I recently received an invitation to read a paper at Academia by Jan Bremmer. The topic was "initiating Heracles". I was excited by this; I had been considering the topic for Heracles and Achilles. After some confusion on my part, I finally figured out the topic. Bremmer was not discussing Eleusis or Samothrace, but rather the more mundane rite-of-passage from youth to adulthood.
Naturally, this discussion requires a lot of background discussion on the youth of the demi-god. As Bremmer points out, most of the tales are overshadowed by his labors and adventures as an adult. As part of the rituals’ separation-from-society motif, Bremmer says, “Naturally, while shepherding in the mountains these youths offered excellent occasions for nymphs and goddesses to take advantage of them.” I am just saying, “take advantage of” is a phrase most guys I know would never us.
“Rhadamanthys is the son of Theban Europe” Europa’s brother Cadmus was the founder of Thebes, but I don’t see how that make Rhadmanthys’ mother a Theban.
Bremmer does a great job of surveying all the evidence for Heracles’ rite of passage. But it is all by inference. Her survey is convincing. But we have that issue to the mysterious connection between myth and ritual. Why did no ancient poet or mythographer not tell us a myth about some hero’s rite of passage and actually call it that?