ivan or Iovan. Therefore, the death of Hercules took place in Dacia, where he spent a large part of his life. And so a new question arises: where was he born?
The Greeks, who adopted him as a national hero, claimed that the demigod was born in their homeland, specifically in Thebes. However, not everyone was convinced that this was really the case. One of the skeptics was historian Herodotus who, during his travels through Egypt and Phoenicia, tried to discover the origin of Hercules’ cult. But, as he confessed in his writings, he could not find the true homeland of the demigod, only that the cult of this hero was very old. Considering that Hercules fought in the second war of the gods, against the giants, at a time when the city of Thebes did not exist, undoubtedly the Greek story is an invention. Could he not have been born in the territory where he spent a large part of his life and where he also met his end, that is in the north of the Danube, on the land later known as Dacia? The Greeks considered him to be the ancestor of the Agathyrsi, Getae, Scythians and Latins Thracians. The epithets of „Roman„, „Romanian” and „Shepherd„, which he has in Romanian legends, his life as a shepherd, farmer and fighter with the bow, club, mace, sword or spear, his travels through the mountains to look for wild boars, lions, deer, dragons or maidens, his cult in the Cerna Valley, as well as his physical attributes (gigantic stature, extraordinary strength, thick beard) reveals him as a Pelasgian hero from the north of the Danube, as Nicolae Densusianu noticed. In addition, Hercules was a demigod, and for the ancients, the Pelasgians (and the Dacians, their descendants) were considered demigods. Therefore, it cannot be out of place to consider that the birthplace of Hercules was the land of the gods, Dacia. To find the exact area of his birth, we only need to look into Greek mythology. His mother was called Alkmene by the Greek authors, a corrupt form of the name Al(k)mana or Armana, as the demigod himself was called Almannus by the ancient Germans. Therefore, Hercules’ homeland (or his „mother”) was the land of the Arimians / Armins in ancient Dacia. His first name in Romanian folklore, Iovan, suggests that he was the son of Jove / Jupiter, the name given by the Romans to Zeus. His second name, Iorgovan, comes from the Greek „georgos” („farmer”) and suggests either that he was the son of Zeus Georgos (one of the names given by the Greeks to the leader of their pantheon), or that Hercules was the one who plowed the land for the first time. In Christianity he became Saint George (derived from the same „georgos” of the Greeks), and his victory over the Hydra was celebrated through the well-known episode of the slaying of the dragon. In 394 AD, in the battle against the usurper Flavius Eugenius (whose banner was the icon of Saint George), Roman emperor Theodosius the Great even told his soldiers: „In front of of our army is the cross, and in front of the enemy crowds is the image of Hercules„. The name given by the Greeks, Herakles, was translated as „The Glory of Hera”, but it seems to come from the same root as the Roman names Hercules, Hercoles or Hercles, and the Etruscan names Hercele, Herce or Ercle, which is „arkhles„. Under this name we find him on the list of Egypt’s rulers from the shepherd kings dynasty (in Romanian folk poems, Iovan Iorgovan is called „shepherd’s son„), Arkhles / Sikruhaddu / Sokar-Hor ruling around 1600 BC. Priest Manethon even recounted that at one point, god Osiris left Hercules in charge of Egypt. The word „arkhles„, from which the names Herakles, Hercules or Ercle were derived, comes from an ancient Pelasgian word, the root of the Romanian word „arcaș” („archer”). This epithet fits the demigod perfectly, considering that the ancient Greeks often called him „The Archer„, being the best archer in Homer’s Odyssey.
It seems that Hercules was also known in Mesopotamia, where he was called Gilgamesh. Although the stories of the two characters are largely different, there are a number of similarities that demonstrate they are one and the same demigod. Gilgamesh’s deeds resemble those of his Greek counterpart, such as his battle with the celestial bull, with the lion or his journey to Dacia. Both had an unusual strength and wore a lion skin as a garment. Often armed only with a club, both became famous for their adventurous travels. Samson from Israel also seems to be the same character; born after his mother was visited by an angel and also endowed with an unusual strength, Samson led a life full of struggles, especially against the Philistines, the Israelites’ enemies. He also fought a lion, a bizarre thing for the land of Israel, where these felines never existed. Therefore, the stories of the three, different in appearance, seem to describe one character, called Iovan Iorgovan in Romanian folklore.
Fighting on the side of Zeus / Enlil’s celestial gods against his brothers, the giants (Pelasgians), and freeing Prometheus / Enki from the Omu Peak, Hercules became a traitor. He proved this later, when he returned to Dacia to steal various treasures, such as the golden apples from the Hesperides’ garden, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta’s golden girdle, the golden-horned hind of the goddess Artemis, the man-eating mares of the giant Diomedes, the giant Geryon’s herd and the three-headed dog, Cerberus, the guardian of the Underworld (Transylvania). After completing his 12 labors, Hercules returned to Dacia with the Argonauts to steal the golden fleece of the Pelasgians from the sacred forest of the god of war. The injustices against the people to which he belonged did not stop there, as ancient Greeks claimed that Hercules and the Argonauts looted Troy (a Pelasgian city) before the war described by Homer in the Iliad. The demigod defeated the Bebryces (a Thracian tribe that lived in Bithynia), killed their king, Migdon, and took their land, which he offered to Prince Lycus of Mysia. He killed Lepreus, Alastor and Periclymenus, god Poseidon’s grandsons, as well as the demigods Eryx, Linus and Augeias, and the giants Cychreides, Porphyrion, Mimas, Albion, Bergion and Antaeus, all of whom belonged to the same Pelasgian lineage as he did.
