Sunday, 3 March 2013


Hercules 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.

Zeus, Hercules' father, was the most powerful of the gods. That meant Zeus could do anything he pleased, but it also meant that sometimes Zeus was not a very good husband to his wife, Hera, the queen of the gods

Zeus fell in love with a beautiful Greek woman named Alcmene [Alk-ME-ne]. When Alcmene's husband, Amphitryon, was away, Zeus made her pregnant. This made Hera so angry that she tried to prevent the baby from being born. When Alcmene gave birth to the baby anyway, she named him Herakles. (The Romans pronounced the name "Hercules," and so do we today.) The name Herakles means "glorious gift of Hera" in Greek, and that got Hera angrier still. Then she tried to kill the baby by sending snakes into his crib. But little Hercules was one strong baby, and he strangled the snakes, one in each hand, before they could bite him.

Hera remained angry. How could she get even? Hera knew that she would lose in a fight, and that she wasn't powerful enough to prevent Zeus from having his way. Hera decided to pay Zeus back for his infidelity by making the rest of Hercules' life as miserable as she could.

When Hercules grew up and had become a great warrior, he married Megara. They had two children. Hercules and Megara were very happy, but life didn't turn out for them the way it does in the movie. Hera sent a fit of madness to Hercules that put him into so great a rage, he murdered Megara and the children.

When Hercules regained his senses and saw the horrible thing that he had done, he asked the god Apollo to rid him of this pollution. Apollo commanded the hero to do certain tasks as a punishment for his wrongs, so that the evil might be cleansed from his spirit.

Apollo had many divine responsibilities. As Phoebus, he was the sun god, and every day he drove the chariot of the sun across the sky. He was the god of healing and music. Finally, Apollo was a god of prophecy: the Greeks believed that Apollo knew what would happen in the future, and that he could advise people how to act.

Hercules hurried to the temple where Apollo gave such advice. It was in the town of Delphi and was called the Delphic oracle. Apollo said that in order to purify himself for the spilling of his family's blood, he had to perform 10 heroic labors (this number would soon be increased to 12).

After he completed the 12 Labors, Hercules didn't just sit back and rest on his laurels. He had many more adventures.

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