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HERCULES

Real Name: Heracles (Alcaeus is his birth name)

Occupation: Adventurer, God of strength and labors, Movie actor, former Circus Strongman

Legal Status: Citizen of Olympus with a provisional United States citizenship due to his Avengers status

Identity: The general populace of Earth does not believe in the existence of Hercules except as a mythological character.

Other Aliases: Champion, The Lion of Olympus, The Son of Zeus, Harry Cleese, Hercules Reason, Kevin Sorbo (mortal identities),

Place of Birth: Thebes, Greece

Marital Status: (Hebe) Separated, (Deianeira) Widowed, (Megara) Divorced

Known Relatives: Zeus (father), Alcmene (mother, deceased), Amphitryon (step-father, deceased), Pylius (adoptive father, deceased), Licymnius (uncle, deceased), Poseidon, Hades (uncles), Electryon (maternal grandfather, deceased), Hera, Demeter, Hestia (aunts), Ares, Apollo, Dionysus, Hermes, Hephaestus (half-brothers), Iphicles (half-brother, deceased), Argeius, Melas, Oenonus (cousins, deceased), Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, Eileithyia, Discord (half-sisters), Megaera (first wife, deceased), two unnamed sons, a daughter by Megaera (deceased), Deianeira (second wife, deceased), Hebe (half-sister/third wife, separated), Iolaus (nephew, deceased), Macaria (daughter, deceased), Alexiares, Anicetus (sons by Hebe), Telephus (son by Auge, deceased), Hyllus (son by Deianeira, deceased), Ctessipus (son by Deidameia, deceased), Lamus (son by Omphale, deceased), Cleodaius (son by unknown servant girl, deceased), Tlepolemus (son by Astyoche, deceased), Scythes, Gelonus, Agathyrsus (sons by unknown priestess, deceased), Celtus (son by Celtina, deceased), fifty unnamed sons by the daughters of King Thespius (all deceased), Hylas (foster son, deceased); Argos, Arimathes (alternate future sons), Bombshell (alternate future daughter), Cronus (grandfather), Rhea (grandmother), Gaea (great-grandmother), Ouranus (great-grandfather), Perseus, Pelops, Tantalus, Lynceus, Epaphus (ancestors, deceased); Gilgamesh (alleged ancestor, possibly deceased)

Group Affiliations: The Gods of Olympus, The Avengers, formerly The Champions of Los Angeles, The Defenders, Heroes For Hire and the Argonauts,

Base of Operations: Olympus also Mobile, formerly Thebes, Tiryns, Calydon and Trachis

First Appearance: Journey Into Mystery Annual #1

History: Hercules is the son of Zeus, the king of the gods of Olympus, and Alcmene, a mortal woman related to the Mycenaean monarchy in the 13th Century BC. Recognizing the need for a son who would be powerful enough to defend both humanity and the Olympian gods from future dangers he foresaw, Zeus seduced Alcmene in the guise of her husband, General Amphitryon of Thebes, while her husband was away at war for King Creon of Thebes. Jealous over Zeusís infidelity, Hera sent her daughter Eileithyia to delay the hour of Hercules birth long enough for his cousin Eurystheus to be born and inherit the throne of Mycenae. As Alcmene came near death, her servant, Galanthis, prematurely screamed out the birth of her son and distracted Eileithyia. Eileithyia startled by the announcement rushed to investigate and in her haste, broke the spells forestalling Herculesís birth. Hercules and his mortal twin-brother Iphicles were born as a result and Eileithyia transformed Galanthis into a weasel for her impertinence.

Hera meanwhile made another attempt to kill Alcmeneís son, but Herculesí extraordinary strength was already apparent as he demonstrated before he was even one year old by strangling two serpents sent by Hera to slay him. Hera would prove to be one of his fiercest opponents of the succeeding millennia.

According the myth, Alcmene named her son after Alcaeus, her father, one of the sons of the Argive hero, Perseus, but fearful of Heraís wrath given her reputation with Zeusís other paramours, she deserted her son by Zeus by exposing him on a mountainside. Athena meanwhile found him and persuaded the unsuspecting Hera to nurse him. Hera did so unsuspectingly until Hercules bit her. Realizing what had happened, Hera tossed Hercules aside and Athena returned him to Alcmene telling her that his name was Heracles because he had earned Heraís hatred. In later years, this name was altered to Hercules.

Herculesí education was developed under the wise Centaur named Chiron. Many of Chironís students became Hercules closest friends. The wily thief Autolycus taught him to wrestle and Eurytion, heir to the throne of Oechalia, taught him the use of bows and arrows. Castor showed him the art of fencing, but Hercules never cared for swordplay. Hercules cared even less for music and in a fit of frustration while learning music, he accidentally killed Linus, the aged son of Apollo, by cracking his lyre over the old manís head.