It seems that Zeus / Enlil did not put much effort into convincing Hercules to betray his people. Ancient myths describe him not only as a great hero of mankind, but also as a ruthless, extremely violent, arrogant, sadistic, mentally unstable person, with murderous tendencies and unusual sexual desires. He killed Linus, who initiated him into the secrets of music, because the poor teacher dared to correct his mistakes. In a demonstration boxing match he killed the famous Eryx from Sicily. Due to his madness, he killed his children from his first wife, Megara. Also due to his madness, he threw his best friend, Iphitus, off the giant wall of a city. One day, while Theiodamas, the king of the Driopes, was plowing his land, Hercules killed one of his oxen because he was hungry. When the king dared to oppose him, he was also assassinated, and the Driopes were forced to wage a fierce war against the demigod. The Greeks also said that Zeus’ son kidnapped Princess Iole from Oechalia after killing her father and brothers. In Romanian ballads, he set his dogs and falcons on the girl who rejected him and on their child, in the Cerna Valley. In the Old Testament he killed 30 men and stole their clothes to pay off a lost bet. Later, he caught 300 foxes, tied them by their tails in pairs and set a torch between each pair, leaving the poor animals to die in terrible agony. In the Epic of Gilgamesh he is described as a tyrant who „continuously tortures” the inhabitants of the city of Uruk, „piles up tasks” on them, wakes them up „with the sound of a drum„, forces them to build the city walls, „sets traps to catch people” and sleeps with any woman he desires, much to the despair of the fathers and husbands of the victims, because the demigod „holds in his hands the entire power of Uruk” and the gods „have granted him to rule over the peoples„. This exceptionally high sexual appetite was also highlighted by the ancient Greeks. In addition to his four wives and many female lovers (including the serpent-woman Echidna), Hercules also had nine male lovers. In Eroticos, historian Plutarch noted that the demigod’s lovers were countless. The Greeks also said that Hercules slept with all fifty daughters of King Thespius from Thespiae in a single night, impregnating them all. In the Bible, in addition to his Philistine wife, he also loved Delilah from the Valley of Sorek and a prostitute from Gaza. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that in the Romanian legend from the Cerna Valley, dogs and falcons were set upon the girl who rejected his sexual advances. In conclusion, the greatest hero of Antiquity seems to have been a treacherous traitor to his people, with psychological problems, sadistic, merciless, violent, with murderous impulses and an unusual sexual appetite. It is true that he killed some creatures, but he did not do it to save mankind from those monsters, but only to fulfill his missions. For example, he killed the Nemean lion, the Hydra of Lerna, the Stymphalian birds and captured the boar from Mount Erymanthus, the hind of the goddess Artemis, the bull from Crete, the mares of Diomedes, the cattle of Geryon and Cerberus only at the orders of King Eurystheus from Argos. What a true defender of mankind!
Why did the traitor Hercules return to Dacia so often? Considering that he stole the golden fleece, the golden apples, the golden girdle of Hippolyta and the the golden-horned hind, we can assume that the purpose of his visits was material wealth. But why would he do that? Dacia has always been a land full of gold, but the demigod was not lacking in wealth, which he could obtain from any corner of the world. If his goal was not enrichment, then what was it? The Oracle of Delphi predicted to him that „when all this is over, you will become one of the immortals„. In the Epic of Gilgamesh he went to Dacia to learn the secret of immortality. It seems that immortality was an early desire of the demigod, as the Greeks claimed that after he was born, Hercules was secretly taken to the goddess Hera to suckle her immortality milk. When she noticed the infant at her breast, Hera threw him away, interrupting the process, and the spilled milk turned into what we call the Milky Way today. Therefore, it is possible that his true mission in Dacia, where the spring of immortality is located, was to obtain immortality, as Hercules considered it a right that he deserved as the son of the king of the gods. And since this right was denied to him shortly after his birth, the demigod probably tried to obtain it after he grew up, spending almost his entire life on the land of the gods, later known as Dacia. If for the peoples of Mesopotamia he discovered the secret of immortality, which he lost because of a snake, the ancient Greeks claimed that Hercules received the coveted immortality at the end of his adventures, being moved alongside the gods on Mount Olympus. If he really discovered the secret of immortality in Dacia, how and under what circumstances did this happen?
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the demigod did not discover immortality in the water of life, but in a plant that grew in that water. In Greek mythology, Hercules’ only discovery in the field of botany was the golden apples. According to legend, they grew in the garden of the Hesperides, a land at the end of the world, far from the eyes of mortals (just like the biblical Garden of Eden), near the place where Titan Atlas held the sky on his shoulders. We have already seen that the Atlas Mountain was for the ancient Greeks the Omu Peak in the Bucegi Mountains. The legend states that Hercules freed Titan Prometheus who gratefully revealed to him the secret location of the golden apples. Because spatial orientation did not seem to be his strong point, the demigod asked Titan Atlas to bring them to him. Atlas agreed, on the condition that Zeus’ son would hold the sky on his shoulders in his place. Upon returning with the apples, Atlas refused to resume his role as the bearer of the burden. Hercules tricked him, asking him to hold up the sky for a few moments while he put on his shoulders the lion’s skin. When the Titan resumed its initial position, holding up the sky, Hercules ran away with the golden apples and brought them to King Eurystheus. Because only the gods could have the apples, the king was forced to give them to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who took them back to the garden of Hesperides.
According to ancient Greeks, the golden apples in this garden belonged to goddess Hera, who received them at her wedding to Zeus from Gaia, the goddess of the Earth. Aphrodite gave three of these apples to Hippomenes / Melanion, who used them to win the hand of maiden Atalanta. Known for her swift feet, Atalanta had announced that she would marry the man who could run faster than her. During the race, Melanion dropped the golden apples given to him by Aphrodite and she, unable to resist her curiosity, stopped to pick them up, thus losing the race. The two married and lived happily until the day they had sex in a sanctuary of Zeus, who turned them into lions as punishment for the sacrilege committed. However, the most famous golden apple from the garden of Hesperides is the one that led to the start of the Trojan War. Upset for not being invited to the wedding of goddess Thetis and King Peleus, Eris, the goddess of discord, threw a golden apple into the midst of the guests, on which was written „to the fairest one„. Goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite claimed it, each considering herself more beautiful than the others. As an agreement could not be reached, Zeus asked Paris, one of the princes of Troy, to decide the winner of the beauty contest. Each of the goddesses tried to convince the prince that she deserved the golden apple: Hera promised him power and wealth, Athena military victories and warrior fame, while Aphrodite, the goddess of love, promised him Helen, the queen of Sparta, Zeus’ daughter and the most beautiful woman. Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite, who made Helen fall in love with him. Because Zeus’ daughter ran away to her lover’s city, her husband, King Menelaos, along with his brother, Mycenaean King Agamemnon, launched a war against the city of Troy, which lasted for no less than ten years.
If the golden apples grew in Dacia, it would be natural to find them in Romanian folklore as well. Indeed, they exist here abundantly. In Romanian mythology, Saint Wednesday, Saint Friday and Saint Sunday (just like the three Hesperides nymphs of the Greeks) are three miraculous old women who take care of wild animals and help travelers in need. They possess a treasure trove of enchanted objects, which they give away on special occasions, including brushes that turn into forests, a golden fork that spins by itself and, of course, golden apples. In Romanian culture, apples are considered the fruit of Saint Elijah, and on 20th July, his feast day, women call children under an apple tree, shaking it to give away fallen fruits. On this day, the apples are taken to church to be blessed, as it is believed that only then will they become golden apples in the afterlife. Golden apples are also found in carols inherited from the Dacians. For example:
„My flowers have grown,
They gave birth for me
To a golden apple tree branch,
Remarkable and beautiful.„
or „The flowers I picked last night
Will bear fruit in all souls,
Golden apples, the apples dreamed of
By carolers of all ages,
White and ever white, true flowers.„
A New Year’s greeting from Botosani (a city in Moldavia region) says:
„We caroled many boyars;
And we caroled King Herod.
