King Eurystheus Hiding from Hercules

King Eurystheus Hiding from Hercules


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Do You Know About The Twelve Labours Of Hercules

When we think about the bravest people on the planet, Hercules always comes to our mind. But no one knows that Hercules was a myth or a reality. We know about him and his stories from ancient fables. Hercules was known as the victor of the human race. The mighty God Zeus was his father.

12 Labours of Hercules, Credits: Museo nazionale romano di palazzo Altemps, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hercules found himself in fear when he understood that he had done the most awful wrongdoing thinkable. He got a curse from the Goddess Hera. The Goddess who hated him gave him a curse of short-time madness. Due to his madness, he lost his own family. Hera hated him because he was born of the adultery of Zeus. Hercules wanted to overcome his sorrow, he went to King Eurystheus of Tiryns because of Oracle of Delphi. King humiliated him and gave him ten impossible tasks to fight against supernatural forces and mighty monsters. These all fights are knowns as the Labours of the Hercules. In these heavy tasks, he defeated Nemean Lion, a multiple head serpent Lernaean Hydra, Ceryneian Hind, Erymanthian boar, Stymphalian birds, Cretan bull, Geryon cattle, etc.

The first labour of Hercules was to defeat the Nemean Lion. According to the fables, that lion abducted females and scoffed soldiers. When Hercules came back to the court of Tiryns, he had a tiring hide of Nemean. King Eurystheus terrified because of this incident and covered in a wine vessel. After that, Eurystheus gave him a task that will be far from the palace of Eurystheus.

Hercules. French educational card, late 19th/early 20th century.

The second goal of Hercules was a massive serpent. The name of that multi-head serpent was the Lernaean Hydra. Lernaean has the power of re-growing heads. He killed the serpent with Fire.

Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The third task was to kill a female deer Ceryneian Hind. The goddess Artemis respected and save the persistent small deer of golden horns. It was very difficult for Hercules to seizure the subtle hind without hurting him. Because it would make Artemis irritated. He followed that dear form for almost one year and safely present it in the court without hurting him.

Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The fourth labour of the Hercules was to imprison the Erymanthian boar. He chased and stuck it in dense snow. His fifth labour was to the cleaning of the thousands of cattle of stables of King Augeas. Normally, this talk requires thirty years, but Hercules did it in one day. The 6th labour was to kill the deadliest Stymphalian Birds of Lake Stymphalos. Hercules killed them with the poisonous arrows of blood Hydra. The Seventh task of Hercules was to capture the insane Bull of Crete. Hercules defeated him in a deadly fight. Hercules’s 8th task was to capture the Horses of King Diomedes. They were so insane that they could even eat the flesh of people. Hercules and his subordinates defeated king Diomedes. And tamed his horses.

His ninth labour was to take the Girdle of the Queen Hippolyte of Amazon. At Amazon, he conquered the Amazons and took the golden belt. The tenth task was also related to the capture of the Cattle of Geryon. Geryon was a flying giant with 3 hominid bodies. He had a mass of attractive red cattle. Hercules defeated Geryon and took the cattle to his King in Greece. The eleventh labour was to take the Golden Apples of nymph Hesperides. The apples were conserved by the dragon Ladon. Hercules bartered with Atlas for help. Hercules bore the earth to get the apples.

The last and the twelfth task was to capture a three-headed dog Cerberus without the use of any armaments. He lived in the underworld. Hercules struggled with the dog and made him ready to go with him to the court of King Eurystheus. After completion of all 12 labours, Hercules was forgiven for the sad demises of his intimate and got a residence in the heavenly pantheon. These 12 labours made him one of the bravest men on the planet. Via labours, Hercules controlled the planet’s insanity by redressing for his madness.


Contents

Mortals die, but gods live forever. Herakles was part mortal, part god. His father was the god Zeus and his mother was the mortal Alkmene. Zeus' wife Hera was the goddess of marriage. She hated Herakles because he was one of her husband's bastards. She tried many times to kill him, even when he was a baby. He lived in spite of Hera's persecution and hatred, and did many great deeds as a young man.

Herakles married Megara, the daughter of a king. They became the parents of several children. Hera caused Herakles to go mad and to kill his family. The priestess of Delphi ordered Herakles to serve his cousin King Eurystheus of Tiryns as a penance for this crime. Eurystheus would present a series of tasks to Herakles. These tasks were said to have been designed by Hera herself in the hope that they would kill Herakles.

There is no definite order for the Labors. Most of the time, however, the order is: Nemean Lion, Lernean Hydra, Cerynitian Hind, Erymanthian Boar, Augean Stables, Stymphalian Birds, Cretan Bull, Mares of Diomedes, Girdle of Hippolyta, Cattle of Geryon, Apples of the Hesperides, and Kerberos. The order here is that of the sculptures called metopes on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. These sculptures (made about 460–450 BC) were placed high on the outside of the temple in a frieze. Their order was described by the ancient Greek geographer, Pausanias. Some of these metopes are used in this article to illustrate the Labors. The first group of six metopes are from the west end of the temple. The second group of six are from the east end. Some of the illustrations here are taken from Greek vase paintings. The Labors of Herakles became the subject of much ancient and modern art, and even movies like Hercules (1958) starring Steve Reeves and the Walt Disney animated movie Hercules (1997).

Lion of Nemea Edit

A large and dangerous lion was terrorizing the people and animals near the city of Nemea. Weapons of iron, bronze, or stone could not pierce the lion's thick hide (skin). Eurystheus ordered Herakles to kill and skin this lion. [1]

Herakles went to the region of Nemea and stayed with a poor man named Molorchos at Kleonai. Molorchos' son had been killed by this lion. Molorchos wanted to sacrifice his only ram to Herakles, but Herakles asked him to wait thirty days. If he did not return within thirty days, the ram was to be sacrificed to him as a hero. If he returned within thirty days, the ram was to be sacrificed to Zeus the Deliverer. [2]

Herakles found the lion outside its lair on Mount Tretos. His arrows and sword were useless against the beast. He hit the lion with his club and the animal went into his lair. Herakles blocked one of the two openings to the cavern with nets, then entered the cavern. He wrestled the lion and choked it to death. The lion bit off one of his fingers. He returned to Molorchos' hovel with the lion's carcass on his back. The two men sacrificed to Zeus. [3]

When Herakles presented the dead animal to Eurystheus, the king was disgusted. He ordered Herakles to leave such things outside the gates of Tiryns in the future. Eurystheus then put a large bronze jar underground. This was the place where he would hide whenever Herakles returned to the city with some trophy of his Labors. Zeus put the lion among the stars as the constellation Leo. [4]

In the future, Eurystheus would only communicate with Herakles through Kopreus, his dungman. Herakles skinned the lion with one of its own claws. He wore the skin as a kind of armor and the lion's skull as a helmet. [5] Euripides wrote in his play Herakles:"First he cleared the grove of Zeus of a lion, and put its skin upon his back, hiding his yellow hair in its fearful tawny gaping jaws." [6]

The origin of the Nemean Lion is not certain. Some say he was the son of either Typhon or the Chimera and the dog Orthros. Some say the moon goddess Selene gave birth to the lion and let it fall to Earth near a two-mouthed cave at Nemea. She set it against the people because they had failed to properly observe her worship. Some say that Hera had Selene create the lion from sea foam and that Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, carried it to Nemea. [7] Others say the lion was the son of the snake goddess Echidna and her son, the dog Orthos. This would make the lion a brother to the Sphinx of Thebes. Hera was said to have brought the lion from the eastern land of the Arimoi and to have released it near Nemea. [8]

Hydra of Lerna Edit

The Hydra ("water-snake") was a monster with many heads. She lived beneath a plane tree near the spring called Amymone. This spring was near the seaside city of Lerna. She was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and the sister of Kerebos. [9] Hera raised the Hydra to torment Herakles. The Hydra had a dog-like body. [10] Its breath was poisonous. The head in the middle of the monster was immortal—it could not die. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to kill this monster. Herakles and his nephew Iolaos (the son of his brother Iphicles) drove to the swamp near Lerna in Herakles' war chariot. [11] Iolaos was Heracles' charioteer and his lover. [12]

Athena told Herakles to force the monster from the swamp with fire arrows. He did, but the monster twisted itself about his feet. He beat the heads with his club, but crushing one head only caused others to erupt. A great crab crawled from the swamp to help the Hydra. It bit Herakles in the foot. He crushed its shell. Herakles called Iolaos for his help and cut the Hydra's heads off with his sword. Iolaos sealed the neck stumps with torches so other heads could not grow in their place. [11]

