Hercules: God Among Men Essay

1085 words - 4 pages

Hercules, meaning glorious gift of Hera, was both the most famous hero of ancient times and the most beloved. More stories were told about him than any other hero. Hercules was worshipped in many temples all over Greece and Rome. His dangerous encounters and heroic acts began when he was a baby. He was born to Zeus, the King of all Gods, and Alcmene, a mortal Greek beauty. Hera, the Queen of Gods and Zeus's wife, hated Hercules because she was jealous of Alcmene (Hercules 1396).The first attempt Hera made was when baby Hercules was asleep, whereupon Hera sent two snakes into his crib. Hercules, being the strong courageous man, (child at the time) strangled each of the snakes, one in each hand. From that moment on, Hera knew she would not have an easy time dealing with Hercules. When Hercules grew up and had become a great warrior, he married Megara, and they had two children together. Hercules and Megara were very happy, but life didn't turn out for them the way it does in the Disney movie. Hera sent a fit of madness to Hercules that put him into such a great rage, that he murdered Megara and both children (Crane). When he regained his senses and realized what he had done, he begged in prayer to Apollo, the God of sun; prophecy; healing; and music, to purify his body of the terrible injustice he had committed. Apollo told Hercules that he must live in the servitude of his cousin Eurystheus, the King of Tyrins, for twelve years and do as he commands you. When he completed Eurystheus' tasks, known as The Twelve Labors, Apollo said Hercules would become immortal, and take his place atop Mount Olympus with the other Gods. The labors he was designated are Hercules' most well known actions due to the great difficulties involved in many of them.The first labor was to kill the lion of Nemea, a beast that no weapons could wound. That difficulty Hercules was easily able to overcome by choking the life out of it (Hamilton 164). After which he collected its hide and wore it as a cape over his head. His second labor was much more difficult. He was instructed to slay the Lernean Hydra, which had nine heads to fight against. Hercules set off to hunt the nine-headed menace, but he did not go alone. His trusty nephew, Iolaus, was by his side. Iolaus, who shared many adventures with Hercules, accompanied him on many of the twelve labors. Legend has it that Iolaus won a victory in chariot racing at the Olympics and he is often depicted as Hercules' charioteer. So, the pair drove to Lerna where they discovered the lair of the hideous hydra (Crane). To defeat the hydra, Hercules had to decapitate and sear each head to prevent the growth of new ones in their places. With the hydras immortal head, he severed it and buried it under a gigantic boulder.His third and fourth labors were to capture a stag with golden horns, sacred to Artemis, and to capture a wild boar living atop Mount Erymanthus. These he completed with little difficulty. The fifth labor was to clean the...

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