He was very pleased.
He ran outside,
Threw twelve golden apples
And we happily returned.„
In a carol from the Ialomita county (in Wallachia region), the golden apple tree bears fruit every summer, but its fruit does not ripen, as it is eaten by a spirit:
„The little wind from the Black Sea,
The apple is a little golden apple,
At the white monasteries,
It planted a golden branch,
A golden apple tree branch;
It made apples every summer;
In vain it makes them, they do not ripen,
Because of the spirit of the apple.„
This spirit could be the dulf, the only mythological marine entity of the Romanians, a fish that emerges from the sea and turn into a human to try to steal golden apples from a tree grown on an island. The origin of this name is unknown, but it could be a fusion of the words „delfin” („dolphin”) and „duh” („spirit”). A connection between a sea creature and golden apples is also found in Greek mythology, in the story of the 12 labors of Hercules, where the apples were guarded by the dragon Ladon (unlike the Dacian-Romanian dulf, which tries to steal them). Undoubtedly, Ladon is a copy of Lotan from Ugaritic myths, the seven-headed sea dragon, defeated by the storm god Baal Hadad. The Greeks transformed Lotan into Ladon by changing the letter „t” to „d” and reversing the letters „a” and „o„.
The golden apples, encountered so often in Romanian folklore, could not miss from fairy tales. The most well-known is the one collected by Petre Ispirescu, Praslea the Brave and the Golden Apples. It is said that in a long-gone time, a powerful emperor had a tree in his garden that once a year produced golden apples. However, the emperor didn’t get to enjoy the fruits because every time someone would steal them before they ripened. His two older sons tried to catch the thief, but failed. The youngest son, Praslea („Little Child” or the youngest boy in a family), tried his luck as well. He not only managed to save the coveted apples, but also shot the thief who was hiding in the darkness. The next day, he and his older brothers set out to find the robber. Following the trail of blood on the ground, they reached the edge of a ravine. Praslea descended on a rope and arrived in the Other Realm. There he met three princesses who had been kidnapped from their father’s house by three zmei, the same ones who had stolen the golden apples (similar to the dulf of Romanian folklore). Praslea killed the zmei (just like Hercules killed Ladon) and then returned with the princesses to his brothers who were waiting at the edge of the ravine. Before leaving, he took a whip from each of the zmei’s palaces, and when he snapped it in each corner of the palace, an apple would appear. Snapping the whip, Praslea made a bronze apple for the eldest girl and gave her a note saying that she would be the wife of his older brother. For the middle girl, promised to his middle brother, Praslea made a silver apple. And for the youngest girl, whom he wanted for himself, the boy made a golden apple. However, he didn’t give the girl the apple, but kept it for himself. His brothers lifted the three princesses with the help of the ropes that Praslea had used to descend, and they set a trap for him. While they were pulling him up, they let go of the ropes from a great height. Suspecting that his brothers were planning something wicked, the youngest tied a stone to the ropes in advance and placed his hat on it. Thinking that Praslea was dead, his two brothers went home with the princesses. They married the older girls, but the youngest stubbornly refused to choose a husband. With the help of a giant eagle, whose babies he saved from a dragon, Praslea left the Other Realm and returned to the human world. When he arrived in his city, dressed in peasant clothes to avoid being recognized (just like Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey), the boy found out that his fiancée was being forced to marry someone else. However, she, like Penelope in Odysseus’ story, had subjected her suitors to an impossible task: whoever wanted her hand had to bring her a golden spinning wheel that could spin by itself. Praslea became an apprentice to a silversmith and pulled the golden wheel from the golden apple he had made in the palace of one of the zmei. Seeing the golden wheel spinning by itself, brought by the silversmith, the princess realized that Praslea had survived. Therefore, to make sure, she also asked for a hen with golden chicks. Praslea resorted to the same trick, pulling the hen and chicks out of the golden apple. Seeing the golden birds pecking at golden corn, the princess wished to meet the true craftsman because, she said, „whoever made these two things must also have the zmeu’s golden apple„. Brought before the royal court, Praslea revealed his apple, and the girl and the emperor recognized him. For his brothers who tried to kill him, Praslea called for divine punishment: all three drew an arrow upwards, leaving it up to God to decide their fate. The youngest’s arrow fell at a distance, while his brothers’ arrows lodged in their skulls, killing them on the spot. Praslea married the princess and he became emperor after his father’s death „and ruled peacefully until today, if they are still alive„, as Ispirescu concluded.
Another golden apples story, also collected by Petre Ispirescu, is The Enchanted Wolf and Prince Charming. Just like the tale of Praslea, it is also about an emperor who had a tree in his garden that bore golden apples, which he never got to taste because of a thief. His two older sons also failed in their attempt to catch the thief, who was only injured by the youngest prince, named Prince Charming. Following the same scenario, the youngest left in search of the thief who, as he learned from a giant wolf with a copper forehead, was the emperor of the birds. That bird was in the neighboring kingdom, locked in a golden cage, from where he ordered his fastest subjects to bring him the Charming’s father’s golden apples. Trying to steal the cage with the bird, the prince was caught in the act and brought before the ruler of that land. Being subject to the death penalty for theft, the hero agreed to go on a mission, just like Hercules in the story of the twelve labors. To avoid punishment and get the bird from the golden cage, the prince had to bring the emperor the neighboring emperor’s wild mare. Trying to steal the mare, Charming was caught red-handed again. To absolve him of punishment, the emperor sent him on a mission: to bring him the Fairy Queen. Helped by the enchanted wolf with a bronze forehead, the young prince kidnapped the Fairy Queen but, falling in love with her, he decided to keep her for himself. The wolf took on the appearance of the girl and the hero brought him to the third emperor, receiving the mare in exchange. After Prince Charming left with the Fairy Queen and the mare, the wolf resumed its true appearance and went after them. The story repeated at the court of the second emperor, with the young prince receiving the bird and the golden cage in exchange for the wolf turned into a mare. Thus, the boy returned home with the mare, the emperor of the birds and the beautiful fairy. In his father’s kingdom he built a beautiful stable for the mare, he placed the cage with the bird in the garden, then married the Fairy Queen. „And they lived happily ever after, for Prince Charming had nothing more to desire„, Petre Ispirescu concludes, as in the previous fairy tale.
