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The Myth

It is well known that the first feat of Hercules assigned to him by Eurystheus was to bring the skin of Nemea’s Lion. According to the myth, the lion was brought to life by the Moon, in order to punish the people of Nemea for not offering sacrifices to her. So, Moon threw the lion down onto the earth on the top of Mountain Triton, near the village of Nemea. On his way to Nemea, Hercules reached the Kleones village, where he stayed with Molarhos. Later, he went to Nemea and found the lion which was invulnerable to Hercules arrow and sword, so Hercules went after the lion with his club. The lion escaped and hid in a cave which had two entrances. Hercules blocked the one and attacked the beast by the second one. Hercules managed to choke the lion with his bare hands. From then on Hercules wore the beast’s skin as armor and its head as a helmet.

Demystification

The fields of ancient Nemea are in a narrow valley between three mountains, the Trikanaro, the Apesa and the Trito. The river of Nemea looks like a snake winding through the narrow roads of the Dervenakia village. Two thieves there, had a hut, where they invited travellers to spend the night. The thieves treated the guests to the sweet wine of the area1. As soon as the guests got drunk they robbed them, ripped their clothes or killed them, blaming the lion of Nemea. On his way to Nemea, Hercules stayed in that hut and drank wine without getting drunk. So when the thieves attacked him he killed them. Afterwards, he wore the skin of the Kithaeronas lion, which he had killed before.Eurystheus sent him to Nemea, and went back to the village of Tiryntha, having beaten Nemea’s lion, meaning Nemea’s red wine. This scenario of the myth is verbally passed down from generation to generation and it is the first time that it is written down. Going through Greek mythology I learned that Hercules had killed the Kithaerona before reaching Nemea lion. Indeed there are reports that Hercules wore the skin of the Kithaeronas lion and not the Nemea. In addition, in ancient manuscripts of Pausanias, it is mentioned that from Korinthia to Argolida there were endless vineyards. So the whole slope of Mountain Trito, including Dervenakia, where we collected our grapes, has been full of vineyards since ancient times. Also, Theophrastos describes a strong, aromatic wine, the Irakleotis3. We created this collectible ancient wine, aged2 two years, in the same way, from the same area and the same variety.

1. The wine originating from an “agiorgitiko” vineyard, which up until today is the main type of vineyard in Nemea.

2. Ancient Greeks were aware that time results beneficially to the quality of wine. Homer’s Iliad 467-475, Homer’s Odyssey, c. 391-92, 9th Olympionikos, 48, Archestrato 59, epitome 29b.“The best for pleasure and health” Athenaeus 7.3 Athenaeus Α58, Theofrastos «About Odor’s » 4 51

3. Variety of ancient pure Irakleotis wine: Athinaeos A58, Theophrastos, “About odours” 4 51