By the age of seventeen, Hercules was at least six feet tall and quite adept with a bow and arrow. He knew how to use his strength to its fullest and killed a lion that had been roaming Mount Cithaeron and eating the flocks of King Creon and King Thespius. Hercules even made a pelt from the lionís skin to wear as a tunic. Thespius meanwhile insisted that his fifty daughters each sleep with Hercules to produce him heirs. Staying as a guest of the king for fifty days, Hercules unwittingly slept with each daughter unaware of the true traffic in his room and imagined he was only indebted to one of Thespiusís daughters.

Returning home, Hercules met heralds from Orchomenus on their way to collect an annual tribute from Thebes and cut off their ears and noses to hang from the necks of the heralds. The act of disrespect infuriated King Erginus of Orchomenus against Thebes, but Hercules rallied the youth of Thebes against the armies of King Erginus and burned his palace to the ground to sack the city. Afterward, Orchomenus had to pay double tribute back to Thebes.

King Creon of Thebes became grateful to Hercules for his deeds and allowed him to marry his daughter, Megaera. They had several sons, but upon returning from war with the Minyans, the battle-fatigued Hercules slew his sons after mistaking them for enemy soldiers who had entered his home. Megaera was horror struck at the act not realizing it had been an illusion created by Hera. Hercules left Thebes to be purified of the murders by King Nausithous of Drepane. During his stay here, Hercules slept with a minor goddess named Melite and she bore him a son named Hyllus (not to be confused with Hyllus, Herculesí son by Deianeira). Hercules then went to Delphi where the oracle revealed to him that he was the son of Zeus and revealed as well that as punishment he had to carry out whatever ten labors his weak cousin King Eurystheus imposed upon him. If Hercules carried out these ten labors, he would gain immortality.

King Eurystheus dispatched Hercules on his first labor to slay the Nemean Lion, a spawn of Typhon and Echidna. Hercules found it to be invulnerable to weapons and had to kill it by strangulation. On his route to kill the lion, Hercules had stayed the night with a poor laborer named Molorchus who wanted to make a sacrifice to him as the son of Zeus. Hercules had told him to wait until he was successful, but after the lionís death, Molorchus sacrificed to Hercules. As Hercules brought the dead lion to Eurystheus in Mycenae, the cowardly king hid in a bronze storage jar. He then arranged for Hercules to take all his orders through a messenger named Copreus. Not wanting anything to do with the lionís carcass, Eurystheus allowed Hercules to skin it. Hercules turned its pelt into another tunic to replace his previous one.

Eurystheus then sent Hercules on his second labor to kill the nine-headed Hydra, which dwelled in the swamp at Lerna. Driving it out of the swamp with burning arrows, he quickly learned it grew two new heads for each one severed. With the help of Iolaus, son of Iphicles, Hercules used heated brands to cauterize each head and prevent new heads from forming. Burning the rest of the creatureís body, he collected enough of its venom to dip its arrows within and render them that much more potent.

Eurystheus then sent Hercules on his third labor to capture alive a Cerynithian stag, a deer sacred to Artemis, hoping he would earn dishonor from the goddess for harming it. Hercules pursued it for a full year and finally subdued it in Arcadia when it stopped to drink by the river Ladon by sneaking up and throwing a net over it. Apollo and Artemis appeared to stop him as he tried to carry it back to Mycenae. Artemis tried to take the deer from him, but Hercules appeased her by laying the blame on Eurystheus. She permitted him to carry the unharmed deer back to Mycenae where it was released once more unharmed. 

Hercules was then sent back to Arcadia by Eurystheus on his fourth labor to capture alive the Erymanthian Boar ravaging the city of Psopkis near Mount Erymanthus. On his way to Arcadia, Hercules was a guest of the centaur Pholus, but upon smelling the wine being served, the other centaurs behaved badly and Hercules drove them off. Pholus was accidentally grazed by one of Herculesí arrows dipped in the blood of the Hydra during the melee and suffered from several years afterward from this wound because of his immortality. Hercules applied medicines to him to waylay the pain for the time and then went on to capture the Erymanthian boar. Trapping the boar in deep snow on the mountain, he took it to King Eurystheus who again hid in a jar on his approach.

During this labor, Hercules had heard that Jason had called upon every hearty young man to become Argonauts in a quest for the golden fleece, Hercules could not bear to be left out and joined the adventure even going as far as favoring Jason as leader in the endeavor. Hercules took the young man Hylas as his ward and spurred the Argonauts on into the quest when they became distracted at Lemnos. With the Argonauts, he slew giants that attacked them at the Port of Fair. In Mysia, however, Hylas was abducted by faerie spirits, which presided in a local well. Hercules refused to depart without him and departed the Argonauts to find him. Jason refused to leave without him, but Zetes and Calais spurred him on. Hercules contracted an oath from the Mysians to always search for Hylas.

