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MYTHOLOGY: TIMELESS TALES OF GODS & HEROES. Chapters 11-12. THE LABORS OF HERCULES. Heracles (Hercules). Son of Zeus and Alcmene (mortal) Persecuted throughout his life by Hera who is jealous of Zeus’s affair with Alcmene

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Heracles hercules
Heracles (Hercules)

  • Son of Zeus and Alcmene (mortal)

  • Persecuted throughout his life by Hera who is jealous of Zeus’s affair with Alcmene

  • Born “Alcides” but renamed “Heracles” (glory of Hera) to appease Hera

  • Sends snakes to kill him in his crib when he is a baby

Hera s revenge
Hera’s Revenge

  • Hercules married Megara, daughter of the King of Thebes

  • They had three sons together

  • Hera found the family and struck Hercules with a fit of madness

  • Hercules killed his three sons and his wife because he thought they were beasts

  • Athena knocks out Hercules with a rock

  • When he recovers, he realizes what he’s done

Hercules penance
Hercules’ Penance

  • Feeling guilty for murdering his family, Hercules consults the Oracle at Delphi

  • He is ordered to accomplish ten tasks given to him by King Eurystheus

  • Completing these “labors” would purify him and earn him immortality

  • Although he was supposed to complete ten, he was made to perform 12 since he got help completing two of them

1 kill the nemean lion
1. Kill the Nemean Lion

  • Lion had hide so thick it could not be pierced by arrows or knife

  • Hercules wrestled the lion to the ground and strangled it

2 kill the hydra of lerna
2. Kill the Hydra of Lerna

  • Hydra is a huge serpent with many heads

  • Each time he cut off a head, two more grew in its place

  • So, when he cut off a head, Iolaus cauterize the stump, preventing the new heads from growing.

  • Hydra had one immortal head, which Hercules buried

  • Didn’t get credit for this one because Iolaus helped him

3 capture the cerynitian hind
3. Capture the Cerynitian Hind

  • The deer with the golden antlers was sacred to Artemis

  • Hercules had to capture it unharmed

  • Took him one year to catch it

  • Finally caught it in a huge net while it slept

4 capture the erymanthian boar
4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar

  • The boar had plagued the countryside for a long time

  • Hercules called it out and led it straight into a snow drift.

  • Caught the boar in chains

5 clean the augean stables
5. Clean the Augean Stables

  • This task was intended to humiliate him and it seemed impossible

  • The stables belonging to King Augeus contained thousands of cattle and hadn’t been cleaned in thirty years

  • He had to complete the task in one day

  • Diverted the courses of two rivers to make them run through the stables and wash away the dung

6 drive out stymphalian birds
6. Drive out Stymphalian Birds

  • These man-eating birds had taken over a forest in Arcadia

  • Hercules got rid of them by using a giant rattle made by Hephaestus

  • Rattle’s noise scared them away

  • Because Hephaestus helped him, he did not get credit for this one.

7 capture the cretan bull
7. Capture the Cretan Bull

  • Beautiful bull given to Minos by Poseidon

  • Hercules subdues the bull after a long struggle

8 captures the mares of diomedes
8. Captures the Mares of Diomedes

  • Dangerous man-eating horses

  • Hercules rounds up the horses

  • Diomedes attacks Hercules

  • Hercules defeats Diomedes and feeds him to his own horses

  • The horses then become tame

9 fetch hippolyte s girdle
9. Fetch Hippolyte’s Girdle

  • Belt/sash owned by the Queen of the Amazons

  • Hercules asks for the girdle and the Queen simply gives it to him.

10 steal the cattle of geryon
10. Steal the Cattle of Geryon

  • Hercules first has to kill a two-headed watch dog

  • Encounters many other obstacles along the way to completing the task

11 fetch the golden apples
11. Fetch the Golden Apples

  • These apples belonged to Atlas’s daughters.

  • Hercules convinces Atlas to fetch the apples for him while he holds the world on his shoulders for Atlas

  • Atlas returns with the apples but refuses to take the world back on his shoulders

  • Hercules tricks Atlas

12 fetch cerberus from hades
12. Fetch Cerberus from Hades

  • Three-headed guard dog of the Underworld

  • Gets guidance from Athena, Hermes, and Hestia

  • Wrestles Cerberus bare-handed because he promised Hades not to use weapons

Death and immortality
Death and Immortality

  • Hercules finally “purified”

  • He was given immortality, but he would first have to die.

  • A dying centaur tricked Hercules’ wife (Deianeira) into killing him with a poison shirt

  • His mortal body was burned alive at his request

  • He ascends to Mount Olympus