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As a child I idolized Hercules who was the son of Zeus. I was Ivan Andric the son of immigrants from Croatia. I pictured Hercules as a baby in diapers and chomping on raw meat. His first pacifier was not his mother’s breasts but a rack of lamb. My first pacifier was my mother’s tiny little finger.

Hercules matured into a magnificent savior who threw a mean discus and drove a spirited chariot. As for wearing robes he opted for butt floss and leather sandals. He was quite the enigmatic hipster back in the day. I matured into an average student who couldn’t get my cat Fred to come to me. I was quite the geek who studied geology and space time theorem.

His battles were fought to win favor from the gods, which was his personal passion. As a young man he slobbered over assertive women and played with wild lions and jackasses. I treasured all these things about Hercules and I wanted to be him in this century. I first examined this Greek mythological hero on the big screen in a movie starring the celebrated bodybuilder Steve Reeves as the famed muscled, immortal Hercules.

In that movie Hercules performed twelve labors that were thought to be impossible by human standards. What were the gods thinking? He was a son of a god. Everything was possible, including winning the innocence of women and perhaps some men, and encouraging the young at heart like me who wanted to be a hero like him. He was wonderfully compassionate and unselfish and he won favors from everybody.

That was in the movie. Hercules was a myth justified by the Homeric epics that gave birth to the symbol of gods in Greek culture and literature. For many years I tried to suffocate my obsession with the mythical man. Like white water rapids, my fascination rushed over me leaving no choice but to move with it, to be like Hercules and embrace his passions.

The bevy of the twelve highest gods had human form and they were equipped with emotions that pushed their motives and actions in ambiguous directions. I wasted to be part of that mythological deity, to wear butt floss, leather sandals, to have affairs with goddesses and cry waterfalls of emotions after breaking emptied wineglasses and devouring carcasses of beef and wild boar.

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