Essay title: Tales of Childhood
courage and for his legendary adventures. Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek hero Heracles. Hercules's mother was Alcmena or Alcmene, the wife of King Amphitryon of Troezen. His father was none other than Zeus, the king of the gods, who disguised himself as Amphitryon and visited Alcmena on a night that lasted as long as three ordinary nights. Hera, Zeus' jealous wife, was determined to kill Hercules, and after Hercules was born, she sent two giant great serpents to kill him. Hercules, while he was still a baby, strangled the snakes.
Hercules conquered a tribe that had been demanding money from Thebes. As a reward, he was given the hand in marriage of the Theben princess Megara and they had three children. Hera, still filled hatred of Hercules, sent him into madness, which made him kill his wife and children. In horror and shame at what he did, Hercules was about to kill himself.
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But he was told by the oracle at Delphi that he should purge himself by becoming the servant of his cousin Eurystheus, king of Mycenae. Eurystheus, urged by Hera, planned as a punishment the 12 impossible tasks, the "Labors of Hercules." Jones 2His first labor was to kill the nemean lion, which was more of a monster than a lion.His skin was so thick that spears and arrows could not penetrate it.Hercules blocked the entrance to the lion’s cave, crawled in, and killed the lion with his bare hands.
Afterwards he wore the lion’s skin as a cloak and its jaw as a helmet. The second labor was to kill the many headed, monstrous, Hydra, who lived in the swamps of lerna.Once one head was cut off, another would grow back in its place.The Hydra’s breath was also deadly.Hercules lured the beast out into the open, but the fight soon went in the Hydra’s favor.Iolas, Hercules’ nephew, came to his rescue.Hercules would cut off one head and Iolas would sear it with a flame to prevent it from growing back.Hercules buried the head that was supposedly immortal deep beneath a rock.
The third Labor was the capture the hind of the Cerynitian, a female deer with golden horns. It was very important to Artemis, so Hercules had to be very careful not to wound it. He hunted for a year when he found it on the banks of the River Ladon in Arcadia.
With his bow and arrow, he shot an arrow between the tendons and bones of its forelegs, which pinned it down without drawing blood.Artemis was unhappy, but Hercules managed to place the blame on Eurystheus. The fourth Labor was for Hercules to capture an enormous boar in Arcadia, and bring it back alive.
On the way, Hercules stopped to visit the half-horse, half-man Pholus.Pholus was looking at one of Hercules’ arrows when he accidentally dropped it on his foot.He died instantly because the arrow was still soaked with the deadly blood of the Hydra.
Jones 3 Hercules found the boar on Mount Erymanthus and cornered it into a snow bank, immobilizing it. He tossed the boar over his shoulder and carried it back to Eurystheus, who cowered as usual in his storage jar. Hercules next labor was to clean out the stables of King Augeas in a single day.
Augeas’ large amount of household animals deposited their droppings in such quantity over the years that a thick aroma hung over the entire Peloponnesus. Hercules diverted two rivers through the stable, rather than using a shovel.He didn’t even get dirty.But because he had demanded payment of Augeas, Eurytheus refused to count this as a Labor. The sixth labor was Hercules against the Stymphalian birds, who resided near Lake Stymphalus in Arcadia. It was difficult for Hercules to get close to the birds because the ground was very soft and swampy.
He ended up using some castanets he received from Athena.He made a racket with them and this caused the birds to take flight.Once in the air, he took them down with his arrows. Hercules’ seventh labor was to rid the Cretan countryside of the Minotaur.
The Minotaur was the son of Queen Pasiphae of Crete and a bull she had been inspired to fall in love with by a vengeful god.Pasiphae's husband wanted the Minotaur gone.Hercules overpowered the beast that belched flames, and forced it back to the mainland. It ended up near Athens, where it became the problem of another hero, Theseus, to deal with it. Next Hercules was retrieve the mares of Diomedes..