Hylasí departure had been engineered by Zeus to remind Hercules of his labors, and Eurystheus angry at Herculesís temporary defection assigned him the fifth labor of cleaning out the vile stables of King Augeas of Elis. The dung was so thick across the land that it was almost untellable. Hercules even went as far as bargaining with Augeas that he could clean the stables within one day if Augeas would give him one tenth of the cattle as payment. Not trusting Augeas, Hercules had Augeasí son, Phyleus, witness the wager. Hercules then redirected the Alpheus and Peneius Rivers through the land to clean it. Augeas refused to honor the wager and exiled his son Phyleus to keep him from testifying against him. Vowing revenge, Hercules became a guest of King Dexamenus of Olenus. He killed the Centaur Eurytion to keep him from marrying the kingís daughter out of request.

Eurystheus meanwhile did not count that labor because Hercules had tried to get payment for it. He sent Hercules to slay the Stymphalian birds raised by Ares the war-god and taught to eat human flesh. The birds had made Lake Stymphalus in Arcadia their home in order to avoid the wolves, but Hercules espoused them from the area with noises from brass castanets created by Hephaestus for Athena. Athena lent them to Hercules for the occasion and with the birds in retreat, Hercules shot them out of the sky.

For his seventh labor, Hercules was sent out of the Peloponessus for the first time by Eurystheus who hoped he would meet dire ends in foreign lands. Sent to Crete, Hercules was sent to slay the Cretan Bull, which had fathered the Minotaur and was now terrorizing the island. The bull had become an embarrassment to King Minos because of his dealings with it. Minos gave Hercules permission to Hercules to slay it, but Hercules instead brought it to Mycenae and freed it there out of spite.

Eurystheus proved to be just as vindictive by sending Hercules to Thrace on his eighth labor to claim the man-eating mares of King Diomedes. During his journey, Hercules stayed for lodgings with King Admetus as his wife Alcestis was being buried upon her death. She had given her life up for her husband, but Hercules fought Thanatos, the grim reaper himself, in order to get the god of dead to free her from taking his place in the afterlife. Alcestis returned to life as a result. A young man named Abderus joined Hercules with several volunteers to help drive the man-eating mares into the sea, and Diomedes and his soldiers then attacked Hercules. The mares ate Abderus while Hercules was distracted, but Hercules tamed the mares by throwing them their own master, Diomedes, to feast upon. The act repulsed the Thracian army and Hercules brought the tamed mares to Mycenae and abandoned them there.

Admete, daughter of Eurystheus, meanwhile, heard of the golden belt of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons, and Eurystheus sent Hercules to fetch it for her. Accompanied by Theseus and a team of companions, Hercules sailed east for the land of the Amazons. On the way, Hercules and his hearty band stopped at Paros for supplies and were attacked by the Parians. He took hostage Alcaeus and Sthenelus, two grandsons of Cretan King Minos who had ruled the island in the siege in order to quell the attack. Herculesí voyage to the land of the Amazons remained uneventful until he reached Mysia where Lycus, King of the Mariandyni, treated him royally. Hercules repaid his kindness by slaying King Mygdon, King of the Bebryces, and surrendered his land to Lycus. Lycus renamed the land Heracleia out of his generosity.

Hercules reached Themiscyra without incident and encountered Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and received her golden belt without incident, but Hera frustrated by the ease of this encounter incited the Amazons against the invaders. Hippolyta was erroneously reported as killed and battle and Theseus abducted Hippolytaís sister, Antiope, as a bride when she surrendered herself to prevent further bloodshed.

On Herculesí homeward journey home, King Laomedon of Troy beseeched him for help rescuing his daughter, Hesione, who had been promised as a sacrifice to a sea serpent named Delphyne over an insult to the god Apollo. Hercules promised to save the girl, but he wanted Hesione and Laomedonís prize mares as a reward. Laomedon promised, but once his daughter was safe, he reneged on the deal. The betrayal incensed Hercules, but not having enough of a force after the Amazons to claim his payment, he backed off. On the journey home, Hercules was warmly received by King Poltys of Thrace. He abandoned his Parian refugees on the nearby island of Thasus which Alcaeus and Sthenelus then claimed as their own. At the port of Torone, Hercules was challenged to a wrestling match by Polygonus and Telegonus, sons of the sea-god Nereus and killed them both. He then returned to Mycenae to present Hippolytaís belt to Admete where a very frustrated Eurystheus once again sought more means to lead Hercules to his death. Always desiring the cattle of King Geryon of Erytheia (modern Cadiz, Spain), he dispatched Hercules to retrieve them for his tenth labor.

Hercules set sail for Erytheia but became shipwrecked by storm in Libya. Killing more wild beasts along his way, he set up a set of pillars to mark how far he had come. Wearied by heat on his way, he drew his bow and arrow on Helios the sun god out of annoyance, but the sun god amused by his nature surrendered to him a great cup to sail through the Straits of Gibraltar to land on the east coast of Britain ruled by Albion, son of Poseidon. Albion expected Hercules to be an advanced scout for an invasion and attacked him, but Hercules slew the paranoid king and left the Ancient Britons under the rile of Brittanus, a Celtic chieftain. (They would be conquered by Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas and ancestor of King Arthur, over a century later). Since Brittanus had no sons to serve as his heir, Hercules sired Celtus with his daughter, Celtina, and eventually departed; he soon arrived on west coast of Erytheia near Mount Abas where he slew Orthrus, the two-headed hellhound and spawn of Typhon and Echidna, which guarded the cattle. Hercules also dispatched Eurytion who guarded the cattle and met King Geryon, brother of Echidna, on the river Anthemus. Slaying the three-headed ruler, Hercules began driving the prized cattle overland for Mycenae.

