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Heracles

by Brent P. Newhall

Heracles Heracles (Latin: Hercules) is the son of the god Zeus and Alcmene. His gift was fabulous strength; he strangled two serpents in his cradle, and killed a lion before manhood. Heracles' main antagonist was Hera. She eventually drove him mad, during which time he killed his own children and his brother's. He was so grieved upon recovery that he exiled himself and consulted the oracle of Apollo. The oracle told him to perform twelve labors

These Twelve Labors were:

  • Kill the lion of Nemea. He strangled it without further ado.
  • Kill the nine-headed Hydra. Two new heads would grow on the Hydra from each fresh wound, and one was immortal. Heracles burned the eight and put the immortal one under a rock.
  • Capture the Ceryneian Hind. After running after it for many months, he finally trapped it.
  • Kill the wild boar of Erymanthus. A wild battle, but pretty straightforward: Heracles won.
  • Clean the Augean Stables of King Augeas. He succeeded only by diverting a nearby river to wash the muck away.
  • Kill the carnivorous birds of Stymphalis.
  • Capture the wild bull of Crete.
  • Capture the man-eating mares of Diomedes.
  • Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons (not all that easy, actually).
  • Capture the oxen of Geryon.
  • Take the golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides, which was always guarded by the dragon Ladon. Heracles tricked Atlas into getting he apples by offering to hold the Earth for Atlas. When he returned with the apples, Heracles asked him to take the Earth for a moment so he could go get a pillow for his aching shoulders. Atlas did so, and Heracles left with his apples.
  • Bring Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hades, to the surface world.

Heracles was now free to return to Thebes and marry Deianira. Later the centaur Nessus tried to abduct Deianira; Heracles shot him with a poisoned arrow. The dying Nessus told Deianira to keep his blood, as it would always preserve Heracles' love. When Deianira later feared she was being supplanted by Iole, Deianira sent Heracles a garment soaked in Nessus' blood. It poisoned Heracles, who was taken to Olympus and endowed with immortality after death.


Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Herakles
    Hercules
  • Etymology:
    Glory of Hera
  • Genealogy:
  • Image:

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