Hercules (Greek-Heracles) was the demi-god son of Jupiter (Greek – Zeus) and the most beautiful of all women, Alceme. Hercules attributes included a lion skin and a gnarled club that was his favorite weapon. Throughout his career as a hero, he killed many monsters and made the world safer for mankind.
Juno hated the children of Zeus that were not hers and often gave them trouble. When Hercules was born, Juno slipped snakes into his cradle. Hercules killed the snakes with his massive strength. During his adult life, Juno sent Hercules into a blind rage in which he killed wife and children. Hercules consulted the Oracle of Delphi (we’ll visit her in a few days) for expiation. The Oracle sent him to Eurystheus, the king of Mycenae, who (with the spiteful assistance of Juno) assigned him a set of impossible tasks that became known as the Labors of Hercules which took 12 years. His labors included killing the Nemean lion, destroying the Lernaean Hydra, capturing the Ceryneian Hind, trapping the Erymanthian boar, cleaning the Augean stables, destroying the Stymphalian birds, capturing the Cretan bull, rounding up the Mares of Diomedes, taking Hippolyte’s girdle, returning the cattle of Geryon, delivering the golden apples of the Hesperides, and capturing the Cerberus from Tartarus.
After Hercules was married the second time, he killed the centaur Nessus with a poisoned arrow for abducting his wife. Before Nessus died, he gave Hercules’ wife Deianeira a vial of blood and told her that the blood was a love potion that would bring Hercules back to her when he strayed. When she suspected he had been unfaithful, she sent him a cloak that had the blood spread in it. When he donned the cloak, the blood burned like acid and destroyed his body. Hercules died in horrific pain. He was taken to Olympus and deified. His wife committed suicide in despair.
Tomorrow, The Heroes of the Trojan War Rita Bay