Near Ligura (modern Marseilles), Hercules slew Ialebion and Dercynus, sons of the Ligurian King Pos for trying to steal some of the cattle. He then rained stones down upon attacking Ligurians to make his escape. Near the future site of Rome, he slew the giant Cacus who also tried to steal some of the cattle. The natives honored Hercules for disposing of the ruthless thief. As Hercules rested, though, some of the cattle wandered off. Hercules found them in the company of Sylea, a priestess who lived in an area known only as Forest. She shared her bed with him and had three sons by him named Scythes, Agathyrsus and Gelonus. As adults, the three sons would conquer an area off the Black Sea called Scythia. (It is rumored that Sylea was actually the goddess Circe, but this is unconfirmed.)

In Rhegium, Hercules left the cattle in the custody of Hephaestus, the smith-god, who owned forges on nearby Sicily. The prize bull of the herd had been lured away by King Eryx and the crafty ruler would not return it unless Hercules boxed with him through three bouts as he did with all invaders. Hercules lasted all three bouts and then killed the evil king before returning to Mycenae with the full head of cattle.

Because Eurystheus wasnít counting the Augean Stables, which Hercules had tried to get payment for, or the Hydra, which his nephew Iolaus had helped him to overtake, Eurystheus challenged Hercules with two more labors. For the eleventh labor, Hercules was sent to retrieve apples from the Garden of the Hesperides, the Garden of Hera, whose location had been forgotten and confused. As Eurystheus figured Hera would kill the hero herself for violating her garden, Hercules traveled through Ormenium on his way to Eridanus in Italy searching for Nereus, the sea-god, for the secret of the gardenís location, but King Amyntor, believing Hercules was coming to overthrow him, refused him acts of hospitality. Hercules slew the ornery king, but Amyntorís daughter, Deidameia, granted Hercules great hospitality and shared her bed with him. She sired him a son, Ctessipus.

Upset over the death of his sons killed at the Port of Torone, Nereus fled far to the east than to relinquish the secret of the Hesperides. The Horae, daughters of Zeus and Themis, guided Hercules to search him out near the Black Sea. Hercules finally seized the wily sea-god as Nereus tried to sleep and held on to him as he shape-shifted through several horrible incarnations. Finally, the sea-god relented and told Hercules to search for the Hesperides in the shadow on the Atlas Mountains in Western Libya. While Hercules was in the shadow of the Caucasus Mountains, he sought out Prometheus for advice on how to handle Atlas who was the Titanís brother. He slew the eagle that terrorized the long-suffering Titan and then freed the grateful Prometheus. In Greece, Prometheus encountered the suffering Centaur Pholus stricken by Herculesí arrows and removed his immortality so that Pholus could die in peace and pass on to the afterlife.

Passing through the land of Arabia, Hercules killed the evil King Emathion of Arabia as well as King Busirus of Egypt who sacrificed all strangers to his land in the name of Zeus. In Libya, Hercules killed King Antaeus of Libya, a son of Poseidon and Gaea. Hercules could not understand why he could not defeat Antaeus until he realized Antaeus drew power while in touch with the earth. Finally, he lifted him off the ground and squeezed the life out of him.

In the Hesperides, Hercules killed Ladon, the dragon that protected the apples, but he needed Atlas to pick them for him. Offering to hold back the heavens while Atlas picked the apples, Hercules was trapped under the burden of the heavens as Atlas decided to leave him and take the apples to Mycenae himself. Using his wits, Hercules asked Atlas to hold back the heavens long enough to get a better grip on them, but as Atlas took back his place, Hercules snatched up the apples and departed in haste. Before departing entirely, he created a freshwater spring to refresh himself which in his absence also saved the Argonauts from thirst as they fought to return to Greece.

Eurystheus turned over the apples to the goddess Athena who returned them to the Hesperides. He then sent Hercules on his twelfth and last labor to fetch up from the underworld Cerberus himself. Before he could ascend into Tartarus, Hercules had to be indoctrinated into the Eleusinian mysteries. Before being initiated, he had to be purified for his previous murders by Eumolpus, but since foreigners could not be initiated, he had to be adopted by King Pylius of Eleusis.

