Every now and then the internet offers us peculiar news regarding peculiar people that I find worthy of sharing. Today I found out a creative way to celebrate people’s birthday, or else people themselves if it’s someone important or notorious who enjoy a bit image cult. Being in Rome I’m used to see Berlusconi & Friends’ propaganda here and there, but this one is far more tasteful and creative so it’s worth the comparison with Mighty Hercules.
I’m not a fan of Vladimir Putin (person of the year according to TIME magazine) himself but I am a big fan of Greek myths since I was about 9 years old, so if Putin is portrayed as a young, healthy and mighty leader like Hercules/Heracle, it’s worth paying attention. His new photo exhibition tribute for his birthday amusingly follows the famous Herculean tasks as he is convinced that the magical events that surrounded Heracles and other heroes can be translated and relayed into our days. Better, into his days.
So, what were Heracles 12 Labors?
- Slay the Nemean Lion.
- Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
- Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis.
- Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
- Clean the Augeanstables in a single day.
- Slay the Stymphalian Birds.
- Capture the Cretan Bull.
- Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
- Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
- Obtain the cattleof the monster Geryon.
- Steal the apples of the Hesperides (He had the help of Atlas to pick them after Hercules had slain Ladon).
- Capture and bring back Cerberus.
And what are Putin 12 labors according to the artist?
- Fight against terrorism (Nemean Lion). Just like Heracles fought the seemingly invulnerable Nemean lion, here’s his view of his fight against a stereotyped terrorism.
- Response to sanctions (Lernaean hydra), while Heracles cut and successfully burned the Hydra’s many heads, I’m not really sure how Putin can deal with the US’s severed ties (at Putin’s feet) and others, especially a fiery Japan that breaths a flame that reads ‘sanctions’.
- The Sochi Olympics (Ceryneian Hind), in the myth the story goes like this: on Mount Cerynea, hunters had long chased after a deer with golden horns and copper feet, but never caught it. Hercules then went on to capture it for a whole year without resting until he finally reached her on the verge of a river. Now, Sochi wasn’t just a wise PR move around the Olympics period but rather another domestic ploy. As noted, Sochi mattered to Putin because of his bad record over terrorism and domestic matters. He cares whether the world likes him or not, and he found a way. The Sochi games, a way for Putin to sell himself to the world as a triumph (like the capture of the golden feet animal), and also to Russians feeling weird about another 10 years of his presidency.
- Liquidation of the oligarchs (Erymanthian Boar), the Arcadia, once a peaceful place, had fallen in fear after a giant boar had destroyed all the crops. After a very long long chase through woods and mountains, Heracles manages to find the animal and bring it back to the king of Tyrins. Guess the oligarchs went the same way.
- Stopping air strikes on Syria (Stymphalian Birds), please do ask for the Dictator permission before attacking his territory. I wish I had this image.
- Annexing Crimea (Cretan Bull). Of all the tasks he was assigned, this is the only time Heracles really didn’t need to kill anyone. This time our hero only had to capture alive a white bull that emerged from the sea in Crete as a gift from Poseidon and bring it back in a nice way to Tyrins. The annexation of Crimea didn’t quite follow the same fashion.
- Contract for French Mistral warships (Mares of Diomedes), to remind us of the accusation against the US after attempting blackmail France into sell warships to Russia with a 8 plus billion fine against giant BNP Paribas.
- South Stream gas pipeline (Belt of Hippolyta). Just like Hercules stripped off Hippolyta of her super mighty belt that made her invincible, here below is Putin planning for a gas pipeline that would reach Europe through the Black Sea, avoiding the traditional route of Ukraine.
- Gas contract with China (Cattle of Geryon). Just like Heracles looked West to the so called Pyllars of Hercules to bring back home a bunch of beautiful red cattle, Putin looked East to China as they signed a 400 billion gas deal, securing a major source of clean fuel and opening up a new market for Moscow after losing European customers over the Ukraine crisis.
- Support for the Minsk agreement for a cease-fire in Ukraine (Apples of the Hesperides).
- Conflict with the U.S. (Cerberus), I think the image is clear enough.