Similar stories exist not only in Europe, but also in Asia, up to India and China, in North Africa, in South America, in Mexico and among Native Americans. The scenario is always the same, as in Praslea’s story: rare fruits are stolen from a garden, the owner’s sons take turns guarding it, but only the youngest succeeds in injuring the thief, whom he chases to the Other Realm. There he kills him, saves three princess sisters, his brothers try to kill him and after he returns to the world of humans, he is recognized and his brothers are punished. This not only proves that they all have a common source, but also that the story of Prince Charming, which has the same beginning and ending, is a later adaptation of Praslea’s story. From the two folk tales collected by Petre Ispirescu, it appears that the action takes place in Dacia. The presence of the wolf in Prince Charming’s story strengthens this idea, as the wolf is the sacred animal of the Dacians. The hero only traveled a few days until he reached the Other Realm, which means that his father’s kingdom was near Transylvania. Although that world seems underground, given that he had to descend using ropes, appearances deceive once again. To reach Transylvania, Praslea / Prince Charming had to cross the Carpathian Mountains; therefore, his descent using ropes could have taken place from a mountain, not in an underground world. The zmei, those beings that are half snake and half human, appear here as thieves of the golden apples, just like the dulf from the Daco-Romanian folklore, unlike the Ladon dragon from Greek mythology, which guarded them. However, the difference exists only in appearance. From Praslea’s story it can be inferred that the zmei took back the apples from the people who had acquired them through unknown methods, in order to bring them back to their own world, Transylvania. This make them guardians of the golden apples (like Ladon), which were supposed to remain in their world, not in the world of humans. A similar idea is found in Greek mythology where, after receiving the golden apples from Hercules, King Eurystheus gave them to the goddess Athena to take them back to the garden of the Hesperides, because they could not be in the possession of mortals. The zmei, as guardians of the Garden of the Gods, are also encountered in the Epic of Gilgamesh, where „half-human, half-dragon creatures, the Scorpions, stood guard at the mountain gates; their faces were terrifying, their gaze killed men„. If in Prince Charming’s story the zmei were replaced with birds, it is said that Alexander the Great encountered in the Garden of the Gods „birds with human faces” when he tried to follow in Gilgamesh’s footsteps, crossing the Carpathians through a tunnel. The first being that Praslea encountered in the Other Realm was one of the three princesses abducted by the zmei, just as Gilgamesh met the goddess Siduri shortly after he stepped into the Garden of the Gods. In The Enchanted Wolf and Prince Charming, the hero is given several missions similar to the labors of Hercules. The theft of the wild mare recalls the eighth labor of Hercules, the capture of the man-eating mares of Diomedes, king of Thrace. The mare was white and „had a golden bridle adorned with precious stones, shining like the Sun„, very similar to the enchanted girdle of the Amazon queen, Hippolyta, which Hercules stole to complete his ninth mission. Helped by the enchanted wolf (which seems to be a copy of dog Cerberus, which the demigod captured in his twelfth mission), Prince Charming kidnaps the Fairy Queen, just as Hercules did with the beautiful princess Iole of Oechalia. Even the birds that stole the golden apples bring to mind the Stymphalian birds, which the demigod killed in his sixth labor. Taking into account all these similarities, we can assume that these fairy tales, as well as the similar ones from the rest of the world, were inspired by the story of the demigod Hercules / Gilgamesh. It should also be noted that the hen with golden chicks from Praslea the Brave and the Golden Apples is a real part of the Pietroasa treasure, which confirms the kernel of truth behind the popular fairy tale.
The golden apples also appear in two fairy tales from the 19th century, by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The two folklorists, philologists, linguists and doctors of law discovered the apples in ancient folklore and hid them behind two fairy tales, The Golden Bird and The Golden Apple Tree. The first one is an obvious copy of the Daco-Romanian fairy tale The Enchanted Wolf and Prince Charming. The Grimm brothers told the story of a king who had a tree with golden apples in his garden in a distant land. Because someone stole an apple every night, the king’s gardener and his two eldest sons unsuccessfully tried to keep watch. When it was the gardener’s youngest son’s turn, he managed to shoot the thief, who dropped a golden feather. The king asked the gardener to catch the thief and he sent his sons one by one to fulfill the mission. They all met a fox, who advised them to spend the night in an ugly and sad inn in the first village they would come across. The older brothers chased the fox and ignored his advice, choosing to stay in a beautiful inn. Because of the pleasures offered by that place, they forgot their mission. Unlike his brothers, the youngest gardener’s son chose to listen to the enchanted fox, who revealed to him that in a black castle he would find a golden bird locked in a wooden cage, next to which there was a golden cage. The fox advised him to take the bird in the wooden cage because, if he tried to exchange it for the golden one, he would regret it. However, the boy could not resist the temptation and tried to leave with the golden cage as well, at which point the bird started to scream, alerting the guards. The gardener’s son was captured and taken before the master of the castle, who threatened him by death if he did not bring him a horse that could run like the wind. Because he did not know where to turn, the boy was once again helped by the enchanted fox, who told him that in a white castle he would find the sought-after horse. „The horse will have two saddles, one new and one old, but choose the old one and you will see„, the fox advised him. Once again, the gardener’s son falls into temptation, choosing the new saddle. Like the golden bird, the horse made noise, alerting the guards, and the boy was captured again. The ruler of this palace also sent him on a mission, so as not to be decapitated: to bring him the king’s daughter. The fox helped him again, suggesting that at midnight, when the princess takes a bath, he should kiss her hand and she will follow him as long as she doesn’t have the chance to say goodbye to her parents. This time the boy followed the instructions exactly and thus was able to accomplish his mission. In order to keep both the princess, the horse and the bird, the fox advised him further: „When you arrive in front of the master of the white palace, ask for the horse in exchange for the princess, and when you get on the horse, lift the princess onto the saddle and run away, without anyone being able to catch you. When we get to the black castle, you enter alone with the horse and say that you want to examine the bird, to make sure it’s the real one. When you have it in your hands, run away and join us„. The gardener’s son did as he was told, then returned to the king’s palace who, because he had no sons, chose him as the heir to the throne. After the old king’s death, the gardener’s youngest son took the throne and lived happily ever after with his princess, who became his wife.