Descending into Tartarus though the caves at Taenarum, Hercules was guided by Hermes himself and encountered the shades and ghosts of the Argonaut Meleager and the dead Gorgon Medusa. He also encountered the captive Argonauts Theseus and Peirithous who had previously arrived to abduct Persephone as a bride for Peirithous but instead were taken captive by Hades. Hades had bound them to chairs at the table of the dead, and Hercules rescued Theseus, but he was forbidden by Hades from rescuing Peirithous who had wanted Persephone for himself. Knowing Hercules had come for Cerberus, Hades allowed Hercules to try his luck with Cerberus but only if he used no weapons. Using his great strength, Hercules dragged the three-headed hellhound to Mycenae by force, but the sight and ferociousness of the beast so terrified Eurystheus and the Mycenaen court that he rendered an end to the labors. Hercules released Cerberus afterward who hurriedly fled Earth and back to the underworld on his own.

With his labors completed, Hercules gained immortality, but while he remained on Earth, he was still subject to mortal pain and hardship. He returned to Thebes to discover Lycus of Euboea had overthrown King Creon and threatened his wife. He slew Lycus and since he felt he had dishonored Megaera, he surrendered her as a wife to Iolaus to find himself a new wife. Hercules knew King Eurytion of Oechalia was looking for a husband for his daughter Iole. Eurytion had taught Hercules how to use a bow and arrow years before, but Hercules defeated him in a test of archery while trying to win the hand of Iole. Herculesí mentor, the Centaur, Chiron, was in attendance of the archery display with his young ward, Achilles, son of Peleus, one of the Argonauts. While studying Hercules's arrows tainted by the blood of the Hydra, he accidentally scratched himself with one of Herculesí arrows and had to be cured by Prometheus.

Recalling how Hercules had killed his own children, Eurytion refused to give his daughter to Hercules and even accused him of taking his missing cattle stolen by Autolycus, the son of Hermes. Hercules left for Pherae, home of his friend, Admetus, where Iphitus, Eurytionís son, found him and sided with him against his father. Hercules was once again set upon by madness by Hera, and flung Iphitus without malice from the kingdom to his death.

Hercules tried to be purified of this murder by King Neleus of Pylos, but Neleus refused to do so since he wanted to remain allies rather than enemies with Eurytion. King Hippocoon of Sparta also refused to do so, but his son, Deiphobus, King of Amyclae, did purify Hercules of the sin, but Xenocleia, the priestess of Delphi, refused to absolve him of the murder. Hercules stole her tripod and threatened to destroy Delphi and erect his own temple. Hercules clashed with Apollo who arrived to defend his temple and Zeus had to intervene to separate the two.

Hercules was instructed to sell himself into slavery and to spend ten years in servitude to Queen Omphale of Lydia, widow of King Tmolus. In his presence, Omphale wore his tunic made from the Nemean lion and clad Hercules in her dresses, but he still performed acts of boldness and strength. He captured the wily Cercopes at Ephesus and slew the thief Syleus. He razed the city of Itoni who overran the region and killed Ophiuchus, a great serpent. In gratitude, Omphale shared her bed with Hercules and she gave birth to his son, Lamus, to be her heir. Hercules also sired a son named Cleodaeus by her servant girl. Grateful to Hercules for all he had done, Omphale released him early from his servitude. On his return to Greece, Hercules came across the body of Icarus, the lost son of Daedalus, and buried him on the island he christened Icaria for him. As he neared Greece, he encountered the twins and former Argonauts Calais and Zetes on the island of Tenos, but after discovering that it was their choice to abandon him from the Argosy on Lemnos, he killed them for their part in his abandonment and erected stones on their graves.

Hercules now wanted to right all the wrongs done him. He began with amassing an army to overtake Troy and seize Hesione from King Laomedon. Slaying the king and his sons, he left young Priam as the sole heir to Troy since the young man was not involved in his fatherís sins. Hercules surrendered Hesione to his friend, the Argonaut Telamon, for joining him in the invasion. Hera intervened once more and drove Herculesí fleets into the island of Cos ruled by King Eurypylus, a brother of Ialebion and Dercynus murdered by Hercules. He managed to wound Hercules, but Zeus stepped in and spirited Hercules away. Tired of Heraís incessant persecution of his son, Zeus hung her from the heights of Olympus with weights on her feet. Zeus had good reason to interact this time to save Hercules because the Olympians were about to be engaged in battle by Giants. A prophecy had decreed that the Giants could only be routed with the help of a mortal. It was also said they could not be killed by mortal or immortal means. Because Hercules was neither just mortal nor immortal, Zeus called him into the battle. As all the gods were routed from all directions, Hercules shot the Giant Ephialtes with the help of Apollo and single-handedly slew Alcyoneus and dragged him to the Pallene peninsula where he died.

After that interruption, Hercules continued his campaign of vengeance against King Augeas, but he was repulsed by Augeas and his allies, General Amarynceus and the Moliones. He retired to Tiryns, but Eurystheus exiled him rather than become involved in his bloody schemes. Remounting in Pheneus in northern Arcadia, Hercules hid out on the road through Cleonae and killed the Moliones on the way to the Olympics being held there. He then laid siege on King Augeas and deposed him. He then called Phyleus out of exile and placed him on the throne.

