ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Heracles and the Caucasian Eagle in Greek Mythology

Updated on September 20, 2015

The Caucasian Eagle, or Aetos Kaukasios, was one of the mythical beasts said to inhabit the world of the Ancient Greeks. The eagle was a popular bird in Greek mythology, indeed, it was one of the symbols of the Greek god Zeus, but the Caucasian Eagle was a special bird, both long lived and gigantic in size.

Ancient Sources and the Caucasian Eagle

Many writers in antiquity would write of the Caucasian Eagle, and references to the bird can be found in such work as Theogony (Hesiod), the Bibilotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus), Argonautica (Apollonius Rhodius), and Prometheus Bound (Aeschylus).

The general consensus amongst the ancient writers was that the Caucasian Eagle was one of the monstrous offspring of Typhon and Echidna; making the eagle sibling to the likes of the Lernaean Hydra, the Sphinx, the Chimera and Cerberus.

Occasionally, an alternate origin for the Caucasian Eagle is put forward, and the gigantic bird is described not in terms of flesh and bird, but is instead named as one of the automatons constructed by the metalworking god Hephaestus.

If the Caucasian Eagle is taken to be an offspring of Typhon and Echidna though, it is natural to link the monstrous offspring to one place, just as the Sphinx was linked to Thebes and the Hydra with Lerna, and as the name of the bird suggests, the eagle was linked with the Caucasus Mountains.

The giant eagle was being made use of by Zeus as part of the punishment of Prometheus.

Prometheus

Prometheus - Theodoor Rombouts (1597–1637) -PD-art-100
Prometheus - Theodoor Rombouts (1597–1637) -PD-art-100 | Source

Prometheus and the Caucasian Eagle

Prometheus was a second generation Titan who had over time angered Zeus to such an extent that the god decided to the immortal son of Iapetus.

Firstly, Prometheus had gone amongst the workshops and palaces of the gods to steal knowledge and skills of mankind; then the Titan had shown man, at Mecone, how to make sacrifices to the gods in such a way that man gained the best meat; and then lastly, Prometheus stole the secret of fire from the workshop of Hephaestus, when Zeus forbade man to have it.

The actions of Prometheus would see him regarded as the benefactor of man, but it also meant that Zeus would provide him with eternal punishment, similarly to how Prometheus’ brother Atlas was facing everlasting punishment.

The punishment of Prometheus saw the Titan bound by unbreakable chains crafted by Hephaestus, and the Titan was then chained to the unmovable mountains of the Caucasuses. Simply being bound though was not fitting punishment for the indiscretions of Prometheus, and so Zeus ordered the Caucasian Eagle to attack the Titan, and to peck out, and eat, Prometheus’ liver each day.

Prometheus though was immortal, and each night the wound left by the Caucasian Eagle would heal itself, and the liver would regenerate, ready for the eagle to repeat the attack the next day.

The daily punishment of Prometheus was said to have gone on for many years, and in the Fabulae (Hyginus), some 30,000 years were said to have passed, although the Roman writer is the only writer to put such a long time span on the punishment.

Certainly though, a good few years of punishment occurred, from before the Deluge through to the time of the Argonauts. During their adventures, the Argonauts were said to have seen the Caucasian Eagle fly overhead and also to have heard the screams of agony from Prometheus, when they stopped in the region.

The Caucasian Eagle

The Caucasian Eagle - CC-Zero
The Caucasian Eagle - CC-Zero | Source

Heracles and the Caucasian Eagle

The punishment of Prometheus and the life of the Caucasian Eagle would eventually end, and as was the case with most of the offspring of Echidna and Typhon, the demise of the Caucasian Eagle came at the hands of a Greek hero.

The Greek hero in this instance was Heracles, the demi-god son of Zeus. Heracles did not simply kill the Caucasian Eagle though, and instead sought permission from his father to both kill the bird and release Prometheus from his chains.

Heracles offered Zeus the immortality of the centaur Chiron in exchange (the centaur being wracked with pain at the time), and despite not requiring the immortality, Zeus accepted the exchange. Zeus of course had always favoured Heracles, and the supreme god saw that the freeing of Prometheus and the killing of the Caucasian Eagle would increase the standing of his son amongst man and also the gods.

With permission for his actions received from Zeus, Heracles would set out for the Caucasus Mountains, and there he waited for the gigantic eagle to fly overhead. When the bird was in range, the Greek hero would unleash a quiver full of arrows, bringing the eagle crashing to earth, dead. The combined strength of Heracles and Prometheus were then sufficient to break the chains that bound the Titan, freeing Prometheus from his punishment.

Prometheus and the Caucasian Eagle

Prometheus and the Caucasian Eagle - Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) - PD-art-100
Prometheus and the Caucasian Eagle - Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) - PD-art-100 | Source

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)