The Pillars of Hercules, The Straight of Gibraltar and the Almighty Dollar.
Ancient Mysteries: Monoliths
By Virginia Carraway Stark
The Straight of Gibraltar is a narrow opening between Europe and the African continent. It is located between Spain and Morocco connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. This straight is actually an ancient monolith that will forever be connected in mythology with the feats of Hercules.
According to legend, Hercules was half mortal and half god. He was given 12 impossible feats to complete as a way to gain immortality and to be saved from the wrath of his father, Zeus. Hercules had super human strength and stamina, but he was also forced to suffer more than any mortal had ever been made to suffer in payment for his superpowers. After completing the first 9 of the 12 tasks inside the rim of the Mediterranean, his tenth task was to take him outside of the Mediterranean and into the wilds of the Atlantic Ocean.
His task didn’t sound particularly difficult. He was had to bring cattle back to Greece. There wereseveral obstacles in his way, the main one was that no Greek had ever left the Mediterranean before (Also the cattle belonged to a monstrous, three-headed king, but that doesn’t come up much
in regards to the monolith itself.)
The Mediterranean was ringed by mountains that were considered impossible to cross and getting over them was the most difficult part of his 10 supernatural sword to split the mountains open and to become the first Greek to reach the Atlantic Ocean.
In modern terms, it is difficult to understand the importance that the Greeks put on what is now the strait of Gibraltar. In that time the two huge monolithic mountains that guarded the exit to the Atlantic were considered to be more than a strait, they were considered to be a gateway. They were a portal between the world of reality that they had always know, and the world of myth and of extreme possibilities. The Rock of Gibraltar is usually referred to as the northern pillar and the Jebel Musa is the southern pillar in North Africa.
In other writings, the portals are described as a magical place that open gateways to different oceans or seas. They describe going through the portals once and ending up in a shallow sea and
then a second time and arriving in rough, deep seas.
The motto of Spain: Plus Ultra is Latin for ‘further beyond’ and it is featured around the Pillars of Hercules. This echoes back to the belief that exiting through the pillars was to go beyond the known limits of this world and into another world entirely.
The Pillars of Hercules are something that you probably see everyday without knowing it: They are the lines that are put on the dollar sign.
Originally taken from the Spanish flag, the first dollar sign was seen in the 1770’s. Pesos were the standard for international trade at the time and the ‘p’ for peso was gradually marked with the pillars of Hercules. The American Dollar was being printed around the time and the ‘p’ was the challenge. Hercules used his powerful, replaced with scrolling ‘s’ that mimicked the ribbon that wrapped around the pillars of Hercules.
The American Mint adopted the double pillar and the ‘s’ to show that one American dollar was equal to one Spanish Peso.It seemed the most powerful sign that could be put on money was Hercules blasting his way into the Atlantic to steal the cattle of a three-headed king. There are many other stories that talk about where the dollar sign came from but this one seems to have the greatest credence behind it.
The word ‘Gibraltar’ means ‘Impenetrable Stronghold’. Certainly, it has proven to be that over the years and to this day it serves as a fortress under the control of Britain. People who visit the caverns of Gibraltar report feeling a strange, ‘electric’ energy in the tunnels that are peppered all throughout this great monolith. Most of the tunnels were built during World War 2 but some of them predate that considerably.
In fact, it is believed that the very last group of Neanderthals in existence died out in the ancient caverns of Gibraltar. The two square miles of limestone that date back to the Jurassic period hold more mysteries than we have yet uncovered.
There is a population of Macaque monkeys that live on Gibraltar. The inhabitants of Gibraltar were largely evacuated during world war 2, and the residents banded together to collect the monkeys, immunize them and take them off the island as well. After the war, they were all returned. The macaques of Gibraltar are special monkeys. They have hands that are quite similar to humans and they have a lot of aggression as well. They made headlines more recently when they attacked actor Jason Biggs and his wife while they were vacationing in Gibraltar.
Their aggression, however isn’t the mystery. The mystery is that nobody has every found a dead macaque on the island or a skeleton of one of the simians. It is speculated that perhaps they throw themselves into the sea or throw their dead into the sea, but if so: Why do their bodies never wash ashore? Yet another eerie mystery about these ‘portals’.