If this fairy tale is nothing but a copy of The Enchanted Wolf and Prince Charming, the second of the Grimm Brothers’ tales, The Golden Bird, seems to be different. It recalls that a woman had three daughters; „The eldest was called One-Eye, because she had only one eye, and that in the middle of her forehead; the second was called Two-Eyes, because she had two eyes like other folks; and the youngest was called Three-Eyes, because she had three eyes, one in the middle of her forehead„. Because Two-Eyes looked identical to humans, her mother and sisters couldn’t stand her and never missed an opportunity to make her life a living hell. One day, while she was out with the goat to graze, she began to cry because her sisters had put very little food in her bag. A fairy saw her and taught her to say to the goat when she was hungry: „Goat, bleat, Table, set yourself!„. Every time she uttered these words, a table appeared filled with the most exquisite dishes. Finally, when her secret was revealed, her mother stabbed the goat. The fairy appeared again to Two-Eyes and taught her to bury the goat’s entrails in front of the door. The next day, a magnificent tree with silver leaves and golden apples grew in that spot. The mother and her two daughters tried in vain to reach the golden fruit; every time the branches lifted up and they remained empty-handed. Two-Eyes also tried her luck and, to everyone’s surprise, the branches did not retreat but even lowered down, making it easier for the girl to pick the apples. Of course, her mother took the coveted fruits. One day, as a young man approached their house, Mother’s two favorite daughters hid Two-Eyes in a barrel, alongside the golden apples. Enchanted by the beauty of the tree, that „strong young man, very handsome” told the two sisters that he would fulfill any wish of the owner of the tree in exchange for a twig. In vain did the girls try to break off a twig; the story repeated and every time the tree lifted its branches to prevent them from reaching it. Two-Eyes released some golden apples from the barrel, which fell at the feet of the young man. Because he wanted to know where those unseen fruits came from, the two sisters had to bring Two-Eyes out. And the young man fell in love with her instantly. Because the girl managed to give him a twig from the enchanted tree, he fulfilled her greatest wish: he took her with him, thus saving her from the torments caused by her mother and sisters. Who didn’t even get a taste of the tree; the next day the tree was no longer in front of their door, but in front of Two-Eyes’ house. After many years, the two sisters came to beg at the gate of the castle where Two-Eyes and her husband lived. Recognizing them, she welcomed them with open arms, forgetting the unpleasantness of the past. „And the two sisters, seeing so much kindness from her, bitterly regretted the evil they had done in their youth„. A bit too late…
We don’t know the setting of this fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, but we can guess it. The tree with golden apples did not grow in the humans’ world, but in a realm populated by fantastic creatures, such as the mother and the two sisters of the heroine. One of them had one eye in the forehead, like the Cyclops, while the other had three eyes, like god Shiva from Indian folklore or the monstrous bird Zu from Mesopotamia. Two-Eyes was regarded by her family as a freak, since her physical appearance was identical to that of humans. Therefore, we can conclude that the action took place in a world of creatures, such as the Other Realm from the myths of many peoples, that is Dacian Transylvania. The three sisters seem to be the Hesperides nymphs from Greek mythology, the daughters of Titan Atlas who guarded the golden apples, or Saint Wednesday, Saint Friday and Saint Sunday from Romanian folklore. In many fairy tales and legends from around the world, a hero (such as Praslea / Prince Charming / Hercules / Gilgamesh) arrived in Transylvania to search for the golden apples, and such a hero appears in this story as well. In all versions of the fairy tale, the young man meets a beautiful girl (whether a princess, a goddess or the snake-woman Echidna) whom he falls in love with and takes with him into the world of humans. The same thing happens here, where that „strong young man, very handsome” (a description reminiscent of Prince Charming) falls in love with Two-eyes and takes her with him to his palace. As all those stories describe the journey of Hercules in search of the golden apples, this fairy tale also seems to refer to the same incident, told from a different angle by the Grimm brothers.
The golden apples are also found in Norse mythology, with a story similar to that of Dacian, Greek and Germanic folklore. In Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, goddess Idunn was the guardian of the golden apples that granted eternal youth. The gods of Asgard often came to the goddess Idunn’s garden to eat those apples, remaining forever young. One day, the giant Thjazi (i.e. one of the Pelasgians, the ancestors of the Dacians, like Hercules) forced god Loki to lure Idunn into a forest. There the giant, turned into a giant eagle, abducted her and took her to his palace. The absence of the goddess caused the other gods of Asgard to age and they eventually realized that Loki was to blame for her disappearance. The culprit promised to retrieve her and kept his word. Turned into a falcon, he found Idunn alone in Thjazi’s house, turned her into a nut and brought her back to Asgard, the world of the gods. Realizing that the goddess had disappeared, the giant turned back into an eagle and, angry, pursued Loki (the two characters turned into birds remind us of the golden bird in the fairy tales The Golden Bird and The Enchanted Wolf and Prince Charming). To stop the giant, the gods built a fire that burned his feathers, and then they killed the fallen giant. This ending of the story is reminiscent of the pyre on which Hercules met his end in Greek mythology. The goddess’ abduction from the garden of the golden apples, located on the land of the gods, is strikingly similar to the love story between the fairy tales’ hero and the beautiful girl he takes with him into the humans’ world. A satisfactory interpretation of her name has not been given until this day. It is possible that by reversing the first letters, Idunn may come from Diunn, a name derived from Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting, called Artemis by the Greeks (the one who was said to spend much time in the land of the Hyperboreans / Pelasgians, whose hind was captured by Hercules in the same territory), or Dana / Danu for the Celts (who gave the Latin name of the Danube River, Danubius). Idunn / Diunn or Diana / Dana, the goddess responsible for giant Thjazi death, seems to have the same root as Deianeira, who caused Hercules’ death in the same way, or as Delilah from the Old Testament, who led to the capture and killing of Samson. And again it seems that we have the same Dacian story encountered in all corners of the world.
Why were these golden apples that grew in Transylvania so desired? Norse mythology claims that they offered eternal youth. The legends of the Egyptians and other ancient peoples considered the apple tree to be the sacred tree or the celestial tree of life. From those times the apple is a symbol of the plant world, necessary for a healthy life, hence the saying: „An apple a day keeps the doctor away„. In the biblical Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, besides the Tree of Knowledge there was also the Tree of Life. Although it is not mentioned that it was an apple tree, the Tree of Life in the Garden of the Gods can be the golden apple tree from the universal folklore, which offered eternal life. In the Bible, the supreme god drove humans out of the Garden of Eden so that they would not taste the fruit of the Tree of Life. In myths from all over the world, golden apples were exclusively reserved for the gods. „So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life„, the Bible states, while the myths of other peoples confirm it, claiming that the territory where the golden apples were located was inhabited only by supernatural beings (gods, nymphs, zmei, dragons, fairies) who guarded the respective fruits (such as the Hesperides, the dragon Ladon or the zmei, for example). Golden apples are clearly mentioned in the Old Testament, in one of Solomon’s Proverbs: „A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (25:11).
