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connection between Heracles and honeybees

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Dear Forum,

Maybe somebody can help me. I collect ancient Greek coins. On some of these coins I see on one side Heracles and on the other side a club, bow with arrow and a bee (see picture). The club and the bow with arrow, is not so difficult to understand why these attributes are on the backside of the coin.  But why is there a bee on these coins?? What is the relationship between Heracles and the bee? I read in a book where a picture of Heracles with a swarm of bees around his head, that the bees give Heracles higher spiritual reasons.  But this was a description of a medieval picture.  Is this possible that the ancient Greeks (about 200 BC) made already this connection?  Or is there another explanation why the bee is present on these coins?


Many thanks for your help, Piet


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This mythological story below may help answer your question:


Herakles now went for revenge to Pylos, because its king Neleus had refused to purify him after the murder of Iphitos, or because Neleus had been an ally of Augeias, or because Neleus had stolen the cattle of Geryones from him.  In the battle at Pylos Herakles killed Neleus and eleven of his twelve sons; only Nestor, the youngest, was spared, since he had been sent away from home to be raised by the Gerenians. 

One of Neleus’ sons, Periklymenos, had received from his grandfather Poseidon the ability to change himself into any kind of animal or tree; another source limits his choices to an eagle, ant, bee, or snake.  Herakles swatted him with his club when he was a bee or a fly, or shot him with an arrow when he took the shape of an eagle. 


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