The divine storm in Heracles would not rest even as an older man. He fell again into a terrible rage. To atone for the murder of his wife, he was given to serve Omphale, the queen of Lydia. Where his last master sent him to fight monsters, Omphale knew that he would learn nothing from this. She took his lionskin, she took his olive club and went across the country battling monsters and saving lives.
While she became the hero, Heracles stayed in her palace and worked as a weaver and spinner of yarn. For three years, he lived the life he had taken from his wife, until Omphale grew weary of heroics and returned the weapon and the hide to the hero, hoping the wisdom he had spun would stay woven into his being.
Her name was mocked at first, as it means belly button, but it also means nexus, and her years of being Heracles marked a turning point in his life. A lesson in both humility and humanity.
Omphale is part of the Mythology exhibition at Brading Roman Villa.
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