Greek Myths: Hercules

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By Nika Abdolhosseini

Narrative First Retold By Perseus Digital Library

There are many Greek myths that all originate from other myths. The myth of Hercules is one of the most well known myths that is told is numerous ways. The most accurate version of Hercules is told in the encyclopedia of Greek myths. Hercules is the son of Zeus and Alcmene. Alcmene was a beautiful Greek woman that was impregnated by Zeus while Zeus was married to Hera, another Greek god. Hera was so devastated by the news that her husband had cheated on her that she did everything in her power to kill Hercules. Once Hera realized killing Hercules was too hard of a task, she decided to kidnap him and put him on Earth to be raised by a family of mortals. Since Hercules was given down on Earth at a young age, he never knew he belonged with the gods. hercules_2.jpg

Throughout his life, Hercules knew he was different than all the other children around him. He was known for his strength, taking after his father, Zeus. Later in life, Hercules married to a beautiful Greek woman, Megara, and had two children. He became a great warrior but, he felt he was belonged somewhere better because of his strengths. He felt he did not belong with the mortal because he was different than all of them in the sense that he was much stronger. “The goddess, Hera determined to make trouble for Hercules, made him lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children.” (Perseus p. 11) Throughout his life, Hera was still haunting him and making his life miserable. She wanted to seek revenge upon Zeus for making Alcmene pregnant and did so by manipulating Hercules to kill his family. Hercules had asked the god Apollo to rid him of these sins. Apollo told Hercules the only way he would do so is by Hercules accomplishing twelve tasks. Apollo told Hercules that if he accomplishes these twelve tasks, not only would he rid him of these sins, but also make him immortal.

The twelve tasks were not easy for Hercules to accomplish. The first one was to bring the king the skin of an invulnerable lion which terrorized the hills aroundNemea. Second was to kill the Lernean Hydra. From the murky waters of the swamps near a place called Lerna, the hydra would rise up and terrorize the countryside. Third, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the Hind of Ceryneia. Ceryneia is a town inGreece, about fifty miles from Eurystheus' palace inMycenae. Forth, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the Erymanthian boar alive.

fronth.jpg Fifth, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up King Augeas' stables. Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Sixth, Hercules was to drive away an enormous flock of birds which gathered at a lake near the town ofStymphalos. Seventh, was to dispose of the Cretan Bull. Eighth, Eurystheus sent him to get the man-eating mares of Diomedes, the king of a Thracian tribe called the Bistones, and bring them back to him inMycenae. Ninth, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the belt of Hippolyte. Tenth, Hercules had to journey to the end of the world. Eurystheus ordered the hero to bring him the cattle of the monster Geryon. Eleventh, Eurystheus commanded Hercules to bring him golden apples which belonged to Zeus, king of the gods. The twelfth which was the last tasks for Hercules, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to go to the Underworld and kidnap the beast called Cerberus. Eurystheus must have been sure Hercules would never succeed at this impossible task. Finally, after eight long years and some odd months, Hercules had completed all twelve tasks that Apollo had agreed to and Hercules became immortal.

In conclusion, the story of Hercules is told in many ways, but the simple most basic and common version is told in the encyclopedia of Greek myths. Hercules redeemed himself to Apollo and to the other gods that he deserved to be immortal and he rid himself of all of his sins. It was not an easy task for him but after eight long years, he completed it.



Interpretation By Nika Abdolhosseini

Hercules is a very well known Greek myth that is told in numerous ways. I believe the story of Hercules is best told in the encyclopedia of Greek myths. In this version of Hercules, it describes where Hercules came from, why he became mortal, and why he returned to the Greek Gods after his child hood. There are many interpretations of Hercules, but the version written in the encyclopedia seems to be the version that is well known and majority of view points about Hercules are based on the same idea.

Hercules was born immortal as the son of Zeus and Alcmene, a mortal. At the time, Zeus was married to a god named Hera. Hera was not happy about the birth of Hercules and was extremely jealous. During Hercules’s life growing up, Hera put many obstacles in his path that were a challenge for Hercules everyday and because of this, Hercules felt he did not belong in the mortal. Hercules was taken away by his mother and father as a child and later raised by a family of mortals. After his child hood had past and he was heading to adult hood, Hercules realized he was meant to be a god. He then headed to mount Olympus to prove himself worthy enough to be a god. It is later revealed that he is son of Zeus and Alcmene. When he had come of age and already proved himself an unerring marksman with bow and arrow, a champion wrestler and the possessor of superhuman strength, Heracles was driven mad by the goddess Hera.” (Hercules Encyclopedia par. 3-4) Hercules struggled with the obstacles the Hera put in his way but over came them because he is a true god.hecules_1.jpg

In other versions of the story of Hercules, many believe that Hates, the brother of Zeus, was the one who was jealous of Hercules being brought in as an immortal and was always jealous of Zeus. Out of jealousy, Hates was the one who kidnapped Hercules from his family and sent him to live with a family of mortals as a child. In this version Hates was also the one who cursed bad luck upon Hercules while he was growing up. In the end of this version, Hercules had made it to mount Olympus and proved himself to all the gods that he truly was a god and deserved to live on mount Olympus along with the other gods. He also wants to bring his love, Megara who was a mortal as well, along with him.

In conclusion, there are numerous version of the story about Hercules. The one that seems to be the most accurate and is the most well known is the one that is written in the encyclopedia of Greek myths. It is based on the facts that somehow all of the Greek gods are some how put into the story.

Work Cited By Nika Abdolhosseini==== ====
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/labors.html=== ===