12 Labors of Hercules (Part 1/2)

My earlier post talked about the life of Hercules (a.k.a. Heracles).  After murdering his wife and children Hercules went to Apollos temple in Delphi to visit the Oracle. She  told him to serve the Eurystheus, king of Tiryns and, Mycenae, for twelve years, in punishment for the murders.  During this time Hercules had to perform twelve Labors, things so difficult that they seemed to be impossible.  The labors originally were ten but then grew to twelve. I am only putting the first 6 labors because its a lot to say.

Labor 1: The Nemean Lion 

Eurystheus commanded the hero to bring him the hide of the Nemean Lion, an invulnerable lion, which terrorized the hills around Nemea. At first, Hercules tried to shoot it with his arrows. This was unsuccessful due to the pelt being impenetrable, He proceeded to attacked the beast with his clubs. The lion ran and hid in a cave with two entrances. Hercules blocked the one entrance, and then wrestled with the lion. He managed to get his arms around it’s neck and strangled it. Hercules then skinned it and wrapped himself in its skin, after first offering a sacrifice to Zeus the Savior.He then returned to Mycanae with the lion thrown over his shoulder.

Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra 

A hydra is a monster with multiple heads. The Lernean Hydra was a monstrous serpent with nine heads that attacked with poisonous venom. The nine heads and venom was not the only difficult thing to get past, one of the nine heads was immortal.

The Hydra lived in the marshes of LernaIt devoured both animals and humans. HErcules was not along on this labor. He had the aid of his nephew, Iolaus, the son of his brother Iphicles and Automedusa. When they reached Amynone Spring, the monster’s hideaway Hercules had forced the hydra out by shooting flaming arrows into the lair. The Hydra wound its tail around Hercules’ foot and made it impossible for the hero to escape. Hercules attacked the heads with his club, but as soon as he smashed one head, two more would take its place. The hydra was not alone, he had a friend: a giant crab. The crab began biting the trapped foot of Hercules. Easily killing the crab, Hercules called on Iolaus to help him out. HE told his nephew burn each neck after he smashed or cut off a head. This prevented the growing of new heads.

After he killed the Hydra, Hercules dipped his arrows in its poisonous blood. Although Hercules completed this labor, Eurystheus refused to give him credit for it, because Hercules had the assistance of his nephew.

Labor 3: The Hind of Ceryneia 

Eurystheus ordered Hercules to shoot a deer and bring it back. However, this was a special deer, because it had golden horns and hoofs of bronze. Not only that, the deer was sacred to the goddess of hunting and the moon, Artemis. Hercules could neither kill the deer nor hurt her.

The deer roamed the hills of Cerynea between Arcadia and Achaea, in central Peloponnesus. After hunting for almost a year, Hercules finally found an oppertunity as it went to rest  at the river Ladon. Hercules shot her just as she was about to cross the stream. The deer was still alive, so he put her on his shoulders and turned back to Mycenae. As Hercules hurried on his way, he was met by Artemis and Apollo.

Artemis was furious with Hercules tried to kill her sacred animal. She was about to take the deer away  punished him, but Hercules told her the truth. He said that he had to obey the oracle and do the labors Eurystheus had given him. Diana let go of her anger and healed the deer’s wound. Hercules carried it alive to Mycenae.

Labor 4: The Erymanthean Boar 

Hercules was ordered to capture the boar that lived on the Mount Erymanthus. It ravaging the land of Psophis, attacking men and animals all over, gouging them with its tusks.

Hercules stopped to visit his friend Pholus before hunting the boar. Pholus was a centaur Hercules was hungry so the centaur cooked Hercules some meat in the fireplace, while he himself ate his meat raw. When Hercules asked for wine, Pholus said that he did not want to open the wine because it belong to all the centaurs. Hercules did not worry and opened the wine himself. Centaurs nearby smelled the wine and all came running, well galloping.  They were angry that someone was drinking all their wine.  They threw rocks and tree trunks at him. He shot at the rest of them with the arrows covered in hydra blood and chased after them for about twenty miles. One of the centaurs, Chiron, was hit and could not be healed.

Hercules first chased the boar out of its home by making as much noise as he can. This scared the boar and it hid into the forest. Hercules wounded it with his spear and pushed it into a snow covered ravine, he trapped it with a net and carried it back to the king.

Labor 5: The Augean Stables 

Eurystheus assigned Hercules as his sixth labor, to clean the stables of Augeias. Augeas was very rich, and he had many herds of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses. Hercules asked for one-tenth King Augeias animals as his fee for cleaning the stables, the king agreed, thinking that the task was impossible. Hercules was clever though. He diverted the Alpheius and Peneius rivers into the stables. The stables were cleaned quickly, but Augeias refused giving Hercules the animals they agreed upon. He insisted that Hercules had done it because Eurystheus had ordered him to and he didn’t need a payment. Eurystheus refused to give him credit for accomplishing the labor, saying that he had done it as a job for hire.

Labor 6: The Stymphalian Birds

Hercules next labor was to to drive away an enormous flock of birds which gathered at a lake near the town of Stymphalos. Athena came to him, providing a pair of bronze krotala, noisemaking clappers similar to castanets that were made by Hephastus. These birds had claws, beaks and wings of bronze and they were fed on both humans and animals. Hercules drove the birds far away from Arcadia: The noise of the clattering castanets frightened the birds, who flew as one into the air. Hercules shot with his arrows a great many of them, while the others quickly fled.


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