Hercules (Myths and Legends of the World)
The greatest of all heroes in Greek mythology, Hercules was the strongest man on earth. Besides tremendous physical strength, he had great self-confidence and considered himself equal to the gods. Hercules (called Heracles by the Greeks) was not blessed with great intelligence, but his bravery made up for any lack of cunning. Easily angered, his sudden outbursts of rage often harmed innocent bystanders. When the fury passed, though, Hercules was full of sorrow and guilt for what he had done and ready to accept any punishment for his misdeeds. Only supernaturalrelated to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous forces could defeat him, and it was magic that ended his mortal life. In Greek mythology, only two figures with half-mortal, half-immortalable to live forever parentageercules and Dionysusecame fully immortal and were worshiped as gods.
Birth and Early Life. Hercules was the son of Zeusin Greek mythology, king of the gods and husband of Hera (Roman god Jupiter) and Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon, a distinguished Greek warrior and heir to the throne of Tiryns. One night while Amphitryon was away, Zeus came to Alcmena disguised as her husband. The next day, the real Amphitryon returned and slept with his wife. Concerned that Amphitryon did not remember being with Alcmena on both nights, the couple consulted the blind prophetone who claims to have received divine messages or insights Tiresias, who told them that Zeus had slept with Alcmena the first night and predicted that she would bear a child who would become a great hero.
Alcmena bore twin boysercules, the son of Zeus, and Iphicles, the son of Amphitryon. When the goddess Herat discovered that Zeus had seduced Alcmena and fathered Hercules, she was furious. Hera was fiercely jealous of Zeus's lovers and children and pursued them mercilessly. She tried to kill the infant Hercules by having two poisonous snakes placed in his crib one night. However, the infant grabbed the snakes and strangled them. Though Hera failed to kill Hercules, she persecuted him throughout his life, causing many of the events that led to his great suffering and punishments.
While still a young man, Hercules went to fight the Minyans, a people who had been forcing Thebesancient Egyptian city on the Nile River to pay tribute.payment made by a smaller or weaker party to a more powerful one, often under the threat of force As a reward for conquering the Minyans, the king of Thebes gave Hercules the hand of his daughter, Megara. Hercules was devoted to Megara and the three children she bore him.
One day after Hercules returned home from a journey, Hera struck him with a fit of madness during which he killed his wife and children. When he came to his senses, Hercules was horrified by what he had done. Devastated with sorrow and guilt, the hero went to the oraclepriest or priestess or other creature through whom a god is believed to speak; also the location (such as a shrine) where such words are spoken at Delphitown on the slopes of Mount Parnassus in Greece that was the site of Apollo's temple and the Delphic oracle to ask how he could atone for his misdeed. The oracleoraclepriest or priestess or other creature through whom a god is believed to speak; also the location (such as a shrine) where such words are spoken told him to go to King Eurystheus of Tiryns and submit to any punishment asked of him. The oracleoraclepriest or priestess or other creature through whom a god is believed to speak; also the location (such as a shrine) where such words are spoken also announced that if Hercules completed the tasks set before him, he would become immortal.
The Twelve Labors of Hercules. King Eurystheus gave Hercules a series of 12 difficult and dangerous tasks. Known as the Twelve Labors of Hercules, these were his most famous feats. The hero's first task was to kill the Nemean Lion, a monstrous beast that terrorized the countryside and could not be killed by any weapon. Hercules strangled the beast with his bare hands and made its skin into a cloak that made him invulnerable.incapable of being hurt
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