In a recent post I came across a different etymology for Herakles. Below are the multiple possibilities explored in the Etymologicum Magnum
“Herakles. The hero. His name does not come from “Hera’s fame [Hêras kléos] as many claim, but more likely means’ ignominy thanks to Hera’ [Hêras akleâ]. For there are so many ways he was disreputable because of Hera. When he was small, for example, Hera sent two snakes bound to kill him. He slaughtered those snakes. Or, perhaps, the name comes from lust and fame [eran kléos], since he was well known for that on the earth too. Or perhaps he was called that from the race of Neilos in the war of the giants, after he killed a nameless fire-breathing giant for Hera, he was named Herakles.
But others claim the name Herakles developed from service [êra], which often functions as a synonym for ‘help’, and fame [kléos]. For this he was called Alkeidês; but he was named Herakles for helping many people—which is what an oracle asserts when it says
Phoibos named you with the name Herakles—
For you will have eternal fame [kléos] for helping men [lit. bringing them êra].
Or the name comes from Hera, which is the goddess’ name and fame [kléos] resulted in Hero-kles like the names Hero-dotus, Hero-philos….[there follows a discussion of vowel reflexes and accent types]
῾Ηρακλῆς: ῾Ο ἥρως· οὐ παρὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς ῞Ηρας τὸ κλέος ἐσχηκέναι, ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ λέγουσιν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον παρὰ τὸ ἀπὸ τῆς ῞Ηρας ἀκλεᾶ εἶναι· ὅσον γὰρ κατὰ τὴν ῞Ηραν, ἄδοξος ἦν· μικροῦ γὰρ αὐτοῦ ὄντος, ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ἔπεμψεν ῞Ηρα δράκοντας ὀφείλοντας ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν· οὕσπερ αὐτὸς ἐφόνευσεν. ῍Η παρὰ τὴν ἔραν καὶ τὸ κλέος, ὁ ἐν τῇ γῇ ἔνδοξος. ῍Η ὅτι Νεῖλος ἐκ γενετῆς καλούμενος, ἐν τῷ κατὰ γιγάντων πολέμῳ, ἀνώνυμον ἕνα τῶν γιγάντων πυρίπνοον ἐπερχόμενον ῞Ηρᾳ φονεύσας, ῾Ηρακλῆς ὠνομάσθη.
῎Αλλοι δὲ, παρὰ τὴν ἦρα, τὴν σημαίνουσαν τὴν μετ’ ἐπικουρίας χάριν, καὶ τὸ κλέος, γέγονεν ῾Ηρακλῆς· πρὸ τούτου γὰρ ᾿Αλκείδης ἐκαλεῖτο· ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ πᾶσι βοηθεῖν ἐκλήθη ῾Ηρακλῆς, ὡς καὶ ὁ χρησμὸς δηλοῖ, λέγων,
῾Ηρακλέην δέ σε Φοῖβος ἐπώνυμον ἐξονομάζει·
ἦρα γὰρ ἀνθρώποισι φέρων κλέος ἄφθιτον ἕξεις.
῍Η ἀπὸ τοῦ ῞Ηρα, ὃ σημαίνει τὴν δαίμονα, καὶ τοῦ κλέος, γίνεται ῾Ηροκλῆς, ὡς ῾Ηρόδοτος, ῾Ηρόφιλος· …
One thought on “(Dis)repute from Hera? Etymologies for Herakles”
That’s one creepy man-baby.