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Greek Heroes

Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene and is the best known of the Greek heroes also known as Hercules in Roman mythology. The name Heracles means "Hera's Glory". Heracles came to be as Zeus needed a mortal champion in the war against the giants, he fathered Heracles with Alcmene the Theban queen. It was intended that Heracles would become the ruler but Hera frustrated Zeus's plans and Heracles become the slave of Eurystheus the king of Tiryns. Heracles then was struck by madness in the course of this Heracles killed his wife and their three sons. To atone for his terrible deeds he undertook what is known as the twelve labours of Heracles.

These labours were;

  • The killing of the Nemean lion which could not be harmed by arrows Heracles beat it with bare hands and a wooden club.
  • The battles against the Hydra at the swamps of Lerna. He had help from his nephew Iolaus.
  • Heracles had to capture the Ceryneian hind
  • Heracles captured the Erymanthian Boar which roamed the country of Arcadia
  • Cleaning of Augeas stables. He had vast herds of animals and there was much dung. Heracles achieved this by diverting the path of a river to wash the stables out.
  • Heracles had to remove the Stymphalian birds from Peloponnese, Heracles scared them away with a rattle which the goddess Athena made specially for Heracles.
  • On the Island of Crete Heracles had to track down the Bull and capture it and take it back to Tiryns, where he set it free.
  • Heracles had to subdue the man-eating mares of Diomedes he achieved this after he fed them there masters flesh.
  • Heracles had to fetch the girdle of Hippolyta from the Amazon queen
  • To capture the cattle of Geryon.
  • To bring back the golden apples of the Hesperides.
  • The final test was to go to the underworld and bring briefly back to Tiryns three headed hound Cereberus.

For completing his tasks Heracles gained immortality, none of the other heroes ever gained this honour. Heracles death on earth was caused by the Centaur Nessus who gave the heroes second wife a poisoned garment or Heracles to wear. Heracles realizing that his death was near consulted the Oracle at Delphic which told him to build a funeral pyre in Thessaly. When the time came Heracles climbed atop of the pyre and Zeus sent a bolt of lightening and lit, and Heracles took his place amongst the gods.