The Hydra was at last killed. Herakles cut off the immortal head and buried it under a heavy stone in the road. He dipped his arrowheads in the Hydra's poisonous blood. They became deadly. [13] Back in Tiryns, Eurystheus would not count this adventure as a Labor because Herakles had had his nephew's help. He added another Labor to the list. Hera set the crab in the sky as a constellation. [14] [15] The river Anigrus in Elis stank because the Hydra's poison was washed from the arrows Heracles used to kill the centaur Nessus in its waters. [16]

Stymphalian Birds Edit

The Stymphalian Birds were man-eating birds living on the shores of Lake Stymphalos in north-eastern Arcadia. The birds were sacred to Ares, the god of war. Their feces poisoned the land and crops would not grow. The birds attacked men with their bronze beaks and claws. They could rain down their sharp bronze feathers to kill men and their animals. [17]

Herakles failed to drive them off with his arrows. Athena gave him a set of metal castanets (or a rattle) made by the blacksmith of the gods, Hephaestus. Herakles climbed to a rocky place over the lake and made so much noise with the castanets that the birds flew as far as the Isle of Ares in the Black Sea. Herakles was able to kill many of them with his arrows as they flew away. [17]

Some say the birds were women. Artemis Stymphalia ruled the swamps about the lake. Her temple there had pictures of young girls with the feet of birds. These girls lured men to their deaths in the swamps. They were said to be the daughters of Stymphalos and Ornis. These two were killed by Herakles when they would not give him food, drink, and a place to rest. [18] [19]

Cretan Bull Edit

The Cretan Bull rose from the sea. Poseidon, god of the sea, intended King Minos to sacrifice the bull, but it was so handsome that Minos kept it for himself. He sent it to mate with his cows, then sacrificed another bull to Poseidon. The god was angry and caused Minos' wife, Queen Pasiphaë, to develop a sexual desire for the animal. [20]

She mated with it and gave birth to a son. This son was the Minotaur, a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The Cretan Bull went mad. Heracules captured it by throwing a rope about its head and about a leg. Some say he wrestled it, or stunned it with his club. [20]

Minos let Heracules take the bull to Greece. Eurystheus wanted to give the bull to Hera but she would not take it because Heracules had captured it. She let it go and it wandered about Greece. Theseus of Athens finally captured it and sacrificed it to Athena, or some say, Apollo. [21] The bull had spent its days in Crete destroying crops and belching fire. [22]

Hind of Artemis Edit

When Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, was a child, she saw five hinds (female deer) grazing near the Anaurus River in Thessaly. Each was as large as a bull, each had hooves of bronze, and all had antlers of gold. She caught four of them, and used them to pull her chariot. The fifth escaped the goddess and lived on the Keryneian Hill in Arkadia. Hera planned to use this hind against Herakles someday. [23]

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to catch this hind and bring it alive to Tiryns. The danger in this Labor lay in pursuing the hind through wild lands from which no hunter ever returned. [24] Herakles hunted the hind for a year, chasing it through Istria and the Land of the Hyperboreans. The hind took refuge on Mount Artemision. Herakles let fly an arrow that pinned the hind's forelegs (front legs) together without drawing blood. He put the hind on his shoulders and took her back to Tiryns. [25]

Artemis and Apollo stopped Herakles on his way to Tiryns. On some vases, Apollo is seen trying to forcibly take the hind from Herakles. Herakles however lay the blame for the theft on Eurystheus. Artemis accepted this plea and allowed him to pass. [26] Some say Herakles used a net to capture the hind or captured her when she was asleep under a tree. [25]

Girdle of Hippolyte Edit

Eurystheus' daughter Admete was a priestess of Hera. [27] She wanted the Golden Girdle (belt) of Hippolyte, the Queen of the Amazons. This girdle had been a gift to Hippolyte from her father, Ares, the god of war. The Amazons were all related to Ares. They hated men and mated only to make more female warriors. Baby boys were killed or crippled. The lives of these women were devoted to war.

Herakles and friends sailed to their land of Pontos on the Black Sea. The Amazons lived at the mouth of the Thermodon River. [20] Hippolyte welcomed Herakles. She fell in love with his muscles and his great fame. She promised him the girdle as a love token. Hera disguised herself as an Amazon. She whispered among others that Herakles was going to kidnap the Queen. The Amazons charged Herakles' ship on horseback. Herakles killed Hippolyte, and took the girdle. Many Amazons were killed. [28]

Some say Hippolyte would not part with the girdle. Herakles threw her from her horse and threatened her with his club. She would not ask for mercy. Herakles killed her. [29] Some say Hippolyte's sister Melanippe was taken prisoner. She was ransomed with the girdle. Some say Hippolyte herself was taken prisoner and ransomed with the girdle. Others say Theseus took Hippolyte prisoner and gave the girdle to Herakles. [28] Herakles gave the girdle to Eurystheus, who gave it to Admete. [30]

Erymanthian Boar Edit

A large and dangerous boar was living on Mount Erymanthos. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to catch this boar. [31] On Mount Erymanthos, Herakles forced the boar from the wood with his shouts. He then drove the boar into deep snow and jumped on its back. He put the boar in chains, placed it on his shoulders, and took it to Eurystheus. The king was so scared he hid in his bronze jar. [32] [33] Herakles left the boar in the market square of Tiryns. He then joined the Argonauts on the Quest for the Golden Fleece. [34]

Mount Erymanthos took its name from a son of Apollo. Aphrodite blinded him because he saw her taking a bath. Apollo was angry. He turned himself into a boar and killed her boyfriend Adonis. [31]

Horses of Diomedes Edit

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to bring him the Horses of King Diomedes of Thrace. King Diomedes' horses were savage man-eaters, and were fed on the flesh of Diomedes' innocent guests. Herakles and his friends sailed to the coast of Thrace. Having found the stables of Diomedes, they killed the king's servants. They then put Diomedes before the horses. The animals tore him to pieces and ate him. The horses grew calm after feeding, and were led to the ship. Herakles sent them to Eurystheus. [35]

Diomedes was the son of Ares, the god of war, and the king of the Bistones, a Thracian tribe of warlike people. While travelling in connection with this Labor, Herakles visited King Admetos. His wife Alcestis had just died. Herakles wrestled Death for Alcestis and he won. Alcestis was returned to life. This event is the basis for Euripides' play Alcestis. Eurystheus dedicated the savage horses to Hera. They were said to have bred into the age of Alexander the Great.

Another story says Herakles captured the horses and drove them to his ship. Diomedes and his men chased the thieves. Herakles and his friends left the ship to fight the king and his men. The horses of Diomedes were left in the care of Abderos, Herakles' male lover. The horses ate him. Herakles built the city of Abdera in his memory. It was after this Labor that Herakles joined the Quest for the Golden Fleece. He dropped out of the search when his lover Hylas was lost on a strange island. Some say Herakles went on to Kolchis and rejoined the Quest. Others say he returned to Tiryns and the Labors. [36]

Cattle of Geryon Edit

Geryon was a very strong giant with three bodies, six hands, and three heads. He was the King of Tartessus in Spain. [37] He had wings, and the picture on his shield was an eagle. [38] He lived on an island called Erytheia. This island was far to the west in Okeanos, the river that circles the Earth. At night, the Sun sailed upon this river in a Golden Cup. [39]

Geryon had large herds of cattle. [39] They were watched over by Eurytion, Geryon's servant, and a huge two-headed dog named Orthrus, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. [37] King Eurystheus ordered Herakles to capture Geryon's cattle. [39]

Herakles crossed the Libyan desert. At the narrow channel that separates Europe and Africa, he built the Pillars of Herakles. [40] The Sun was hot and Herakles threatened to shoot him with his bow and arrows. The Sun asked him not to do this. Herakles agreed. He borrowed the Sun's Golden Cup and sailed away in it. The Titan Oceanus tested Herakles' seamanship by causing violent waves. Herakles threatened to shoot Oceanus, too. Oceanus calmed the waves. Some say Herakles sailed in an urn and used his lion skin as a sail. [41]

On Geryon's island, Herakles killed the two-headed dog Orthos and the servant Eurytion, who tried to help the dog. Herakles was driving the cattle to the Golden Cup when Geryon appeared, ready to fight. Herakles shot him down and sailed away with the cattle. [42] Herakles had many adventures on his return to Greece. On the Greek coast, Hera sent gadflies to drive the herd of cattle far and wide. Herkales managed to round-up a few and these he presented to Eurystheus. He sacrificed them to Hera. [43]

Apples of the Hesperides Edit

Hera received golden apples as a gift when she married. She planted them in her garden far to the west near Mount Atlas. It was on this mountain that the Titan Atlas held the sky on his shoulders. He was being punished for having joined the other Titans in making war on Zeus. When Hera heard his daughters were stealing from the garden, she sent a one hundred-headed dragon called Ladon to the garden to protect the apples. Three nymphs called the Hesperides also guarded the apples.

