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HERACLES – The 12 Labors Of Hercules

HERACLES – In this topic, we will talk about the Greek hero Hercules and the 12 labors he face as atonement and redemption for his crimes.

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Heracles, also widely known in his Roman name as Hercules, is the son of the Greek god of thunder Zeus and Alcmene of Alcmena.

Hercules was well known for his 12 labors as ordered by King Eurystheus of Tyrins, his cousin. This is because Hercules, in a fit of madness that Hera temporarily struck him, killed his wife and children.

With the motive of humiliating Hercules, Eurystheus gave him 10 impossible labors where Hercules has to face ten impossible monsters of unfathomable forces.

The Labors of Hercules

1. Slay the Nemean Lion

Hercules was tasked to kill the lion that is terrorizing Nemea with his bare hands. He killed the lion by striking it with a club and strangled it with his bare hands. As a show of power, he made a cloak out of the lion and present it to his cousin, in which Eurystheus was frightened and hid in a jar.

2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra

The hydra is a fire-breathing monster with a lion’s head and a body of many snakes. If you cut one head, two will follow. Hercules succeeded with the help of his nephew Iolaus by chopping all the heads followed by adding fire to the wounds, thus, nullifying the heads’ regrowth.

3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis

This took Hercules one year to complete. This is the first labor where it doesn’t involve slaying. Hercules promised Artemis to return it after he captured the hind and so he died right after he present it to Eurystheus.

4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar

Another time-consuming task. He was tasked to capture the marauding boar and send it to Mycenae, in which he succeeded.

5. Clean the Augean stables in a single day

Hercules was tasked to clean the stables of King Augeus’ cattle, which hasn’t been maintained for over a year. He succeeded by digging trenches that lead to the rivers Alpheios and Panelos, which then made the stables clean. he accepted one-tenth of he livestock as payment right after.

6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds

The man-eating birds were slayed by Hercules when he used the rattle given to him by the goddess Athena to frighten the birds that he shot afterwards.

7. Capture the Cretan Bull

The bull laid waste to the lands round Knossos on Crete. Hercules captured the bull by a chokehold from behind.

8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes

King Diomedes trained his horses to devour the guests. Hercules succeeded the task when he made Diomedes have a taste of his own medicine by throwing him into the horses. He bind the horses’ mouth shut afterwards.

9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons

He was tasked to obtain the girdle from Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons. Most of the versions say that the queen gave the belt willingly because she was impressed of his ventures.

10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon

He was tasked to gather the herd of the three-headed giant Geryon, the two-headed dog Orthrus, the herdsman Erytion. He succeeded by hitting the herdsman and the dog with the club and shot Geryon in the head with the poisoned arrow.

The labors should be complete but Eurystheus did not count the two labors because of the following:

  • The 2nd labor because he received help from his nephew; and
  • The 5th labor because he received payment

And so, there are 2 more labors he has to succeed:

11. Steal the golden apples of the Hesperides

In order to do so, Hercules has to find that garden. He did by capturing the shape-shifting water god Nereus and asked him for the location. Then, he found Atlas and asked him to retrieve the apples in his stead while Hercules hold the sky. When Atlas retrieved the apples, Hercules tricked him to trade places.

12. Capture and bring back Cerberus

The last labor. he was tasked to go into the underworld and capture the three headed dog Cerberus. Hades allowed Hercules to get the dog, if he can do it without weapons. He succeeded by grabbing the neck of all three heads at once.

After completing all twelve labors, Eurystheus declares the hero’s service completed and redeemed him.

Check out Ted’s take of Heracles and his 12 labors.


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