What is the meaning of the myth "the twelve labors of Hercules"?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Actually, while there are meanings to many aspects of Hercules himself—he's one of the many heroes who is half man, half god, his temper serves as a warning against excess passion—I'm going to argue that the labors themselves don't mean much as a group. Oh, individual ones give lessons: the stables would take too long (and smell too bad) to clean in person, so he diverts a stream, showing the value of original thinking, etc. However, for the most part, the labors are tall tales: stories told for fun about a hero, like the stories kids watch about Superman.