If they truly exist, could the golden apples of Dacia give immortality? Theoretically, it is possible. In Transylvania, the Spring of Life flows, which has the capacity to offer eternal life and has been sought over time by people such as Gilgamesh or Alexander the Great. A tree grown on the banks of this spring, with its roots soaked in the Water of Life, could take on the properties of the water. Although this may seem like something out of a fantasy story, it seems that some people have taken the legend of the golden apples seriously. One of them is the British king.
In 1759, Walther Baltazar, historian of voivode Michael the Brave, wrote about the villages in Transylvania that „are wealthy villages due to the abundance of fruits, which are as sweet and plentiful as those in Greater Poland and Germany„. French officer Dupont, from Sobieski’s army, described the devastation of Moldavia by the Turks in 1688, emphasizing that „the only places where one can recognize the existence of villages and towns are by the multitude of fruit-bearing trees around the houses„. In that same period, Moldavian voivode Dimitrie Cantemir published valuable information about the spread of trees and the superior quality of fruits in Transylvania and Moldavia, emphasizing the need to consume apples for a healthy life. In the former territory of Dacia, especially in Transylvania, there are abundant orchards of noble apples, considered to be the best native variety. The fruit is large, yellow-orange in color, with a sweet-sour taste and a discreet aroma, true golden apples, as in legends. King Charles III of the United Kingdom, who has been visiting Romania regularly for many years, discovered in Malancrav village (in Sibiu county), hidden among the hills, an orchard of golden apples and a delicious apple juice factory. He immediately decided to purchase a vacation residence in that place. Moreover, through the foundation he sponsors, the Mihai Eminescu Trust, Charles also acquired the factory. The director of the foundation, Caroline Fernolend, acknowledged in an interview that the Mihai Eminescu Trust pays a very high rent for the orchard located on an area of 108 hectares, but also that it has similar projects underway in other villages in Sibiu county, such as Biertan, Richis, Mosna and Alma Vii. The inevitable question arises: why is King Charles interested in Transylvanian apples? Is he somehow in search of the famous golden apples? Skeptics might find this hypothesis amusing, without a doubt. However, this possibility is not as fanciful as it may seem. In 2013, the employees of the Mihai Eminescu Trust have conducted a census of apple, pear and plum trees in villages located in three counties of Transylvania: Sibiu, Brasov and Mures. After finding where the traditional fruit trees are located, the foundation’s employees planted those old varieties in King Charles’ orchards. This project had a budget of a quarter million Swiss francs, money provided by several Swiss banks apparently for the conservation of traditional fruit tree varieties. „The goal of the project is not only conservation, but also the identification of traditional varieties of apple, pear and plum. We want to contribute to their in situ conservation by creating a nursery in the orchard that Mihai Eminescu Trust Foundation has in Malancrav. Afterwards, we want to plant them in our own orchard, as well as in other orchards„, said to the press Michaela Turk, a representative of the Mihai Eminescu Trust Foundation. Regarding the orchards in the Sibiu villages of Fantanele and Sibiel, Dumitru Ungureanu (president of TraiVerde Federation, former general director of Sibiu Regional Environmental Protection Agency) said: „The problem is that in that area there are apple and pear trees that are a hundred years old, so they are the oldest varieties. We have a very valuable genetic value there„. According to him, „diseases move from warm areas to cold ones„, suggesting that apples from traditional trees are more resistant to climate change, naturally. Of course, rational people cannot believe that King Charles is so interested in tree diseases that he would start such a large-scale project. The same goes for Swiss banks, which are willing to invest over 200,000 euros just to preserve some old trees in Transylvania. It is said that the British royal family is at the head of European Freemasonry (a group that considers itself the holder of the secrets of the gods) and Switzerland is where this organization hides its finances, far from prying eyes. If this is true, it means that Freemasonry is interested in the old apple trees in Transylvania, especially those of the royal variety (the so-called „golden apples„), which can only raise questions. What could Charles be looking for if not the famous golden apples? Looking at the map of Romania it can be noticed that the counties where the king’s foundation conducted the trees census are located in the exact center of Romania (which Pope John Paul II called „The Garden of the Mother of God„), implicitly in the middle of Transylvania, a region considered by the ancients as the Garden of the Gods or the Otherworld. According to ancient myths, in the middle of the „garden” is the tree with the golden apples, which gives eternal life, as the Old Testament also states: „And out of the ground made Yahweh Elohim to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).
Who would have thought that King Charles would follow in the footsteps of the demigod Hercules? And why is he looking for the golden apples from myths? Of course, to obtain longevity if not immortality. It seems that the aim is to prepare an elixir from the golden apples, as suggested by the 2006 Dictionary of Freemasonry by French historian Daniel Ligou: „Apprentices and Journeymen are not allowed to cross the threshold of the tabernacle, Masters are not allowed to cross the Holy, only the ‘true Scottish Masons’ can enter the Holy of Holies where they learn the secret art of transmuting metals into gold and preparing the elixir of life„. It seems that the British royal family is part of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, which makes King Charles one of the „true Scottish Masons” who have learned the „secret art” of preparing the „elixir of life„. As a curiosity, the United Grand Lodge of England was established in 1716 in the Apple Tree tavern on Charles Street, one of its four founding Masonic lodges even being named The Apple-Tree, a name later changed to The Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland.
How could this elixir prepared from golden apples be used? It seems that scientists have already identified the gene of immortality in human DNA. After studying the freshwater hydra, which is immortal, German researchers realized that the secret of its immortality lies in the FoxO gene, which all animals and humans have. Interestingly, in Greek mythology, before reaching the golden apples, Hercules killed Hydra (an immortal creature whose heads regenerated), the guardian of the Underworld (Transylvania), the daughter of Typhon (who was imprisoned in the basement of the Apuseni Mountains) and Echidna (who lived in the land of the Arimaeans north of the Danube). The FoxO gene keeps stem cells active, which is why tissues are constantly renewing. Currently, German researchers are trying to establish the factors that influence the activity of the FoxO gene, in order to activate it in humans. Could this be the role of the elixir of life that the Freemasons are trying to prepare from Romanian golden apples? It is already known that apple cider vinegar prevents aging and skin degeneration processes. According to doctors, consuming 100 milliliters of apple cider vinegar daily has the effect of a general tonic, keeping old age at bay. Furthermore, by dabbing the skin with apple cider vinegar, the so-called „age spots” disappear. Therefore, an „elixir” of life made from legendary apples that activates the FoxO gene seems to solve the problem of eternal youth. At least in theory.