Eurystheus wanted Herakles to bring him three golden apples. Herakles set off. The river god Nereus refused to give him directions and changed his shape again and again. Herakles tied him to a tree until he told the way. In the Caucasus, Herakles freed the Titan Prometheus, the fire-bringer, from his chains. Prometheus warned Herakles not to pick the apples himself, but to ask someone else to do it.

Herakles asked Atlas to pick the apples. The Titan agreed, but only if Herakles would kill the dragon and then take the sky on his shoulders. Herakles killed the dragon and took the sky on his shoulders. Atlas picked the apples but refused to take the sky again. He liked being free. Herakles tricked him. He asked Atlas to take the sky — only for a moment — while he put a cushion on his shoulders. Atlas took the sky. Herakles took the apples and headed for Tiryns. Eurystheus did not know what to do with the apples. He gave them to Herakles. Athena returned the apples to the garden, because they did, after all, belong to the gods. [44]

Kerberos Edit

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to bring him Kerberos, a three-headed dog-like monster with a dragon's tail and a mane of poisonous snakes. It guarded the entrance to the Underworld. The three heads could see the past, present, and future. Some say they represented birth, youth, and old age. [45] Kerberos allowed the dead to enter the Underworld, but anyone who tried to leave was eaten. [46] Kerberos was the offspring of Echidna, a monster part woman/part snake, and Typhon, a fire-breathing giant. Kerberos' brother was the two-headed dog Orthrus. [47]

Herakles' first step was to undergo the Mysteries of Eleusis. These rites would protect him in the land of the dead. They would also cleanse him of the massacre of the Centaurs. Athena and Hermes guided Herakles into the Underworld. He was ferried across the River Styx in Charon's boat. On the opposite shore, he met the Gorgon, Medusa. She was a harmless phantom and he passed her without trouble. He met Meleagros and offered to marry his sister, Deianeira. Eventually, he did. When Herakles asked Hades for Kerberos, Hades allowed him to take the monster, but only if he could do so without using his weapons. Herakles wrestled the monster and choked it. Once the monster had yielded, he led it away.

As they neared the Earth's surface, Kerberos tossed his three heads because he hated the sunlight. His spit flew in all directions. From that spit grew the poisonous plant, aconite. When Heracles arrived in Tiryns, Eurystheus was performing a sacrifice. The king gave the best cuts of meat to his relatives and only a slave's portion of meat to Herakles. Herakles was furious with this insult and killed Eurystheus' three sons. Eurystheus was terrified when presented with Kerberos and hid in his bronze jar. Herakles took Kerberos back to the Underworld. Another account says the monster escaped. [48] [49] [50] This Labor is the twelfth and last Labor in some accounts.

Augeian Stables Edit

King Augeias of Elis lived on the west coast of the Peloponnese. He was a son of Helios, the sun god. It was said that the rays of the sun shone in his eyes. [51] Augeias had many cattle. His animals were always healthy, and gave birth to many young. His stables had not been cleaned in years and were thick with animal waste. The valleys were also full of waste. The smell of this waste poisoned the land. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to clean the stables in a day. He liked the thought of Herakles doing such dirty work. [52]

Herakles went to Elis. He did not tell Augeias that Eurystheus had ordered him to clean the stables.Instead, he made a bargain with Augeias. He promised to clean the stables if Augeias would give him some of his cattle. The bargain was made. Augeias' son Phyleos acted as witness. Herakles set to work. First, he made two holes in the stone foundation of the stables. Then he changed the paths of the Alpheios and Peneios Rivers. The rivers were made to flow through one hole and out the other. This is how the stables were washed clean. [53]

Augeias learned from Eurystheus' servant Copreus that Eurystheus had ordered Herakles to clean the stables. [54] He would not respect the bargain he had made with Herakles. Herakles took the case to court. Phyleos was called to court and told the truth about the bargain. Augeias was so angry he drove his son and Herakles out of the land. Back in Tiryns, Eurystheus said that the Labor did not count because Herakles had made a bargain with Augeias. Eurystheus also thought that the river gods had really done the work. [55] [56]

This Labor was the last one presented in the frieze on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. It was important to the Greeks because one day Herakles made war on Augeias and defeated him. Herakles then laid out the Olympian sanctuary in the land of King Augeias and started the Olympic Games. [57] It was said that Menedemus of Elis gave Herakles advice on this Labor and that the hero had the help of his nephew Iolaos. [54] While Augeias and Herakles were making their bargain, Phaeton, one of Augeias' twelve white bulls, charged Herakles. These white bulls guarded all the cattle against wild animals. Phaeton thought the hero was a lion. Herakles forced the bull to the Earth by twisting its horn. [58] Herakles was going to get Augeias' daughter as part of the bargain, but he did not. This was given as one reason for making war later on Augeias. He was also going to become Augeias' slave if the work was not done in one day. [53]


What were the 12 Labors of Hercules?

One of the most famous names in Greek mythology is Hercules. Hercules was born a demi-god. His father was Zeus, and his mother was the mortal princess Alcmene. Zeus was married to Hera, the goddess of women, when he fathered Hercules to Alcmene. Zeus’s infidelity would enrage Hera which would ultimately lead Hercules to kill his wife and children.

Hera’s Vengeance

Alcmene gave birth to Hercules and raised him with her husband, Amphitryon. As Hercules was a demi-god, he was born with superhuman strength, which was evident within the first months of his life. Hera was vengeful and hated Hercules because he reminded Hera of her unfaithful husband, Zeus. Hera tried to kill Hercules as an infant, sending snakes into his crib to poison him. Hercules strangled the snakes that Hera had sent into his crib, but Hera’s vengeance would not stop there.

As Hercules grew into an adult, he married Megara and had many sons. Knowing how much Hercules loved his wife and children, Hera sent madness upon Hercules that caused him to kill his wife and children, taking away everything that Hercules loved.

Hercules Seeks Guidance

When Hercules regains his sensibility, he realizes what he has done to his family, and he is overcome with grief. Hercules turned to Apollo, a god who could offer healing, knowledge, and prophecy. Apollo told Hercules that he must serve Eurystheus, king of Tiryns, to make up for his wrongdoings.

The Twelve Labors

Hera, still determined to eradicate Hercules from the world, suggested to Eurystheus that he order Hercules to fulfill twelve impossible labors. Hera believed that Hercules would die attempting to complete these labors which would finally eradicate him from the world.

1. Slay the Nemean Lion. In the town of Nemea, there was an invincible lion that brought devastation and fear to the town. Hercules was ordered to slay the lion and bring back his skin. Hercules was able to use his brute strength and clever bravery to choke the lion to death and bring the skin to Eurystheus.

2. Slay the Lernean Hydra. Living in the swamp of the town of Lerna was a nine-headed serpent that would terrify the area. The hydra was venomous with one immortal head that could not be killed. Hercules set forth for Lerna with his nephew, Iolaus. With the help of Iolaus, Hercules was able to kill the nine-headed hydra.

3. Capture the Golden Hind. In Greece was the town of Ceryneia where a hind lived. This deer had golden horns and bronze hooves, and was sacred to Artemis, the goddess of hunting and animals therefore, Hercules would not kill it. Instead, Hercules hunted the deer every day for a year. An opportunity to shoot the deer presented itself, and Hercules took it. On his way home, Hercules encountered Artemis and Apollo and had to explain his reason for apprehending the deer. Hercules told them of his servitude to Eurystheus. Artemis and Apollo agreed to let Hercules take the hind under the condition that Hercules brings the hind back unharmed.

4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar. Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the wild boar from the mountain of Erymanthos. Hercules visited his friend and centaur, Pholos. The two ate and drank wine, which attracted other centaurs to the cave. Hercules killed the centaurs with his arrows, which would, unfortunately, be the downfall of Pholos. Pholos picked up an arrow and questioned how it was so lethal when he inadvertently dropped the poisoned arrow on his foot and killed himself. Hercules discovered Pholos, buried him, and began hunting the boar. Hercules was able to drive the fearful boar into snow where he captured the boar in a net and brought the boar to Eurystheus.

