12 labours of Hercules

12 labours of hercules

  When he had come of age and already proved himself an unerring marksman with a bow and arrow, a champion wrestler and the possessor of superhuman strength, Heracles was driven mad by Hera. In a frenzy, he killed his own children. To atone for this crime, he was sentenced to perform a series of tasks, or labours, for Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae. By rights, Hercules should have been king himself, but Hera had tricked her husband Zeus into crowning Eurystheus instead.

Labour One : The Nemean Lion :
The Nemean lion was a fierce creature which could not be hurt by any mortal weapon. Heracles finished it by beating it with his club and strangling it. Upon killing the animal, Hercules used the lion's own claw to remove the weapon-proof skin, providing an impenetrable cloak seen in many paintings and sculptures of the hero.

Labour Two : Hydra :
The Hydra was a huge serpent which lived in a swamp in Lerna. The Hydra had 9 heads, with very long necks. It had a poisonous bite which was fatal. Its central head was immortal. When one of the mortal heads was cut, two additional heads would grow immediately to replace it. Heracles finished them off by burning the eight mortal heads, and then with the help of his nephew, Iolaus, he buried the only immortal head under a huge rock.

Labour Three : The Cerynitian hind :
The third Labour was the capture of the Cerynitian hind. The Cerynitian hind was a female deer, a doe, and a fleet-footed beast with golden horns. It was sacred to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, so Heracles dared not wound it. He hunted it for an entire year before running it down on the banks of the River Ladon in Arcadia. Taking careful aim with his bow, he fired an arrow between the tendons and bones of the two forelegs, pinning it down without drawing blood. All the same, Artemis was displeased, but Heracles dodged her wrath by blaming it on his taskmaster Eurystheus.
Labour Four : The Erymanthian Boar :
The fourth Labour took Heracles back to Arcadia in quest of an enormous boar, which he was challenged to bring back alive. While tracking it down he stopped to visit the centaur Pholus. This creature (half-horse, half-man) was examining one of the hero's arrows when he accidentally dropped it on his foot. Because it had been soaked in poisonous Hydra venom, Pholus succumbed immediately. Heracles finally located the boar on Mount Erymanthus and managed to drive it into a snow bank, immobilizing it. Flinging it up onto his shoulder, he carried it back to Eurystheus, who cowered as usual in his storage jar.

Labour Five: The Augean stables :
Cleaning the Augean Stables would take thirty days because it held thousands of cattle. The stalls had not been cleared out for a year. Heracles accomplished the fifth labour by diverting the flow of two rivers through the stables, creating a great flood which instantly washed out the stables, cleaning them. Hercules finished this labour quickly enough to have a little extra free time, with which he started the early Olympic Games to honour Zeus who granted Hercules a wish because of it.

Labour Six : The Stymphalian birds:
The sixth Labour pit Heracles against the Stymphalian birds, inhabitants of a marsh near Lake Stymphalus in Arcadia. The sources differ as to whether these birds feasted on human flesh, killed men by shooting them with feathers of brass or merely considered a nuisance because of their number. Heracles could not approach the birds to fight them as the ground was too swampy to bear his weight and too mucky to wade through. Finally he resorted to some castanets given to him by the goddess Athena. By making a racket with these, he caused the birds to take wing. And once they were in the air, he brought them down by the dozens with his arrows. 

Labour seven : The Cretan Bull :
 The savage bull was sent by Poseidon to Minos to terrorise Crete. Hercules released the bull into the countryside of Tyrins, where it caused damage and wreaked havoc until it arrived in Marathon where Theseus caught it and sacrificed it.

Labour Eight : The Mares of Diomedes :Heracles killed Diomedes, King of Thrace. He fed the king to the horses, which cured them of their man-eating ways, then he drove away the no longer man-eating mares, to Mycenae. Mycenae dedicated to give them to Hera. The goddess chose to turn them loose on Mount Olympus where they were eventually eaten by wild beasts.

Labour Nine : Hippolyte's Belt :
 Hippolyta was the Queen of the Amazons. When Heracles met her, she was willing to give her girdle. But Hera intervened and convinced the Amazons that Heracles had come to abduct their queen. Heracles killed Hippolyta thinking she was the responsible for the attack and was able to fight off others and take the girdle away. Eurystheus wanted the girdle of Hippolyta as gift for his daughter.

Labour Ten : The Cattle of Geryon :

In creating monsters and formidable foes, the Greek mythmakers used a simple technique of multiplication. Thus Geryon, the owner of some famous cattle that Heracles was now instructed to steal, had three heads and/or three separate bodies from the waist down. His watchdog, Orthrus, had only two heads. The hound Orthrus rushed at Heracles as he was making off with the cattle, and the hero killed him with a single blow from the wooden club which he customarily carried. Geryon was dispatched as well, and Heracles drove the herd back to Greece, taking a wrong turn along the way and passing through Italy. 

Labour Eleven : the Apples of the Hesperides :
The eleventh labour was the most difficult so far. Heracles did not know where to find the golden apples. Hesperides was the daughter of Atlas and she guarded a tree which was said to have golden leaves and golden apples, guarded by a dragon. Heracles asked Atlas where to find the golden apples. He offered to support the world, which Atlas always supported, while Atlas retrieved it for him. Atlas, who saw a chance to relieve the heavy burden of carrying the world, gladly agreed to the offer. When Atlas came back with the golden apples, he did not give it to Heracles but Heracles was to continue carrying the world while Atlas would be the one to bring them back to Eurystheus. But Heracles tricked Atlas, Heracles said to Atlas that he will give all his strength and power for carrying the world if Atlas would carry it for a moment so that he could put a pad on his shoulder to ease the burden of the pressure from the weight of the world. Because of Atlas' stupidity, he agreed and Heracles picked up the apples and went off to Mycenae.

Labour Twelve : Cerberus :
This is the most difficult task of all. Heracles went off to the underworld to take the three-headed dog, the Cerberus, up from the underworld. Hades gave him permission if Heracles would not use any weapons. Heracles managed it and captured Cerberus, went to Mycenae, and later brought Cerberus back to the underworld.
After finishing the twelve labours Heracles felt peace and tranquility with his life because he had repented from killing his wife and children. But Heracles never was peaceful after the labours.

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