In an attempt to uncover the secret of immortality, scientists at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia have discovered a gene whose absence can regulate tissue regeneration in mammals, in the same way that salamanders regenerate their tails when they lose them (or like Hydra from the legend of Hercules, whose cut heads grew back). Researchers made this discovery by observing laboratory mice, whose amputated ears grew back completely in just a few days, leaving no traces or scars. These animals have something in common: the absence of the p21 gene, which causes cells to behave in a strange way, as if they were embryonic stem cells instead of adult cells. The discovery was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal and offers new perspectives for human healing. „Removing a gene would be a much more difficult process than introducing it„, say American researchers, who believe that extracting the gene from the human structure could create specimens that will continuously regenerate their organs. „We don’t know if it will be morally possible to create such humans. It will probably be a long debate, just like with cloning„, scientists from the Wistar Institute consider.
Scientists at the prestigious Harvard University did not sit idly by. On 28th November 2010, a team of researchers announced that they had successfully reversed the aging process in mammals by activating telomerase (an enzyme in the cell nucleus, composed of a protein and a ribonucleic acid chain). When activated, the hTERT gene, located on chromosome 5p15.33, produces an enzyme called telomerase, which allows cells to continue living and dividing endlessly. In 2009, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for the discovery of telomerase. Shortly after the Harvard researchers’ announcement, the product TA-65 appeared, which is said to activate telomerase, extending the life of cells indefinitely, according to the drug manufacturer T.A. Sciences. We don’t know if scientists have discovered the secret of immortality through this product, as we don’t know its true effects. However, we can guess that if they had, they would most likely not continue trying to activate the FoxO gene or eliminate the p21 gene. And King Charles would not be searching for golden apples in Transylvania to create the elixir of youth. As a curiosity, if Gilgamesh had to announce his divine nature before entering the Garden of the Gods and Hercules was a Pelasgian born in the same land, King Charles declared himself in 2011 as the descendant of the great ruler Vlad the Impaler, thus suggesting that he has Daco-Pelasgian blood. Perhaps thinking that only direct descendants of the gods are allowed to search for immortality in the land of ancient Dacia, just as in the distant past.
We don’t know if the king will discover the legendary apples or if they will have the desired effect. The ancient Greeks believed that Hercules, even though he had laid his hands on the fruits, still met his end. Only after his death was he taken to Mount Olympus, where he lived eternally among the gods. Although ancient traditions claim that he lived before the Deluge, it seems that he returned to Earth several times. Researchers have determined that he lived in Greece between 1264 and 1226 BC. According to Herodotus, he lived around 1300 BC. In Egypt we encounter him under the name Arkhles around 1600 BC. The same is true of Gilgamesh: while The Dead Sea Scrolls consider him one of the giants before the Deluge, Sumerian myths claim that he was the fifth king of the first post-diluvian dynasty of Uruk, and certain inscriptions have placed his reign in the 28th century BC. For Buddhists, Hercules came to Earth also in the 6th century BC as Vajrapani, Buddha’s protector. Roman emperors Commodus and Maximian declared themselves to be the reincarnations of Hercules, but we cannot consider these claims to be true, as they are more likely the result of the two emperors’ arrogance. How Hercules died remains a mystery, but he is said to have lived eternally on Mount Olympus among the gods, where he married goddess Hebe. We can assume that his spirit became immortal, but it seems unlikely that Hercules would have lived as a spirit in a material place, alongside material beings, even marrying one of them. Therefore, we can put forward two hypotheses. The first is that, unable to die on the pyre due to his immortality conferred by the golden apples, Hercules was taken by his father to Mount Olympus, alongside the other immortals. For those present at the event, the demigod was consumed by flames, then resurrected by Zeus and abducted like Eliyahu (Elijah) in the Old Testament. The second, more logical hypothesis concerns reincarnation, a process that all beings in this world resort to, including the gods (who, unlike other spirits, are not caught in the cycle of reincarnations and can therefore choose the bodies in which to incarnate). Given that Mount Olympus in Greece was inhabited by gods only in the ancient Greeks’ imagination, it is possible that the demigod’s spirit was taken to the spiritual Olympus, one of the ethereal worlds inhabited by the Celestials. Once his material body had burned, Hercules was released from the prison of his body and became a spirit like the gods. Back in our world, he possessed other bodies, considering that his had been consumed by flames. Reincarnation can explain his presence on Earth in different places and periods of time, under different identities.
Who was he really? In Genesis 10:8, the Old Testament mentions Nimrod, „a mighty one in the earth” (or „a mighty warrior on the earth” according to the New International Version of the Bible), son of Cush and great-grandson of Noah. „He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before Yahweh” (Genesis 10:9), continues the Bible. The First Book of Chronicles also claims: „And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be mighty upon the earth” (1:10). According to Greek legends, the first great hero of the world was Hercules, famous primarily for his extraordinary strength. He is described as a hunter in both Daco-Romanian folklore and Greek mythology. Jewish wise men from the first century AD, such as Philo of Alexandria or Yochanan ben Zakai, interpreted the biblical passage „mighty hunter before Yahweh” as meaning „against Yahweh„, an idea later found in Pseudo-Philo and Symmachus. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also described Nimrod as a man who opposed Yahweh. Some rabbis even connected the name Nimrod with the word „rebel„. We know that Hercules fought in the second war of the gods with his father against the giants / Pelasgians led by Marduk / Yahweh. In Daco-Romanian folklore, one of the enemies of Iovan Iorgovan / Hercules is Marcoci, none other than Marduk. In some ancient traditions, Nimrod was worshiped as a god and so was Hercules. The book Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer from 833 AD describe an ancient Jewish tradition that Nimrod inherited Adam and Eve’s clothes from his father, which made him invincible. In Greek mythology, Hercules wore the Nemean lion’s skin, which also made him invincible. Other traditions say that during the war against Abraham, a mosquito entered Nimrod’s brain, driving him insane. In Greek mythology, Hercules went insane twice, the first time killing his children, and the second, his best friend. In Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, written in the 14th century, Nimrod is described as one of the giants imprisoned in the Circle of Treachery in Hell. And as we have seen, Hercules betrayed his Pelasgian people, considered by the entire ancient world as a people of giants. In conclusion, we can assume that the biblical Nimrod, the „mighty one in the earth„, is none other than Hercules.
