Cercopes and Heracles: A Story of Deceit and Laughter

Cercopes and Heracles: A Story of Deceit and Laughter

In Greek mythology, the Cercopes were some mischievous forest creatures that lived in Thermopylae. They roamed the world at night and they do lots of bad deeds. They were two brothers, but their names vary depending on the source. Everyone knows them as liars, cheaters and accomplished cheats. However, their story gets famous after the Cercopes and Heracles run in.

At a certain point, they stumbled upon Heracles while he was sleeping. They managed to steal his weapons during the time he was a servant of Omphale. Heracles managed to catch them and he bound them at Epheus. He bound them up, slinging them over his shoulder, with their faces pointing downwards. The sight of Heracles’ dark-tanned posterior set both of them laughing. Once Heracles demanded to know why they were laughing, the two told him. Fortunately, Heracles was amused by the whole ordeal and decided to let them go.

Cercopes and Heracles: A Story of Deceit and LaughterCercopes and Heracles

This particular story appears on a merope at temple C at Selnius. In another myth, Zeus changes the Cercopes into monkeys. From this we have the genus Cercopithecus, a type of monkeys form the Minoas frescoes. Another version of the story says that Zeus turned one of them into stone for their deceit. The other brother got transformed into a piece of carved wood.

This just shows that Zeus is not as forgiving of morals like other people are. Maybe Heracle had mercy due to his half human nature. Who knows. Either way, the great father decided that some punishment was in order. Displeased with his son’s heroic deeds, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

All in all, every ancient myth about these two bad boys focuses on their crimes and punishments. Actually, there is a long tradition of laughter surrounding the two. This probably comes from the fact that the two were able to laugh even in a serious situation. Something which turned out to save both of them. Apparently, it’s never too late to laugh at something.


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