Bleeding Gods “Beloved by Artemis” with a small mythology lesson

Ancient history and metal music are probably the two things I love the most. Everytime a band releases a song or an album with some historical references to Antiquity, I can’t help it: I analyze the lyrics and see if the band got it right. In the case of mythology, since there were as many versions of a myth as there were Greek cities, I always want to know which ancient sources they used, if they used any. The Dutch band Bleeding Gods just released a song from their upcoming album Dodekathlon, which is a concept album on Herakles’ twelve labours.

As you can guess, the new song “Beloved by Artemis” is about one of Herakles’ twelve labours. This son of Zeus had to carry out these inhuman tasks to expiate his crime of slaying his own children. He fell into a moment of madness induced by Hera, his step-mother. Herakles had to wash out his sin with this set of tasks that he received from the king Eurystheos.

The labour related in “Beloved by Artemis” is catching the Ceryneian hind, a female red deer with golden horns and bronze hooves that could run faster than an arrow. It was also sacred to Artemis. On some versions (like Euripides, Her. 275.), Herakles killed the animal. In others (like Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, II.5.3), he shot it but didn’t kill it. In the song, he doesn’t want to mess up with the goddess so he doesn’t even want to hurt the animal (this is the moment you realize the bands has used the Wikipedia page).

Herakles chased the deer for a year. He actually caught it but met Artemis on his way back. Damn! As you can imagine, she wasn’t pleased to see someone capturing her favourite animal. Herakles begged the goddess to forgive him for this offense. She’s a nice girl, so she accepted. The animal escaped when Herakles tried to give it to the king. Happy ending!

So yeah, the band used the Wikipedia page to write their song. You can tell by the word choices: the song contains the exact same words as those used in the Wiki page. Also, the Wikipedia page doesn’t provide the correct version of the myth according to the listed reference, which is Apollodorus (in which “[…] Hercules shot it just as it was about to cross the stream, and catching it put it on his shoulders and hastened through Arcadia”). And the band repeated the mistake.

I always feel a bit disappointed when bands limit themselves to Wikipedia (especially when mistakes are involved); most of ancient sources and their academic translations are easily accessible on the Internet. On the other hand, when bands use ancient history and mythology in their music, the subject might interest few people, who might research the topic for themselves. And this, I absolutely love.

Valérie Blais

There can't be enough metal for Val. If she isn't exploring the obscure side of Bandcamp to find her new favourite band, she's headbanging at a local gig. Historian and journalist, FreqsTV's words are her favourite playground.

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