Pillars of Hercules at Ceuta

The Pillars of Hercules at Ceuta is a massive statue in the Spanish town of Ceuta, on the strait of Gibraltar.

Pillars of Hercules at Ceuta

The Pillars of Hercules at Ceuta is a statue in the Spanish town of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in the extreme north of the African continent, on the strait of Gibraltar.

In ancient times, the strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, was known as The Pillars of Hercules. The Pillars of Hercules, also known as the Gates of Hercules, are a legendary geological feature associated with the ancient Mediterranean world. According to Greek mythology and ancient historical accounts, these pillars were said to mark the limits of the known world and represent a significant maritime boundary.

The statue of the Pillars of Hercules

The statue depicting The Pillars of Hercules at Ceuta consists of two huge bronze pillars, held apart by Hercules. The statue is the work of Ceuta artist Ginés Serrán Pagán. The statue is 7 meters high and each pillar weighs 4 tons. They are currently the largest classical Greek mythology bronze sculptures in the world.

Mythological geography

The Pillars of Hercules is a phrase that has been used since ancient times to describe the two promontories that flank the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea – the Rock of Gibraltar on the European side and Jebel Musa in Morocco on the African side. However, there is another location that is also associated with the Pillars of Hercules – the city of Ceuta in North Africa.

Neptune and the pillars of Hercules
Hercules with the Pillars of Hercules by Hans Sebald Beham (German, 1500–1550)

According to ancient Greek mythology, Hercules was tasked with completing twelve labors as punishment for killing his family. One of his labors was to fetch the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides, which was located at the edge of the world. In order to reach the garden, he had to pass through the Strait of Gibraltar, which was guarded by two massive pillars which would later bear his name.

The pillars were said to have been created by the gods as a boundary between the known world and the unknown. They were also said to have been inscribed with the words “Non plus ultra” – Latin for “nothing further beyond” – to warn sailors not to venture beyond the pillars.

The Pillars of Hercules have been mentioned in various historical and literary works throughout antiquity. They were referenced by ancient Greek and Roman writers, including Herodotus, Plato, and Strabo, among others. The concept of the Pillars also influenced cartography, appearing on ancient maps and serving as a symbolic representation of the farthest boundaries of the known world.

The symbolism of the Pillars of Hercules endured beyond the ancient world and continues to resonate in contemporary culture. They are often depicted in art, literature, and heraldry, serving as a symbol of exploration, adventure, and the pursuit of knowledge. The Pillars have also been incorporated into the coat of arms of several countries and territories, such as Spain and modern Gibraltar.

Hercules was able to pass through the pillars and complete his task, thus proving his strength and earning his place among the gods. The story of the Pillars of Hercules became an important part of Greek mythology and was later adopted by the Romans.

In the centuries that followed, the Pillars of Hercules became a symbol of power and strength, and were often depicted in art and literature. They were also associated with the concept of the “end of the world” – the idea that there was nothing beyond the known world.

The Pillars of Hercules at Ceuta were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and were considered to be one of the two pillars that marked the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. The other pillar was located on the Rock of Gibraltar, which is located just across the strait from Ceuta.

  • References

    image: Willem Basse – Neptune and the Pillars of hercules (1634)

    image: “Hercules with the Pillars of Hercules” by Hans Sebald Beham, German, 1500–1550 is marked with CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/?ref=openverse.

    image: “https://www.twin-loc.fr Strait of Gibraltar view from plane – Détroit de Gilbraltar vu d’avion – Estrecho de Gibraltar visto desde un avión – Meerenge von Gibraltar aus einem Flugzeug gesehen – Stretto di Gibilterra visto da un aereo – Photo Ima” by www.twin-loc.fr is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse.

    image: “Estrecho, atardecer. Sunset, Strait of Gibraltar” by José Rambaud is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse.

    image: “Strait of Gibraltar, Mediterranean Sea” by Paul Quast is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/?ref=openverse.

     
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