MANY of us carry intolerable burdens on our fragile mortal shoulders. The priests of Antinous receive messages from people around the world ... from people who have loved ones who are terminally ill or otherwise incapacitated.
Some have horrendous health problems themselves. Not to mention financial problems. Emotional problems. Addiction problems.
It can all be too much to bear. Oftentimes you think you have been abandoned by the Great and Good God and that you must bear this burden all alone.
But the Great and Good God is there, standing right behind you, and he is making sure that you don't falter.
During their visit to Greece in the winter of 128-129 AD, Antinous and Hadrian saw this famous frieze at the Temple of Zeus in Olympia which illustrates the myth of the day when Herakles stepped in to relieve Atlas of the heavy burden of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The relief shows Atlas stretching out his hands to grasp the Apples of the Hesperides ... and Herakles struggles to hold the world ... which turns out to be a lot heavier than he had anticipated.
Herakles despairs of being able to hold the world. He strains with all his might and is only just barely able to keep it from tumbling.
But standing behind him is the goddess Athena ... out of Herakles' field of vision.
Athena calmly lifts her left hand and gently steadies the burden with her fingertips.
She's not doing any heavy lifting. She is only using her little finger to steady the load.
There is great Sacred Symbolism in this relief's message. Herakles thinks he is carrying the burden all by himself and he fears he cannot do it.
But in fact he is not carrying it all by himself. Athena is behind him all the time.
The Sacred Symbolism applies to all of us.
You have to strain with all your might and you may despair and you may feel abandoned and all alone. And yet ... the Great and Good God is there behind you, lifting his little finger to help you bear the weight of the whole world!
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