Hercules now set upon making war on King Neleus of Pylos for not purifying him on the murder of Iphitus. He conquered the region and placed Neleusís exiled son Nestor on the throne. He then laid siege on King Hippocoon of Sparta of the same insult, but also because Hippocoonís sons had murdered Oeonus, Herculesí mortal cousin. Hercules was aided by the Argonaut Cepheus, who was now King of Tegea, and presented his daughter, Sterope, a lock of hair from Medusa to defend the kingdom in her fatherís absence.

Cepheus, all of his sons and Herculesí half-brother, Iphicles, lost their lives at Sparta, but Hercules avenged them all by slaying Hippocoon and restoring the throne to King Tyndareus, Hippocoonís half-brother, from whom he had usurped it. Wounded in the engagement, Hercules was healed by Asclepius. By now, Hercules was content to retire in Calydon. He fell in love with Deianeira, daughter of King Oeneus, and defeated the river-god Achelous for her hand in marriage. The river-god had taken the form of a bull to challenge Hercules, but Hercules defeated him by ripping off one of his horns. Bidding its return, Achelous then left them in peace.

Hercules married Deianeira and defended the area from the Thresprotians for the Calydonians although he seduced Astyoche, daughter of their ruler, King Phylas. Astyoche bore him a son Tlepolemus. He also called the sons he had had by the daughters of King Thespius to stay with him in Calydon. During a banquet, Hercules accidentally misjudged his strength and accidentally killed a cupbearer named Cyathus. Oeneus forgave him, but the guilty Hercules decided to exile himself and Deianeira to Trachis. Along the way, the Centaur Nessus recognized Hercules as an enemy of the Centaurs and tried to abduct Deianeira for himself near the river Evenus. Hercules killed Nessus with his arrows tipped with the blood of the Hydra, but the dying Nessus gave the naÔve Deianeira some of his blood tainted by the blood of the Hydra claiming it was a love charm if Hercules ever proved to be unfaithful.

In Trachis, Hercules made his allegiance to King Ceyx by driving out the Dryopes and slaying Dyopian King Laogoras and then driving the Lapiths out of Hestiaeotis for King Aegiminus although he refused to claim the land Aegiminus had promised him. Hercules was challenged to single combat by Cycnus, a son of the war-god, Ares, but defeated him along with help from Athena. Ares also entered the engagement seeking revenge on the death of the Stymphalian Birds, but the two of them were separated by a thunderbolt from Zeus.

Hercules and Deianeira meanwhile had had a son, Hyllus, but Hercules could not forget that Eurytion had robbed him of Iole. Raising an army, he invaded Oechalia and took Iole for himself and erected an altar to Zeus at Cape Cenarum. In order to properly observe the rites with all propriety, he sent his herald Lichas to Trachis to fetch him a fresh tunic from Deianeira. Iole accompanied Lichas back to Trachis, but once Deianeira realized who Iole was and her importance to Hercules, she rubbed Nessusí love charm into the tunic and had it delivered to Hercules.

Upon Hercules donning the tunic, the blood of the Hydra on it erupted into flames on Hercules and ripped off his skin as he pulled it off. Lichas was accidentally tossed to his death after standing too close to Herculesí flailing arms. In incredible pain, Hercules returned to Trachis, but Deianeira upon realizing Nessusís treachery committed suicide. Climbing to the top of Mount Oeta, Hercules called upon his older son Hyllus by Melite to build a pyre and to light it, but Hyllus was unwilling to do so. The Argonaut Poeas consented to light the pyre and Hercules passed upon him his bow and arrow. The flames then burned off what was left mortal in Hercules. Lightning then struck the flames and when the smoke cleared, there was no trace or remains of the dead hero to be found.

Hercules found himself ascended to Olympus where Hera reconciled with him and even offered her daughter, Hebe, goddess of youth, as a potential bride to him as an act of faith. On Earth, Eurystheus became fearful that the heroís children might rise up against him for his persecution of their father. Because he was the most powerful of the Greek rulers, no one offered refuge to Herculesí children except for King Ceyx and Theseus of Athens, both of whom were indebted to Hercules, who had Hebe restore Iolausí youth so that he might defend his children on Earth. Herculesí bow and arrow were passed on to Poeasí son, Philoctetes, and Hercules appeared to him years afterward to forget his hatred of the Greeks and to fight in the Trojan War. Philoctetes used his arrows to slay Paris, the abductor of Helen of Troy.

Not interested in remaining isolated to Olympus, Hercules continued to have many more adventures on Earth and anonymously looked upon his childrenís descendants as time passed so that they never fell upon hard times. During the Roman Empire, he particularly befriended Iolaus, a possible descendant of his nephew. According to stories documented by a bard named Gabrielle, Hercules and Iolaus shared many adventures and broke the warrior lust of the Warrior Goddess Xena. She too became a loyal ally in a few adventures particularly against the dark god Dahak and the affairs of Herculesí half-siblings, Ares and Discord, who frustrated by their motherís pact of non-interference carried on persecution of Hercules. Gabrielle's writings later became the basis for a television series starring Hercules posing as a mortal actor named Kevin Sorbo in modern years although the motivations and actual facts were often distorted or erroneous. 

