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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
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