Monday, 30 July 2012


Heracles (Hercules in Latin) was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. His jealous stepmother, Hera, tried to murder the infant Heracles by putting a serpent in his cradle. Luckily for Heracles, he was born with great strength and killed the serpent. By the time Heracles was an adult, he had already killed a lion. Eventually, Hera drove Hercules insane. Due to his insanity, Hercules killed his wife, Megera, and their three children. Heracles exiled himself because of the shame that he had brought on himself through his lack of sanity. Heracles decided to ask the Delphic Oracle what he should do to regain his honor. The Oracle told him to go to Eurystheus, king of Mycenae, and serve him for twelve years. King Eurystheus couldn't think of any tasks that might prove difficult for the mighty son of Zeus, so Hera came down from her palace on Olympus to help him. Together, the twosome came up with twelve tasks for Hera's mortal stepson to complete.
These tasks are now known as the twelve labors of Heracles.
Heracles' first labor was to kill the menacing Nemea Lion; Heracles strangled the creature and carried it back to Mycenae.

The second task was to overcome the nine-headed snake known as the Hydra (Lernea Hydra in Greek); Heracles' cousin Iolaos helped him out by burning the stumps of the heads after Heracles cut off the heads; since the ninth head was immortal, Heracles rolled a rock over it.
The third task was to find the golden-horned stag and bring it back alive; Heracles followed the stag around for one full year; he finally captured the stag and took it back alive.
The fourth labor was to capture a wild boar that terrorized Mycenae's people; Heracles chased the boar up a mountain where the boar fell in to a snow drift, where Hercules subdued it.
The fifth task of Heracles was to clean the Augean stables, where thousands of cattle were housed, in a single day; Heracles diverted two rivers so that they would flow into the Augean stables.
The sixth labor was to destroy the man-eating Stymphalian birds; Heracles drove them out of their hiding places with a rattle and shot them with poison-tipped arrows.
The sixth task was for Heracles to capture a Cretean savage bull; Heracles wrestled it to the ground and took it back to King Eurystheus.
The eighth labor was to capture the four man-eating mares of Thrace; Heracles threw the master of the mares to them; the horses became very tame, so Heracles safely led them back to Mycenae.
Heracles' ninth labor was to obtain the girdle of the fierce Amazon warrior queen, Hippolyta; Hippolyta willingly gave her girdle to Hercules, but Hera convinced the Amazons that Heracles was trying to take Hippolyta from them, so Heracles fought them off and returned to his master with the girdle.
The tenth labor was to capture the cattle of the monster, Geryon; Heracles killed Geryon, claimed the cattle, and took them back to the king.
The eleventh task was to get the golden-apples of the Hesperides; Heracles told Atlas that if he would get the apples for him, he (Heracles) would carry the heavens for him; when Atlas returned from his task he didn't want to take the heavens back from Heracles but Heracles tricked him into taking back the heavens.
The final (twelfth) labor of Heracles was to bring the three-headed watchdog of the underworld, Cerberus, to the surface without using any weapons; Heracles seized two of Cerberus' heads and the dog gave in. Heracles took the dog to his master, who ordered him to take it back. Finally, after twelve years and twelve tasks, Heracles was a free man.
Heracles went to the town of Thebes and married Deianira. She bore him many children. Later on in their life, the male centaur, Nessus, abducted Deianira, but Heracles came to her rescue by shooting Nessus with a poison tipped arrow. The dying Nessus told Deianira to keep a portion of his blood to use as a love potion on Heracles if she felt that she was losing him to another woman. A couple of a months later, Deianira thought that another woman was coming between her and her husband, so she washed one of Heracles' shirts in Nessus' blood and gave it to him to wear. Nessus had lied to her, for the blood really acted as a poison and almost killed Heracles. On his funeral pyre, the dying Heracles ascended to Olympus, where he was granted immortality and lived among the gods.
Taken from the Encyclopedia Mythica

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