5. Clean the Stables of King Augeas. King Augeas had a stable which housed over 1,000 cattle. Hercules approached King Augeas and offered to clean the stables in one day and asked for a tenth of his cattle in return. King Augeas agreed to the terms, under the impression that Hercules would not be able to complete the task. With his quick wits and clever ingenuity, Hercules bore openings in the stables and rerouted the two main rivers, Alpheus and Peneus, to rush through the stables and flush out the waste. Learning that Hercules had been ordered to clean the stables by Eurystheus, King Augeas refused to pay Hercules with one-tenth of his cattle. Hercules took the matter to a judge where the judge determined Hercules should be rewarded for his completion. Hercules returned home where Eurystheus told him that his labor did not count as he had used the rivers to clean the stables, as well as accepted a reward for this labor.

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6. Defeat the Stymphalian Birds. A huge flock of birds was gathered at the town of Stymphalos, so Eurystheus ordered Hercules to drive the birds away. The birds were fierce man-eaters, so Hercules had to determine how to safely remove the birds from the town. Athena visited Hercules and gave him a noise-making clapper to help him scare the birds away. As the birds flew, Hercules shot them with his bow and arrow, while the remainder flew away from the town.

7. Capture the Cretan Bull. Hercules visited the city of Crete where King Minos granted Hercules permission to take this bull away. This bull was destroying the city and scaring the residents. Hercules was able to wrestle the bull to the ground and take him back to Eurystheus.

8. Bring Back the Mares of Diomedes. King Diomedes of Thrace trained mares in his village to eat human flesh. Hercules brought help with him to seize the mares. A companion of Hercules, Abderus, was killed by one of the mares. Hercules would bury Abderus and establish the city of Abdera in his honor. Hercules would kill King Diomedes, feed the horses to calm them, and bring the horses back to Eurystheus.

9. Obtain the Belt of Hippolyta. Queen Hippolyta was a leader of a tribe of warriors and had a leather belt that was given to her by Ares, god of war, as she was the best warrior among all the Amazons. Eurystheus wanted the belt as a gift for his daughter, Admete. When Hercules arrived at the land of the Amazons, Hippolyta came to Hercules and asked why he was there. Truthful, Hercules told Hippolyta that he needed her belt to take back to Eurystheus. Hippolyta agreed to let Hercules have the belt, but not before Hera, disguised as an Amazon warrior, told the tribe that Hercules was there to take Hippolyta. The tribe became apprehensive and dressed in armor as they confronted Hercules. Hercules saw their armor and weapons and assumed Hippolyta had sent her tribe to kill him, so Hercules killed Hippolyta and returned with her belt.

10. Obtain the Cattle of Geryon. Hercules had to travel to the island of Erytheia to retrieve the cattle. Along his way, he killed many beasts in order to locate the cattle. Once he located the cattle and began the journey home, bulls within the cattle got loose. Hercules would have to abandon the herd to find the ones that had run away. Hercules finally gathered the herd and took them to Eurystheus who sacrificed the herd of cattle to Hera.

11. Bring the Golden Apples of Hesperides. Eurystheus had originally given Hercules ten labors to complete, but as two of them were disqualified by Eurystheus, he gave Hercules two more labors to complete. In this labor, Hercules was to steal apples from the garden of Hesperides. Hercules traveled the world in search of the apples and, at the advice of Prometheus, was told to ask Atlas to steal the apples. Hercules held up the heavens and earth while Atlas stole the apples. Atlas requested to take the apples to Eurystheus, and Hercules agreed, to which he asked Atlas to hold the heavens and earth while he adjusted his garments. When Atlas took the heavens and earth back onto his shoulders, Hercules left and returned to Eurystheus to deliver the golden apples.

12. Capture Cerberus. The twelfth and final task was to capture the beast, Cerberus. Cerberus was a three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld to keep the living world from entering. Knowing that he could not enter the underworld through this entrance, Hercules traveled through a deep cave to enter the underworld. Hercules battled many beasts and monsters throughout the underworld until he reached Hades. Hercules asked Hades if he could take the Cerberus to the surface. Hades agreed, only if Hercules could restrain the beat with his bare hands and no weapons. Hercules was able to subdue the Cerberus and take him to Eurystheus, who demanded he return the Cerberus to the underworld.


Greek mythology can be viewed as a mirror to the ancient Greek civilization. Ancient Greek myths and legends often reflected how the Greeks saw themselves. Myths were used by Greeks to make justifications of every existing aspect of earth as well as their own society. In myths, Greek gods & heroes often represented key aspects of the human civilization. From Greek mythology, we can learn about the favorable characteristics of humans, such as their behavior and valuable skills that were approved of by the ancient Greek society.

Odysseus has been heroic in many circumstances. He outwitted the cyclops, Polyphemus, he defeated the powers of Circe and saved his men, and he saved his men from The Sirens. Odysseus should be considered an archetype hero. Odysseus was a archetype hero in many ways, but one of his most famous moments was against Polyphemus. Odysseus and twelve of his men encountered the giant cyclops, Polyphemus, on the island of Sicily.


12 Labors of Heracles

Two nymphs &ndash Pleasure and Virtue &ndash who offered him a choice between a pleasant life or a severe but glorious life, visited Heracles, in his youth, he chose the latter. One of his challenges was from King Thespius who wanted him to kill the Lion of Cithaeron. As a reward the King offered him the chance to impregnate each of his 50 daughters which he did in one night (sometimes referred to as the 13th labor). Later Heracles married Megara. Hera drove Heracles into mad fits causing him to kill Megara and their children. Heracles fled to the Oracle of Delphi who was guided by Hera unbeknownst to Heracles. He was directed to serve King Eurystheus for 12 years performing any task required of him. This resulted in the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

The first labor set by Eurystheus (Heracles&rsquo cousin) was to slay the Nemean Lion and bring back the skin. The lion was usually considered the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. The lion had been terrorizing the area around Nemea, and had a skin so thick that it was impenetrable to weapons. When Heracles first tackled it, his weapons &ndash bow and arrow, a club made from an olive tree (which he pulled out of the ground himself) and a bronze sword &ndash were all ineffective. At last Heracles threw away his weapons and wrestled the lion to the ground, eventually killing it by thrusting his arm down its throat and choking it or by some tales he broke its jaw. Heracles was becoming disappointed that he might not complete his first task due to struggling to skin the lion. Athena, in the guise of an old crone, helped Heracles realize the best tools to cut the hide were the creature&rsquos own claws allowing him to complete the first task. He would come to wear the hide as armor thereafter.

2. Destroy the Lernaean Hydra

The second labor was to destroy the Lernaean hydra, a sea-creature said to possess so many heads that the vase-painter couldn&rsquot paint them all and it had poisonous breath. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect him from the poisonous fumes. He then fired flaming arrows into the spring of Amymone, the creature&rsquos lair, to draw it out. Heracles, wielding a harvesting sickle, attacked the hydra. But as he cut off a head, he found two more grew in its place. Heracles then called on his nephew, Iolaus. His nephew then came to the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a burning firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after decapitation. The creatures own venomous blood was used to burn the heads so they could not grow back. When Eurystheus learned of Heracles&rsquo nephew helping, he declared that the labor had not been completed alone and did not count towards the ten labors set for him.

3. Capture the Ceryneian Hind (Scorpio)

Eurystheus was greatly angered to find that Heracles had managed to escape death on the previous two labors, so he decided to spend more time thinking up a third task that would spell doom for the hero. The third task did not involve killing a beast, as it had been established that Heracles could over come even the most fearsome opponents. Eurhstheus decided to make him capture the remaining Cerynian Hind. The hind was said to be so fast it could outrun arrows. Heracles noticed the hind on waking by the golden glint of its antlers. Heracles chased the hind on foot for a full year through Greece, Thrace, Istria and the land of the Hyperboreans. He captured the hind when it was unable to run any further. Eurystheus had given Heracles this task hoping to incite Artemis&rsquo anger at Heracles for his desecration of her sacred animal. As he was returning with the hind, Heracles encountered Artemis and her twin Apollo. He begged the goddess for forgiveness, explaining that he had to catch it as part of his penance, but promised to return it. Artemis forgave him. Upon bringing the hind to Eurystheus, he was told that it was to become part of the King&rsquos menagerie. Heracles knew he had to return the hind as promised, so he agreed to hand it over on the condition Eurystheus himself came out and took it from him. The King came out, but the moment Heracles let the hind go, it sprinted back to its mistress.

4. Trap the Erymanthian Boar

The fourth labor was to capture the boar. Heracles visited Pholus, a kind and hospitable centaur, on his way there. Heracles ate with him and then asked for wine. Pholus had only one jar, a gift from Dionysus, but Heracles convinced him to open it. The smell attracted the other centaurs that then became drunk on the undiluted wine and attacked. Heracles shot at them with his poisonous arrows causing those remaining to retreat to Chiron&rsquos cave. Pholus, curious about the arrows, picked one up but then dropped it stabbing his own foot. A stray arrow also hit Chiron, who was immortal. Heracles asked Chiron how to catch the boar. Chiron told him to drive it into thick snow. Chiron&rsquos pain from the arrow was so great he volunteered to give up immortality. Following the advice, Heracles caught the boar and brought it back to the King. Eurystheus became so frightened he ducked down in his chamber pot and begged Heracles to get rid of the beast.

