When Hercules was born to Alcmene, she named him Herakles. But in Roman, Herakles is pronounced Hercules, which is the name we use for Hercules to this day. Hercules in Greek mythology is a great figure of valor and muscle strength. Hercules bravery earned him a place among the gods. After he left the mortal world, he found a position on Mount Olympus, the gods’ dwelling place.
Zeus, the King of the gods was an unfaithful husband. He had a weakness for worldly pleasures. He fell in love with Alcmene, the wife of Amphitryon. In a short time, Alcmene conceived Hercules. This angered Hera and she tried to kill Hercules. Hercules survived his first fatal assault with a miracle.
When Hercules reached adulthood he became a famous warrior. He also fell in love with a beautiful woman called Megara. Megara became the mother of Hercules’ children and together they made a happy family. However, things were to be different. Hera took a vow to irritate Hercules during his lifetime. She tricked Hercules into a wild rage. In his rage, the mortal god Hercules killed his family. This was exactly what Hera wanted!
When Hercules returned to his normal state of mind, he saw things were beyond remedy. He prayed to Apollo to get rid of his crime. Apollo was the sun god who could read into the future. We find in Greek Mythology that Hercules requested his advice. Apollo assigned him ten important tasks (later it was turned to twelve) as the way of purifying his soul.
The Delphic oracle sent him to Tiryns where the king Eurystheus ruled. Hercules was expected to serve him as laborer for twelve years of his life. However, the difficult service was not fruitless. Apollo promised him immortality. He was to become a god. However, the great Hercules of greek mythology had one problem, Hera. She actually kept her promise to make Hercules’ life as wretched as she could. Nevertheless, with the assistance of Hermes and Athena, Hercules pulled off his term of twelve years with excellence. In addition, he became the greatest mortal on the earth to become a god.
Hercules In Greek Mythology – What Made Him So Special?
The honorable penance of Hercules and his eventual success is what makes him so special. His success brought him immortality, which would have been unthinkable for ordinary mortals. Hercules’ first task was to peel off the skin of the horrifying Nemean Lion after capturing one. His next task was to kill The Lernean Hydra. The Lernean Hydra was a serpent with nine heads, which never gave peace to the lives of those around it. The third task for him was to bring a Hind (a sacred red deer) from Ceryneia to the king. The deer was the pet of Diana, the Moon goddess.
The fourth task for Hercules was to bring a live Erymanthian Boar. It was very dangerous to men and animals living around the mountain Erymanthus. Then Hercules was asked to clean up King Augeas’ stables in one day. Are you thinking what is so great about it? King Augeas had an awesome amount of cattle of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses. Hercules proposed to King Augeas that he would clean the stable only if he rewarded Hercules with a tenth of his cattle.
After this success, Eurystheus was planning to make something tougher for Hercules. He commanded Hercules to force out an enormous flock of birds, which assembled at a lake near the town of Stymphalos. Goddess Athena helped him with a pair of bronze krotala, an item similar to castanets. The Cretan Bull was an easy task for Hercules. Hercules wrestled the bull, and then delivered it back to King Eurystheus.
The eighth task was to bring the Man-Eating Horses of Diomedes. It was followed by the battle against the Amazonian female army to get the belt of Hippolyte, the queen. The tenth labor was an awesome one. Hercules had to go around the world, to bring the cattle of the Monster Geryon. It had three heads and three sets of legs all attached at the waist.
The tricky assignment was the eleventh one. Eurystheus asked Hercules to get the Apples of the Hesperides. These were the golden apples gifted by Hera to Zeus. These apples were strictly guarded by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon, and also by Hesperides, daughters of Atlas. The other obstacle was that Hercules had no idea where these apples of Hesperides were located. Eventually, Hercules found the location from Nereus whom he seized until Nereus gave him the location of the apples of Hesperides.
Then Hercules found out through Prometheus, whom Hercules had helped, that he would have to have Atlas retrieve the apples. Hercules agreed to hold the sky and the earth while Atlas retrieved the apples. When Atlas returned with the apples, he told Hercules that if he would hold the sky and earth for the rest of time, that he would take them to Eurystheus himself. But Hercules fooled Atlas by asking him to hold the earth until he padded his shoulders. Atlas took Hercules place holding the earth, and Hercules picked up the apples and ran.
After making the great Hercules do all sorts of unbelievable errands, Eurystheus made sure that he did not succeed the last time. So, he ordered Hercules to abduct Cerberus, the underworld beast. Did you ever hear a living man visiting the Hades? However, Greek mythology tells us Hercules was no ordinary man. He was a hero.
He eventually did complete all the tasks, purified his soul and rescued the princess of Troy from a ravenous sea-monster. He also facilitated Zeus to beat the Giants in a great battle for the control of Olympus. He married again, to the charming Deianira. She presented him a cloak, which was coated with what she mistakenly thought to be a magic love potion. She was told that the balm would make the person love her forever.
Ironically, it was poison, which burned Hercules skin. Hercules, not being able to endure the pain asked his friends to kindle a fire. Then Hercules placed himself on the fire to be burned up alive. But the gods looked down, and Zeus thought that Hercules had suffered enough. So he asked Hera to end her anger toward Hercules, which she did. Then Hercules was brought to Olympus in Athena’s chariot by Zeus’ request.
This Greek mortal Hercules is undoubtedly the greatest hero of Greek Mythology. Hercules is still considered to be the perfect mythical character.
By Randy Wilson
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