Nimrod has been matched by numerous researchers with the first emperor in history, Sharru-kinu („True king” or „Legitimate king”) or Sargon the Great, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, who lived approximately between 2334 and 2279 BC. According to the Bible, „the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city” (Genesis 10:10-12). Sargon the Great is the one who built Babylon (according to Babylonian chronicles written between the 8th and 3rd centuries BC) and Agade / Akkad, and then conquered Mesopotamia, where he founded the Akkadian Empire. If Sargon is indeed the biblical Nimrod, we may be dealing with a new appearance of Hercules among mortals, that is a new reincarnation of him. In his autobiography, Emperor Sargon the Great claims that his mother was a priestess and his father was unknown. Some researchers have concluded that the statement about his father would best be translated as „unseen„, suggesting that it may refer to a deity. We recall that Hercules was the son of a mortal woman and Zeus, also known as Enlil by the Sumerians. Moreover, Sargon called himself „anointed priest of Anu” and „great ensi (ruler) of Enlil„. Furthermore, one of his sons was named Shu-Enlil, a name made from that of the god in both Egyptian and Sumerian. Akkadian clay tablets tell the story of how Emperor Sargon managed to reach the Upper Sea (Black Sea) three times, where he captured the land of Tilmun (Transylvania). In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero set out for „the Land of Dilmun, the Garden of the Sun„, to discover the secret of immortality. Also, ancient legends have shown us that Hercules made numerous trips to the Garden of the Gods in Dacia, the same Transylvania. In his autobiography, Sargon also stated that, before becoming the cupbearer of King Ur-Zababa of Kish, he had taken care of a garden where goddess Ishtar used to walk. As we have been told by the ancients, the Garden of the Gods was Transylvania. The Sumerian King List asserts that Sargon’s father was a gardener, which has often been interpreted literally, as a caretaker of a garden. However, it is possible that, in reality, the epithet „gardener” may designate a resident of the Garden of the Gods, which brings us back to the „unseen” father of the emperor, god Enlil. In the book As it Was from 1976, Cyril Henry Hoskins, self-proclaimed reincarnation of the Tibetan monk Lobsang T. Rampa, spoke about entities from a parallel reality who oversee the evolution of mankind and who are called „the Gardeners of Earth” – probably a reference to the same Edenic garden in Dacia. Also, in the fairy tale The Enchanted Wolf and Prince Charming by Petre Ispirescu, the hero (who is an alter ego of Hercules) is the son of a gardener. And like Hercules, Sargon was in conflict with god Marduk, Enlil’s enemy. The Chronicle of Early Kings states that the emperor built the city of Agade on soil brought from Babylon, Marduk’s city. For this deed, „the great lord Marduk became angry and destroyed the people with famine„. In an inscription from his palace in Khorsabad, Sargon confessed: „in the fury of my heart, I counted all the armies of the god Ashur, I looked like a lion in ambush and I advanced to attack these lands„. Also, in his autobiography he stated that „at the age of 55, all the territories revolted against me and besieged me in Agade, but the old lion still has teeth and claws„. The lion that he was compared to was one of Enlil’s symbols. Moreover, Hercules was depicted by the ancient Greeks wearing a lion’s skin.
Some Bible researchers, such as Professor Ronald Hendel of the University of California, have concluded that Nimrod is nothing but a distortion of Ninurta, the god of war in Mesopotamian religions, son of Enlil and Ninhursag. Originally named Ningirsu, Ninib or Ninip, Ninurta was part of a holy triad in Nippur, along with his parents. His consort was goddess Ugallu or Bau. He was the subject of an impressive number of hymns and incantations, where he was presented as a hero who saves the world from diseases and the influence of demons. Like Hercules, Ninurta accomplished many missions to defeat a series of monsters known as „the Slain Heroes„, such as the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, the Lord of Saman-ana, the Wild Bull, the Siren, the Seven-Headed Serpent, the Six-Headed Wild Ram or the Anzu Bird. These creatures resemble those defeated by Hercules during his travels: the Warrior Dragon – Lernaean Hydra, the Seven-Headed Serpent – Ladon (or Lotan in Ugaritic mythology), the Wild Bull – the Bull of Poseidon (or the Celestial Bull in the Epic of Gilgamesh), the Anzu Bird – the Stymphalian Birds. In Mesopotamia, Ninurta was depicted with the same weapons as Hercules: a bow, a curved sword (a Thracian weapon) and a mace called Sharur, which could speak and take the form of a winged lion. Ninurta’s mentor was his uncle, Enki. We know that Hercules was born and spent his youth in Dacia, the Enki’s family land, until he sided with his father, betraying his kin. Hercules’ last wife, Hebe, was the goddess of youth, whose mission was to serve the gods on Mount Olympus with ambrosia and nectar, the two elements that granted eternal life. Among the epithets of Ninurta’s consort, Nintinugga / Bau / Baba / Gula, there was „Nmdindug” („Lady who restores life”), she being the healing goddess who, after the Deluge, restored „the breath of life” to mankind. Ninurta’s name translates as „Lord of the Plow”, which brings to mind the Novac’s Furrow, which crosses Dacia from west to east. As we have seen, Hercules’ Daco-Romanian name, Iorgovan, comes from the Greek „georgos„, meaning „farmer”. An often overlooked curiosity by researchers is the first part of Ninurta’s name. In reality, „nin” is feminine, meaning „Lady”, a strange epithet for a god. The explanation could be found in the myths of the Greeks, who claimed that Hercules was for a year the slave of Princess Omphale of Lydia, who forced him to wear only women’s clothing and engage only in feminine pursuits. Perhaps this experience made him attracted to men, as the Greeks claimed. Or perhaps Ninurta’s first incarnation on Earth was in the body of a woman, later choosing only male personalities. Considering that their father was Enlil / Zeus, we can assume that Ninurta and Hercules are one and the same character. Therefore, we can advance the possibility that Ninurta, Enlil’s first son and heir to his throne, was a full-fledged god (one of the Anunnaki) who incarnated at some point among the Pelasgians in Dacia, or was a Pelasgian demigod subsequently received among the gods. The first version is probably correct, taking into account the Mesopotamian myths that consider him the son of goddess Ninhursag, but also the fact that his mother in Greek myths, the mortal Alcmene, was only the personification of Dacia, suggesting the hero’s origin. We only know for sure that Ninurta / Hercules helped his father in the endless battle against Enki and Marduk’s Watchers, playing a particularly important role in shaping the history of Earth.