5. Clean the Augean Stables (Capricorn)

The fifth labor was to clean the Augean stables in a single day. The reason it was set as a labor was to degrade him in the people&rsquos eyes since all the previous labors exalted Heracles and since the livestock were a divine gift therefore immune from disease the stable had never been cleaned making the amount of filth a surely impossible task. However Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth. Augeas was irate because he had promised Heracles one-tenth of his cattle if the job was finished in one day. He refused to honor the agreement. Heracles killed him after having completed the task and gave the kingdom to Augeas&rsquo son, Phyleus, who had been exiled for supporting Heracles against his father.

6. Kill the Stymphalian Birds (Sagittarius)

This labor was set to kill the man-eating birds. They were pets to Ares and had migrated to Lake Stymphalia to escape a pack of wolves. They bred quickly, taking over the countryside, destroying local crops and fruit trees. The forest they inhabited was dense and extremely dark. Athena and Hephaestus aided Heracles by forging huge bronze clappers. The clappers scared the birds into flight and Heracles shot them down with his arrows. The birds that survived never returned to Greece.

7. Capture the Cretan Bull (Taurus)

The seventh task had Heracles sail to Crete where Minos, King of Crete gave him permission to take the bull away. It had been wreaking havoc on Crete. Heracles strangled the bull and shipped it back to Athens. Eurystheus wanted to sacrifice the bull to Hera, who still hated Heracles. She refused the offering because it reflected glory on Heracles. The bull was then released to wander into Marathon. Some tales of this labor say Heracles was to kill the Minotaur.


8. Round up the Mares of Diomedes (Aquaries)

This labor was for Heracles to steal the Mares. In some tales Heracles brought Abderus, one of his male lovers and some other youths to help him. They took the mares and were chased by Diomedes and his men. Heracles was unaware that the mares were man-eaters and uncontrollable. He left Abderus in charge of them while he fought Diomedes. Abdera was eaten. In revenge, Heracles fed Diomedes to his own horses.

In another version, Heracles cut the chains binding the horses. Having scared them onto the high ground of a peninsula, Heracles quickly dug a trench through the peninsula, filling it with water, thus making it an island. When Diomedes arrived, Heracles killed him with the axe used to build the trench and fed the body to the horses. Eating made the horses calmer and Heracles took the opportunity to bind their mouths shut and easily took them back to Eurystheus. They were then set free to roam around Argos, having become permanently calmed.

9. Steal the Girdle of Hippolyta

The ninth labor was to obtain the girdle at the request of Admete, Eurystheus&rsquo daughter. Hippolyta was so intrigued by Heracles&rsquo muscles and lion skin, that she gave him the girdle without a fight.

10. Herd the Cattle of Geryon (Gemini)

Heracles was required to travel to Erytheia in order to obtain the Cattle of Geryon as his tenth labor. On his way there, he crossed the Libyan desert and became so frustrated with the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios, the Sun. Helios, in admiration of his courage, gave Heracles the golden cup he used to sail across the sea from west to east each night. Heracles used it to reach Erytheia. As soon as Heracles set foot on Erytheia, he was confronted with the two-headed dog, Orthrus. With one huge blow of his olive club, Heracles killed the watchdog. Eurytion, a herdsman, came to assist Orthrus, but Heracles dealt with him the same way. On hearing the commotion, Geryon came carrying three shields and three spears and wearing three helmets. He pursued Heracles at the River Anthemus but fell victim to an arrow that had been dipped in the Lernaean Hydra&rsquos venomous blood. The arrow was shot so forcefully by Heracles that it pierced Geryon&rsquos forehead. Heracles then herded the cattle back to Eurystheus. To annoy Heracles, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle causing them to scatter. Within a year, the hero was able to retrieve them. Hera then sent a flood, which raised the level of a river so much Heracles could not cross with the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. Eurystheus sacrificed the cattle to Hera.

11. Fetch the Apples of Hesperides

Eurystheus discounted two of Heracles&rsquo labor because he was aided or paid, so two additional labors were given. The first of these was to steal the apples from the garden of the Hersperides. Heracles first caught Nereus, the shape-shifting sea god, to learn where the garden was located. Heracles tricked Atlas into retrieving some of the golden apples for him by offering to hold up the heavens for a little while. Upon his return, Atlas decided that he did not want to take the heavens back and instead offered to deliver the apples himself. Heracles tricked him again by agreeing to take his place on the condition that Atlas relieved him temporarily so that Heracles could make his cloak more comfortable. Atlas agreed, but Heracles reneged and walked away.

The last of his labors, Heracles was to capture Cerberus from Hades. Hades was the God of the dead and ruler of the Underworld. After having been given the task, Heracles went to Eleusis to be initiated in the Eleusinian Mysteries so that he could learn how to enter and exit the underworld alive and in passing absolve himself for killing centaurs. He found the entrance to the underworld at Tanaerum. Athena and Hermes helped him to traverse the entrance in each direction. He passed Charon with Hermes&rsquo assistance and his own heavy and fierce frowning. While in the Underworld, Heracles freed Theseus but the earth shook when he tried to liberate Pirithous, so he had to leave him behind. They had been imprisoned by Hades because the attempted to kidnap Persephone and were magically bound to a bench. The magic was so strong that when Heracles pulled Theseus free, part of Theseus&rsquo thighs remained on the bench. Heracles presented himself before the throne of Hades and Persphone and asked permission to take Cerberus to which the gods agreed as long as Heracles did not harm the hound in any way. Some say Persephone gave her consent because Heracles was her own brother. Heracles then wrestled the hound into submission and dragged it out of Hades, passing through a cavern entrance in Peloponnese. When he returned with Cerberus to the palace, Eurystheus was so afraid of the fearsome beast that he jumped into the large storage jar to hide. From the spittle of the dog, which fell upon earth, the first poisonous plants were born including the deadly aconite.

This article is licensed under the GFDL. It uses material from the Wikipedia articles: Heracles


Contents

Mortals die, but gods live forever. Herakles was part mortal, part god. His father was the god Zeus and his mother was the mortal Alkmene. Zeus' wife Hera was the goddess of marriage. She hated Herakles because he was one of her husband's bastards. She tried many times to kill him, even when he was a baby. He lived in spite of Hera's persecution and hatred, and did many great deeds as a young man.

Herakles married Megara, the daughter of a king. They became the parents of several children. Hera caused Herakles to go mad and to kill his family. The priestess of Delphi ordered Herakles to serve his cousin King Eurystheus of Tiryns as a penance for this crime. Eurystheus would present a series of tasks to Herakles. These tasks were said to have been designed by Hera herself in the hope that they would kill Herakles.

There is no definite order for the Labors. Most of the time, however, the order is: Nemean Lion, Lernean Hydra, Cerynitian Hind, Erymanthian Boar, Augean Stables, Stymphalian Birds, Cretan Bull, Mares of Diomedes, Girdle of Hippolyta, Cattle of Geryon, Apples of the Hesperides, and Kerberos. The order here is that of the sculptures called metopes on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. These sculptures (made about 460–450 BC) were placed high on the outside of the temple in a frieze. Their order was described by the ancient Greek geographer, Pausanias. Some of these metopes are used in this article to illustrate the Labors. The first group of six metopes are from the west end of the temple. The second group of six are from the east end. Some of the illustrations here are taken from Greek vase paintings. The Labors of Herakles became the subject of much ancient and modern art, and even movies like Hercules (1958) starring Steve Reeves and the Walt Disney animated movie Hercules (1997).