It was during these years while following the Roman invasions of lands to the north that Hercules met and encountered the Asgardian god Thor. While their initial meeting was not without strife, they became strong friends and allies lasting up to the present. Thor came to Hercules aid on more than a few times such as when Hercules was duped into signing a contract making him Hadesís slave. The son of Odin stormed the netherworld and rescued Hercules out of their long friendship. Still, a friendly rivalry remains between the two, as they argue which of the pair is the stronger. To Hercules, the answer is clear.

As an immortal, Hercules used his godhood to benefit all mortals and often identified himself proudly as one of the Olympian gods. Zeus, however, had announced an end to worship of the Olympian Gods after realizing that the Romans were killing Christians in the name of the Olympians. His edict was strengthened by the threats of the Celestials and over the years, more enlightened mortal man coming into an understanding of the earth around them forgot that the Olympian gods, as well as the other pantheons of Earth, existed except in mythology. Herculesí claims of being the one true Hercules were believed to a lesser extent.

Over the years, Hercules took on other roles to carry his interests and pursuits and toward the Fifteenth Century, he added the surname Reason to his name to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of Zeus. In modern years, Thor became a founder of the Avengers, a group which even Hercules joined. The general public never believed them to be the gods they claimed to be but rather super-powered individuals paying homage to the myths. After being seduced and enthralled by Amora the Enchantress, Hercules fought even against the Avengers. Though regaining his senses via a sulphurous arrow from Hawkeye, Hercules still earned the wrath of Zeus for his unexplained journey to Earth and was banished from Olympus . Staying with the Avengers, he assisted them in several adventures, but after saving Olympus from Typhon, Hercules was allowed to return to his homeland.

Hercules next encountered the Avengers while fleeing the Huntsman, who had the power to terrify and destroy the Olympians. Hercules eventually overcame the Huntsman with the aid of Namor the Submariner. Later, when Ares and the Enchantress conquered Olympus , they rendered Hercules amnesiac and he ended up working as a circus strongman. Discovered by Hawkeye, Hercules joined with the Avengers to defeat Ares and liberate Olympus .

Later, a plot involving Ares, Pluto, and Hippolyta united Hercules with a group of mortal heroes to form the short-lived Champions of Los Angeles. He rejoined the Avengers after helping fight the forces of Surtur and the Fire Demons of Muspelheim and stayed on with them for a lengthy period. However, this tenure ended with perhaps Hercules greatest defeat. When Baron Helmut Zemoís Masters of Evil took over Avengers Mansion and assaulted Jarvis, an impatient and somewhat inebriated Hercules rushed in to stop them. Holding his own for a remarkable length of time, Hercules eventually fell before the combined might of Goliath, Mr. Hyde and the Wrecking Crew who beat him into a coma.

Blaming the Avengers for the injuries to his son, Zeus directed the Olympians to capture them. Prometheus managed to heal Hercules after the injuries incurred by the Wrecking Crew and confirmed the innocence of the Avengers and saved them from Zeusí wrath. Sometime later, Hercules helped the Avengers against the High Evolutionary, playing a key role in the defeat of his Evolutionary War plot, but was evolved ďbeyond godhoodĒ in the process and vanished.

Discovered back in his godly form by Thor in the mysterious Black Galaxy, Hercules returned to Earth and stayed with Thor for a while using the alias of Harry Cleese. However, the Celestials had been in the middle of preparing Hercules to serve in the creation of a new Celestial. As the process was incomplete when Thor rescued him, Hercules lost part of his mental resolve or determination in the strange experiment. As a result, Hercules froze up in a series of fights and had to be bailed out by Thor. When Thor and Hercules returned to the Black Galaxy, the Celestialsí process was completed, and Hercules regained his vigor, becoming the Lion of Olympus once again.

Hercules joined the Avengers in a series of adventures. By now, Hercules had met and fell in love with the mortal woman Taylor Madison, but he was devastated to learn that she was nothing more than an artificial creation of Hera conjured to cause pain to the step-son she so despised. After chastising Hera, Zeus encouraged Hercules to return to Olympus, but when Hercules angrily refused, Zeus stripped him of his godhood, leaving him much weaker and no longer immortal.

Hercules remained with the Avengers for some time after that but left them shortly after the conflict known as the Crossing in which Immortus had posed as Kang. Hercules was one of the few Avengers not present and thus not seemingly slain in the struggle against the evil entity Onslaught. Shortly thereafter, Zeus offered to restore his godly powers, but he declined, preferring to continue his mortal existence to better understand and appreciate life.

