Greek Mythology: Hercules
is best known as the strongest of all mortals, stronger than many gods. He was
the last mortal son of Zeus and was the only man born of mortal woman to become
a god upon his death.
Zeus was not always a good husband to his Queen, Hera. He had an affair with a beautiful woman named Alcmene and made her pregnant. She gave birth to Hercules. The infidelity enraged Hera, who would forever despise Hercules. A few months after his birth, Hera put two serpents in his cradle, but the prodigious infant promptly strangled them. When he was a young man, Hercules defended
After he had recovered his sanity, for 12 years he sought purification at the court of King Eurystheus of
After his labors were completed, Hercules was involved in many other adventures and combats, including the famous Argonaut expedition.
When the centaur Nessus seized his second wife, Deianira,, Hercules killed Nessus with arrows dipped in the poisonous blood of the Hydra. As he died, Nessus told Deianira that blood from his wound would restore Hercules' love for her if ever it were to die. Years later, Deianira did indeed feel that her husband was growing tired of her and so sought to win back her husband's love. She contrived to have him wear a robe smeared with the blood. The robe stuck to Hercules' skin, burning him unbearably. In agony, he built a huge pyre atop Mt Oite and had it set afire. His mortal parts burned away, but the rest rose to heaven, where he was finally reconciled with Hera and married Hebe.
Although worshipped as a god, Hercules was properly a hero, with people frequently coming to him for protection from various evils. Hercules is often portrayed as a powerful, muscular man wearing a lion's skin and carrying a huge club. Perhaps the most famous statue of him is in the
Why It Is a Myth: The Story of Hercules is a myth since it is a very ancient story that shows the cultural beliefs in a specific civilization, in this case the Greeks. The story of Hercules is also a sort of fictional character that has is seem as a possible hero in the Greek Culture.