Lion of Nemea Edit

A large and dangerous lion was terrorizing the people and animals near the city of Nemea. Weapons of iron, bronze, or stone could not pierce the lion's thick hide (skin). Eurystheus ordered Herakles to kill and skin this lion. [1]

Herakles went to the region of Nemea and stayed with a poor man named Molorchos at Kleonai. Molorchos' son had been killed by this lion. Molorchos wanted to sacrifice his only ram to Herakles, but Herakles asked him to wait thirty days. If he did not return within thirty days, the ram was to be sacrificed to him as a hero. If he returned within thirty days, the ram was to be sacrificed to Zeus the Deliverer. [2]

Herakles found the lion outside its lair on Mount Tretos. His arrows and sword were useless against the beast. He hit the lion with his club and the animal went into his lair. Herakles blocked one of the two openings to the cavern with nets, then entered the cavern. He wrestled the lion and choked it to death. The lion bit off one of his fingers. He returned to Molorchos' hovel with the lion's carcass on his back. The two men sacrificed to Zeus. [3]

When Herakles presented the dead animal to Eurystheus, the king was disgusted. He ordered Herakles to leave such things outside the gates of Tiryns in the future. Eurystheus then put a large bronze jar underground. This was the place where he would hide whenever Herakles returned to the city with some trophy of his Labors. Zeus put the lion among the stars as the constellation Leo. [4]

In the future, Eurystheus would only communicate with Herakles through Kopreus, his dungman. Herakles skinned the lion with one of its own claws. He wore the skin as a kind of armor and the lion's skull as a helmet. [5] Euripides wrote in his play Herakles:"First he cleared the grove of Zeus of a lion, and put its skin upon his back, hiding his yellow hair in its fearful tawny gaping jaws." [6]

The origin of the Nemean Lion is not certain. Some say he was the son of either Typhon or the Chimera and the dog Orthros. Some say the moon goddess Selene gave birth to the lion and let it fall to Earth near a two-mouthed cave at Nemea. She set it against the people because they had failed to properly observe her worship. Some say that Hera had Selene create the lion from sea foam and that Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, carried it to Nemea. [7] Others say the lion was the son of the snake goddess Echidna and her son, the dog Orthos. This would make the lion a brother to the Sphinx of Thebes. Hera was said to have brought the lion from the eastern land of the Arimoi and to have released it near Nemea. [8]

Hydra of Lerna Edit

The Hydra ("water-snake") was a monster with many heads. She lived beneath a plane tree near the spring called Amymone. This spring was near the seaside city of Lerna. She was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and the sister of Kerebos. [9] Hera raised the Hydra to torment Herakles. The Hydra had a dog-like body. [10] Its breath was poisonous. The head in the middle of the monster was immortal—it could not die. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to kill this monster. Herakles and his nephew Iolaos (the son of his brother Iphicles) drove to the swamp near Lerna in Herakles' war chariot. [11] Iolaos was Heracles' charioteer and his lover. [12]

Athena told Herakles to force the monster from the swamp with fire arrows. He did, but the monster twisted itself about his feet. He beat the heads with his club, but crushing one head only caused others to erupt. A great crab crawled from the swamp to help the Hydra. It bit Herakles in the foot. He crushed its shell. Herakles called Iolaos for his help and cut the Hydra's heads off with his sword. Iolaos sealed the neck stumps with torches so other heads could not grow in their place. [11]

The Hydra was at last killed. Herakles cut off the immortal head and buried it under a heavy stone in the road. He dipped his arrowheads in the Hydra's poisonous blood. They became deadly. [13] Back in Tiryns, Eurystheus would not count this adventure as a Labor because Herakles had had his nephew's help. He added another Labor to the list. Hera set the crab in the sky as a constellation. [14] [15] The river Anigrus in Elis stank because the Hydra's poison was washed from the arrows Heracles used to kill the centaur Nessus in its waters. [16]

Stymphalian Birds Edit

The Stymphalian Birds were man-eating birds living on the shores of Lake Stymphalos in north-eastern Arcadia. The birds were sacred to Ares, the god of war. Their feces poisoned the land and crops would not grow. The birds attacked men with their bronze beaks and claws. They could rain down their sharp bronze feathers to kill men and their animals. [17]

Herakles failed to drive them off with his arrows. Athena gave him a set of metal castanets (or a rattle) made by the blacksmith of the gods, Hephaestus. Herakles climbed to a rocky place over the lake and made so much noise with the castanets that the birds flew as far as the Isle of Ares in the Black Sea. Herakles was able to kill many of them with his arrows as they flew away. [17]

Some say the birds were women. Artemis Stymphalia ruled the swamps about the lake. Her temple there had pictures of young girls with the feet of birds. These girls lured men to their deaths in the swamps. They were said to be the daughters of Stymphalos and Ornis. These two were killed by Herakles when they would not give him food, drink, and a place to rest. [18] [19]

Cretan Bull Edit

The Cretan Bull rose from the sea. Poseidon, god of the sea, intended King Minos to sacrifice the bull, but it was so handsome that Minos kept it for himself. He sent it to mate with his cows, then sacrificed another bull to Poseidon. The god was angry and caused Minos' wife, Queen Pasiphaë, to develop a sexual desire for the animal. [20]

She mated with it and gave birth to a son. This son was the Minotaur, a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The Cretan Bull went mad. Heracules captured it by throwing a rope about its head and about a leg. Some say he wrestled it, or stunned it with his club. [20]

Minos let Heracules take the bull to Greece. Eurystheus wanted to give the bull to Hera but she would not take it because Heracules had captured it. She let it go and it wandered about Greece. Theseus of Athens finally captured it and sacrificed it to Athena, or some say, Apollo. [21] The bull had spent its days in Crete destroying crops and belching fire. [22]

Hind of Artemis Edit

When Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, was a child, she saw five hinds (female deer) grazing near the Anaurus River in Thessaly. Each was as large as a bull, each had hooves of bronze, and all had antlers of gold. She caught four of them, and used them to pull her chariot. The fifth escaped the goddess and lived on the Keryneian Hill in Arkadia. Hera planned to use this hind against Herakles someday. [23]

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to catch this hind and bring it alive to Tiryns. The danger in this Labor lay in pursuing the hind through wild lands from which no hunter ever returned. [24] Herakles hunted the hind for a year, chasing it through Istria and the Land of the Hyperboreans. The hind took refuge on Mount Artemision. Herakles let fly an arrow that pinned the hind's forelegs (front legs) together without drawing blood. He put the hind on his shoulders and took her back to Tiryns. [25]

Artemis and Apollo stopped Herakles on his way to Tiryns. On some vases, Apollo is seen trying to forcibly take the hind from Herakles. Herakles however lay the blame for the theft on Eurystheus. Artemis accepted this plea and allowed him to pass. [26] Some say Herakles used a net to capture the hind or captured her when she was asleep under a tree. [25]

Girdle of Hippolyte Edit

Eurystheus' daughter Admete was a priestess of Hera. [27] She wanted the Golden Girdle (belt) of Hippolyte, the Queen of the Amazons. This girdle had been a gift to Hippolyte from her father, Ares, the god of war. The Amazons were all related to Ares. They hated men and mated only to make more female warriors. Baby boys were killed or crippled. The lives of these women were devoted to war.

Herakles and friends sailed to their land of Pontos on the Black Sea. The Amazons lived at the mouth of the Thermodon River. [20] Hippolyte welcomed Herakles. She fell in love with his muscles and his great fame. She promised him the girdle as a love token. Hera disguised herself as an Amazon. She whispered among others that Herakles was going to kidnap the Queen. The Amazons charged Herakles' ship on horseback. Herakles killed Hippolyte, and took the girdle. Many Amazons were killed. [28]

Some say Hippolyte would not part with the girdle. Herakles threw her from her horse and threatened her with his club. She would not ask for mercy. Herakles killed her. [29] Some say Hippolyte's sister Melanippe was taken prisoner. She was ransomed with the girdle. Some say Hippolyte herself was taken prisoner and ransomed with the girdle. Others say Theseus took Hippolyte prisoner and gave the girdle to Herakles. [28] Herakles gave the girdle to Eurystheus, who gave it to Admete. [30]

Erymanthian Boar Edit

A large and dangerous boar was living on Mount Erymanthos. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to catch this boar. [31] On Mount Erymanthos, Herakles forced the boar from the wood with his shouts. He then drove the boar into deep snow and jumped on its back. He put the boar in chains, placed it on his shoulders, and took it to Eurystheus. The king was so scared he hid in his bronze jar. [32] [33] Herakles left the boar in the market square of Tiryns. He then joined the Argonauts on the Quest for the Golden Fleece. [34]

Mount Erymanthos took its name from a son of Apollo. Aphrodite blinded him because he saw her taking a bath. Apollo was angry. He turned himself into a boar and killed her boyfriend Adonis. [31]

Horses of Diomedes Edit

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to bring him the Horses of King Diomedes of Thrace. King Diomedes' horses were savage man-eaters, and were fed on the flesh of Diomedes' innocent guests. Herakles and his friends sailed to the coast of Thrace. Having found the stables of Diomedes, they killed the king's servants. They then put Diomedes before the horses. The animals tore him to pieces and ate him. The horses grew calm after feeding, and were led to the ship. Herakles sent them to Eurystheus. [35]

Diomedes was the son of Ares, the god of war, and the king of the Bistones, a Thracian tribe of warlike people. While travelling in connection with this Labor, Herakles visited King Admetos. His wife Alcestis had just died. Herakles wrestled Death for Alcestis and he won. Alcestis was returned to life. This event is the basis for Euripides' play Alcestis. Eurystheus dedicated the savage horses to Hera. They were said to have bred into the age of Alexander the Great.