Since the heroes return from the pocket dimension to which they had been sent, Hercules has worked alongside the Avengers and Thor on several occasions, as well as with several other heroes. His life and beliefs were briefly tested after the Scarlet Witch sent events into motion that resulted in the deaths of Ant-Man, Hawkeye and the Vision as well as that of Thor, who was killed in a revised Ragnarok engineered by Loki. Turning to his fondness for drink, Hercules was dismayed to learn that Eurystheus was still alive after several hundred years since being restored to life by Hera. To regain his glory, he was encouraged through twelve more labors modeled after his previous twelve. Regaining his glory and former humanity, he resolved the memories of his past, but his next recourse is as yet unknown, but it is quite obvious that Hercules will always be ready to bestow the ďgiftĒ of combat unto anyone able to withstand it.

Height: 6í5Ē
Weight: 325 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

Strength Level: Hercules possesses Class 100 level strength enabling him to lift (press) well over a hundred tons under optimal conditions. (The average Olympian can lift about 25 tons).

Known Superhuman Powers: Hercules possesses exceptional superhuman strength, stamina and reflexes than any of the Olympian Gods. Like all Olympian Gods, he is immortal. He has not aged since reaching adulthood and cannot die by any known conventional means. He is immune to all known terrestrial diseases and is invulnerable to conventional injury. If wounded, his godly life force would enable him to recover with superhuman speed. It would take an injury of such magnitude that it dispersed a major portion of his bodily molecules to cause him a physical death. Even then, it might be possible for Zeus or a number of gods of equal power working together to revive him. Hercules does have some superhuman strength and his own Olympian metabolism gives him far greater than human endurance in all physical activities. (Olympian flesh and bone is about three times as dense as similar human tissue, contributing to the Olympian's superhuman strength and weight).

Hercules has highly developed leg muscles, although they do not match those of the Hulk. Hercules can make a standing high jump of at least a hundred feet in the Earthís gravity. Hercules is virtually tireless. His supernaturally enhanced musculature produces no fatigue poisons.

Abilities: As Olympusís greatest warrior, Hercules is highly expert in traditional means of hand-to-hand combat, as well as, in wrestling. Hercules is also very highly skilled in ancient Greek athletic feats such as the discus and hammer throws.

Weapons: Hercules was famed in ancient Greece for his mastery of the bow and arrow, but today, because of bitter memories of Nessusís treachery and Deianeiraís suicide, he prefers not to use them.

Before he came to Olympus, Herculesí favorite weapon was his large wooden club. The club was supplanted by his current weapon, his Golden Mace, which is not actually made of gold but was forged by the god Hephaestus from enchanted adamantine, the legendary substance which Dr. Myron MacLain named his artificially created adamantium. The mace is therefore virtually indestructible and has survived direct blows from Thorís hammer.

In ancient times, Hercules wore the pelt of the Nemean Lion, which was impervious to weapons, and added him an extra amount of protection to his impervious skin. According to Celtic Myth, Hercules gave the hide to the Irish god, Ogmios, possibly sometime after the Celtic Gods and Olympian Gods came to a truce over their worship rites on Earth.

Transportation/Pets: Since becoming a god, Hercules has occasionally borrowed Apolloís chariot which is pulled by enchanted carnivorous horses which can gallop through the air to take on an aspect of flying and also pass between worlds such as from Earth to Olympus.

Comments: This bio describes Hercules as he has appeared in the Marvel Universe with details from his appearances in the DC Universe and the Legendary Journeys. While many of the "Legendary Journeys" adventure might seem contradictory to his mythology and his Marvel Universe history, these details can be resolved as the "artistic license" of the Sam Raimi in the Marvel Universe transforming Hercules's past into a series.

This bio does not include details from alternate reality counterparts of Hercules. For example: In one alternate timeline (Earth-MC2), Hercules fathered the young hero Argo, and in another future of the 24th Century, Hercules is the last survivor of Olympus and had extensive adventures in the Andromeda Galaxy where he fathered Arimathes with Layana Sweetwater.

In one alternate reality, Hercules was imprisoned for years on an island in the Aegean by Ares after an unknown quarrel and set free after the onset of World War III. This war had been masterminded by Ares and lead to a nuclear holocaust. Involving the Atomic Knights. Hercules teamed up with Gardner Grayle, one of the Atomic Knights, in leading freedom fighters against Ares.

In one alternate earth, perhaps unburdened by Hera's wrath, Hercules used his godhood to seize the throne of Mycenae and conquer all of Greece as a figure calling himself the Sovereign. Hercules battled and overthrew the Sovereign in one episode of the "Legendary Journeys."

Hercules has been portrayed by several actors in television and the motion pictures, most notably by Steve Reeves, Reg Parks, Mark Forest, Mickey Hargitay, Frank Gordon, Nigel Green, Gordon Scott, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Lou Ferrigno, Tate Donovan, Ryan Gosling, Brian Thompson, Paul Telfer, Steve Byers and Kevin Sorbo who lent his own identity to the character in "The Legendary Journeys."

Clarifications: Hercules is not to be confused with:

Last updated: 09/02/12

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