Another story says Herakles captured the horses and drove them to his ship. Diomedes and his men chased the thieves. Herakles and his friends left the ship to fight the king and his men. The horses of Diomedes were left in the care of Abderos, Herakles' male lover. The horses ate him. Herakles built the city of Abdera in his memory. It was after this Labor that Herakles joined the Quest for the Golden Fleece. He dropped out of the search when his lover Hylas was lost on a strange island. Some say Herakles went on to Kolchis and rejoined the Quest. Others say he returned to Tiryns and the Labors. [36]

Cattle of Geryon Edit

Geryon was a very strong giant with three bodies, six hands, and three heads. He was the King of Tartessus in Spain. [37] He had wings, and the picture on his shield was an eagle. [38] He lived on an island called Erytheia. This island was far to the west in Okeanos, the river that circles the Earth. At night, the Sun sailed upon this river in a Golden Cup. [39]

Geryon had large herds of cattle. [39] They were watched over by Eurytion, Geryon's servant, and a huge two-headed dog named Orthrus, the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. [37] King Eurystheus ordered Herakles to capture Geryon's cattle. [39]

Herakles crossed the Libyan desert. At the narrow channel that separates Europe and Africa, he built the Pillars of Herakles. [40] The Sun was hot and Herakles threatened to shoot him with his bow and arrows. The Sun asked him not to do this. Herakles agreed. He borrowed the Sun's Golden Cup and sailed away in it. The Titan Oceanus tested Herakles' seamanship by causing violent waves. Herakles threatened to shoot Oceanus, too. Oceanus calmed the waves. Some say Herakles sailed in an urn and used his lion skin as a sail. [41]

On Geryon's island, Herakles killed the two-headed dog Orthos and the servant Eurytion, who tried to help the dog. Herakles was driving the cattle to the Golden Cup when Geryon appeared, ready to fight. Herakles shot him down and sailed away with the cattle. [42] Herakles had many adventures on his return to Greece. On the Greek coast, Hera sent gadflies to drive the herd of cattle far and wide. Herkales managed to round-up a few and these he presented to Eurystheus. He sacrificed them to Hera. [43]

Apples of the Hesperides Edit

Hera received golden apples as a gift when she married. She planted them in her garden far to the west near Mount Atlas. It was on this mountain that the Titan Atlas held the sky on his shoulders. He was being punished for having joined the other Titans in making war on Zeus. When Hera heard his daughters were stealing from the garden, she sent a one hundred-headed dragon called Ladon to the garden to protect the apples. Three nymphs called the Hesperides also guarded the apples.

Eurystheus wanted Herakles to bring him three golden apples. Herakles set off. The river god Nereus refused to give him directions and changed his shape again and again. Herakles tied him to a tree until he told the way. In the Caucasus, Herakles freed the Titan Prometheus, the fire-bringer, from his chains. Prometheus warned Herakles not to pick the apples himself, but to ask someone else to do it.

Herakles asked Atlas to pick the apples. The Titan agreed, but only if Herakles would kill the dragon and then take the sky on his shoulders. Herakles killed the dragon and took the sky on his shoulders. Atlas picked the apples but refused to take the sky again. He liked being free. Herakles tricked him. He asked Atlas to take the sky — only for a moment — while he put a cushion on his shoulders. Atlas took the sky. Herakles took the apples and headed for Tiryns. Eurystheus did not know what to do with the apples. He gave them to Herakles. Athena returned the apples to the garden, because they did, after all, belong to the gods. [44]

Kerberos Edit

Eurystheus ordered Herakles to bring him Kerberos, a three-headed dog-like monster with a dragon's tail and a mane of poisonous snakes. It guarded the entrance to the Underworld. The three heads could see the past, present, and future. Some say they represented birth, youth, and old age. [45] Kerberos allowed the dead to enter the Underworld, but anyone who tried to leave was eaten. [46] Kerberos was the offspring of Echidna, a monster part woman/part snake, and Typhon, a fire-breathing giant. Kerberos' brother was the two-headed dog Orthrus. [47]

Herakles' first step was to undergo the Mysteries of Eleusis. These rites would protect him in the land of the dead. They would also cleanse him of the massacre of the Centaurs. Athena and Hermes guided Herakles into the Underworld. He was ferried across the River Styx in Charon's boat. On the opposite shore, he met the Gorgon, Medusa. She was a harmless phantom and he passed her without trouble. He met Meleagros and offered to marry his sister, Deianeira. Eventually, he did. When Herakles asked Hades for Kerberos, Hades allowed him to take the monster, but only if he could do so without using his weapons. Herakles wrestled the monster and choked it. Once the monster had yielded, he led it away.

As they neared the Earth's surface, Kerberos tossed his three heads because he hated the sunlight. His spit flew in all directions. From that spit grew the poisonous plant, aconite. When Heracles arrived in Tiryns, Eurystheus was performing a sacrifice. The king gave the best cuts of meat to his relatives and only a slave's portion of meat to Herakles. Herakles was furious with this insult and killed Eurystheus' three sons. Eurystheus was terrified when presented with Kerberos and hid in his bronze jar. Herakles took Kerberos back to the Underworld. Another account says the monster escaped. [48] [49] [50] This Labor is the twelfth and last Labor in some accounts.

Augeian Stables Edit

King Augeias of Elis lived on the west coast of the Peloponnese. He was a son of Helios, the sun god. It was said that the rays of the sun shone in his eyes. [51] Augeias had many cattle. His animals were always healthy, and gave birth to many young. His stables had not been cleaned in years and were thick with animal waste. The valleys were also full of waste. The smell of this waste poisoned the land. Eurystheus ordered Herakles to clean the stables in a day. He liked the thought of Herakles doing such dirty work. [52]

Herakles went to Elis. He did not tell Augeias that Eurystheus had ordered him to clean the stables.Instead, he made a bargain with Augeias. He promised to clean the stables if Augeias would give him some of his cattle. The bargain was made. Augeias' son Phyleos acted as witness. Herakles set to work. First, he made two holes in the stone foundation of the stables. Then he changed the paths of the Alpheios and Peneios Rivers. The rivers were made to flow through one hole and out the other. This is how the stables were washed clean. [53]

Augeias learned from Eurystheus' servant Copreus that Eurystheus had ordered Herakles to clean the stables. [54] He would not respect the bargain he had made with Herakles. Herakles took the case to court. Phyleos was called to court and told the truth about the bargain. Augeias was so angry he drove his son and Herakles out of the land. Back in Tiryns, Eurystheus said that the Labor did not count because Herakles had made a bargain with Augeias. Eurystheus also thought that the river gods had really done the work. [55] [56]

This Labor was the last one presented in the frieze on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. It was important to the Greeks because one day Herakles made war on Augeias and defeated him. Herakles then laid out the Olympian sanctuary in the land of King Augeias and started the Olympic Games. [57] It was said that Menedemus of Elis gave Herakles advice on this Labor and that the hero had the help of his nephew Iolaos. [54] While Augeias and Herakles were making their bargain, Phaeton, one of Augeias' twelve white bulls, charged Herakles. These white bulls guarded all the cattle against wild animals. Phaeton thought the hero was a lion. Herakles forced the bull to the Earth by twisting its horn. [58] Herakles was going to get Augeias' daughter as part of the bargain, but he did not. This was given as one reason for making war later on Augeias. He was also going to become Augeias' slave if the work was not done in one day. [53]


The myth of Hercules: 12 labors in 8-bits – TED ed

The myth of Hercules: 12 labors in 8-bits by Alex Gendler (TED ed). Hercules, son of Zeus and champion of humankind, gazed in horror as he realized he had just committed the most unspeakable crime imaginable.

The goddess Hera, who hated Hercules for being born of her husband’s adultery, had stricken him with a temporary curse of madness. And his own family were the casualties. Consumed by grief, Hercules sought out the Oracle of Delphi, who told him the path to atonement lay with his cousin, King Eurystheus of Tiryns, a favorite of Hera’s.

The myth of Hercules 12 labors in 8-bits

Eurystheus hoped to humiliate Hercules with ten impossible tasks that pitted him against invincible monsters and unfathomable forces. Instead, the king set the stage for an epic series of adventures that would come to be known as the Labors of Hercules.

The first labor was to slay the Nemean Lion, who kidnapped women and devoured warriors. Its golden fur was impervious to arrows, but Hercules cornered the lion in its dark cave, stunned it with a club, and strangled it with his bare hands. He found no tool sharp enough to skin the beast, until the goddess Athena suggested using one of its own claws.

Hercules returned to Tiryns wearing the lion’s hide, frightening King Eurystheus so much that he hid in a wine jar. From then on, Hercules was ordered to present his trophies at a safe distance. The second target was the Lernaean Hydra, a giant serpent with many heads.

Hercules fought fiercely, but every time he cut one head off, two more grew in its place. The battle was hopeless until his nephew Iolaus thought to cauterize the necks with fire, keeping the heads from regrowing. The dead serpent’s remains became the Hydra constellation. Instead of slaying a beast, Hercules next had to catch one, alive.

The Ceryneian Hind was a female deer so fast it could outrun an arrow. Hercules tracked it for a year, finally trapping it in the northern land of Hyperborea. The animal turned out to be sacred to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and Hercules swore to return it.

When Eurystheus saw the hind, he demanded to keep it instead, but as soon as Hercules let go, the animal ran to its mistress. Thus, Hercules completed his task without breaking his promise. The fourth mission was to capture the Erymanthian boar, which had ravaged many fields. Advised by the wise centaur Chiron, Hercules trapped it by chasing it into thick snow. For the fifth task, there were no animals, just their leftovers.

The stables where King Augeas kept his hundreds of divine cattle had not been maintained in ages. Hercules promised to clean them in one day if he could keep one-tenth of the livestock. Augeas expected the hero to fail. Instead, Hercules dug massive trenches, rerouting two nearby rivers to flow through the stables until they were spotless.

Next came three more beastly foes, each requiring a clever strategy to defeat. The carnivorous Stymphalian birds nested in an impenetrable swamp, but Hercules used Athena’s special rattle to frighten them into the air, at which point he shot them down.

No mortal could stand before the Cretan bull’s mad rampage, but a chokehold from behind did the trick. And the mad King Diomedes, who had trained his horses to devour his guests, got a taste of his own medicine when Hercules wrestled him into his own stables. The ensuing feast calmed the beasts enough for Hercules to bind their mouths.

But the ninth labor involved someone more dangerous than any beast, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Hercules was to retrieve the belt given to her by her father Ares, the god of war. He sailed to the Amazon land of Themyscira prepared for battle, but the queen was so impressed with the hero and his exploits that she gave the belt willingly.

For his tenth labor, Hercules had to steal a herd of magical red cattle from Geryon, a giant with three heads and three bodies. On his way, Hercules was so annoyed by the Libyan desert heat that he shot an arrow at the Sun. The sun god Helios admired the hero’s strength and lent his chariot for the journey to the island of Erytheia.

There, Hercules fought off Geryon’s herdsman and his two-headed dog, before killing the giant himself. That should have been the end. But Eurystheus announced that two labors hadn’t counted: the Hydra, because Iolaus had helped Hercules kill it, and the stables, because he’d accepted payment. And so, the hero set about his eleventh task, obtaining golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides nymphs.

Hercules began by catching the Old Man of the Sea and holding the shape-shifting water-god until he revealed the garden’s location. Once there, the hero found the titan Atlas holding up the heavens. Hercules offered to take his place if Atlas would retrieve the apples. Atlas eagerly complied, but Hercules then tricked him into trading places again, escaping with apples in hand.

The twelfth and final task was to bring back Cerberus, the three-headed hound guarding the underworld. Helped by Hermes and Athena, Hercules descended and met Hades himself. The lord of the dead allowed Hercules to take the beast if he could do it without weapons, which he achieved by grabbing all three of its heads at once.

When he presented the hound to a horrified Eurystheus, the king finally declared the hero’s service complete. After 12 years of toil, Hercules had redeemed the tragic deaths of his family and earned a place in the divine pantheon. But his victory held an even deeper importance.

In overcoming the chaotic and monstrous forces of the world, the hero swept away what remained of the Titans’ primordial order, reshaping it into one where humanity could thrive. Through his labors, Hercules tamed the world’s madness by atoning for his own.

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King Eurystheus Hiding from Hercules - History

Initially, Hercules was required to complete ten labors, not twelve. King Eurystheus decided Hercules' first task would be to bring him the skin of an invulnerable lion which terrorized the hills around Nemea.


Nemea, Temple of Zeus and landscape
Overall view from SW
Photograph courtesy of the Department of Archaeology, Boston University, Saul S. Weinberg Collection

Setting out on such a seemingly impossible labor, Hercules came to a town called Cleonae, where he stayed at the house of a poor workman-for-hire, Molorchus. When his host offered to sacrifice an animal to pray for a safe lion hunt, Hercules asked him to wait 30 days. If the hero returned with the lion's skin, they would sacrifice to Zeus, king of the gods. If Hercules died trying to kill the lion, Molorchus agreed to sacrifice instead to Hercules, as a hero.


Hercules wrestling the Nemean Lion
Philadelphia L-64-185, Attic red figure stamnos, ca. 490 B.C.
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum

When Hercules got to Nemea and began tracking the terrible lion, he soon discovered his arrows were useless against the beast. Hercules picked up his club and went after the lion. Following it to a cave which had two entrances, Hercules blocked one of the doorways, then approached the fierce lion through the other. Grasping the lion in his mighty arms, and ignoring its powerful claws, he held it tightly until he'd choked it to death.


Hercules wrestling the Nemean lion
Mississippi 1977.3.62, Attic black figure neck amphora, ca. 510-500 B.C.
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the University Museums, University of Mississippi

Hercules returned to Cleonae, carrying the dead lion, and found Molorchus on the 30th day after he'd left for the hunt. Instead of sacrificing to Hercules as a dead man, Molorchus and Hercules were able to sacrifice together, to Zeus.

When Hercules made it back to Mycenae, Eurystheus was amazed that the hero had managed such an impossible task. The king became afraid of Hercules, and forbade him from entering through the gates of the city. Furthermore, Eurystheus had a large bronze jar made and buried partway in the earth, where he could hide from Hercules if need be. After that, Eurystheus sent his commands to Hercules through a herald, refusing to see the powerful hero face to face.


Hercules wearing the lion skin
Boston 99.538, Attic bilingual amphora, ca. 525-500 B.C.
Photograph courtesy,Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. H. L. Pierce Fund

Many times we can identify Hercules in ancient Greek vase paintings or sculptures simply because he is depicted wearing a lion skin. Ancient writers disagreed as to whether the skin Hercules wore was that of the Nemean lion, or one from a different lion, which Hercules was said to have killed when he was 18 years old. The playwright Euripides wrote that Hercules' lion skin came from the grove of Zeus, the sanctuary at Nemea:

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King Eurystheus Hiding from Hercules - History

This time Eurystheus gave Hercules the labor of traveling to Augean and cleaning the king of Augean's stables in a single day.

This doesn't seem like much of a task. Although these particular stables housed thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, and horses and the stable had not been cleaned in 30 years. The Augean king was said to have more cattle then any man in Greece.

When Hercules showed up he offered to clean the stables in a single day for 1/10 of the Augean king's entire cattle. Hercules didn’t say anything about how he was sent by Eurystheus or about his labors of redemption. The Augean King was so shocked at his fortune he agreed to pay Hercules IF he could do it in one day.

Hercules took the Augean king's son with him to witness the stables being cleaned. Hercules set to work tearing a big hole in the front of the stable yards. Next Hercules made a hole in the back wall of the stable yards. Hercules then dug a trench between 2 rivers flowing nearby. He then diverted the 2 rivers into the front of the stable yards and out the rear of the stable yards and back into the river with taking all the filth along with it.

Hercules returned to the Augean King to collect his payment. The Augean king had found out that Eurystheus had been the one to send Hercules and refused to pay him saying that if Hercules didn't agree he could always take the Augean King to court. So Hercules did just that. Hercules even had the Augean King's son testify that his father did indeed promise to pay Hercules 1/10 of all his cattle. The King reluctantly paid Hercules and then promptly banished him from his kingdom.

Hercules returned to Eurystheus to inform the king of the completion of Hercules labor. Word traveled fast, even for a time when they didn't have iPods, and Eurystheus had found out that Hercules was paid for his cleaning out of the stables, and therefore told Hercules that this labor (just like the 2nd labor ) didn't count and Hercules would have to complete yet another labor before he would be able to be forgiven and retire on Mount Olympus.


Watch the video: Hercules Kill The King Eurystheus Scene 24 - Hercules 2014. Dwayne Johnson. Movie Clip HD