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Hercules is a legendary hero from Greek mythology who is revered for his incredible feats of physical strength and wide-ranging acts of bravery.
Hercules was born to the God Zeus and the human lady Alcmene. Hercules’ demi-godly power and stamina were passed on to him by his father, Zeus, who was always chasing after different women.
One night, Zeus disguised himself as Alcmene’s husband, Amphitryon, and spent the night with her, and so was Hercules born with godly strength.
Hercules is a Roman counterpart of the Greek demigod, Heracles, who also had superhuman strength.
History of Hercules
The Roman mythological hero Hercules had a rough go of it from the start. Despite his reputation as a defender of the helpless and champion of the weak, he had his share of family issues.
Juno, a Roman goddess, sent two witches to stop the birth of Hercules, but one of Alcmene’s slaves fooled them into leaving the chamber.
Then Juno dispatched serpents to try to kill him in his cradle, but Hercules killed both of them first.
The Greeks and Romans found immense comfort in the demi-god since he shared their humanity, endured the same pains, and made the same mistakes that regular people did, yet was nevertheless able to do feats that humans were incapable of.
Hercules was a type of super-powered everyman who experienced heartbreak, terrible days, and even horrible years until his untimely demise was orchestrated by someone else.
If awful things could happen to a hero like Hercules, then the ancient people would have had no reason to complain about the disappointments and tragedies they had experienced in their own lives.
His resilience and fortitude in the face of adversity made him a hero to the people and a beacon of stability.
Historian Thomas R. Martin once described the strongman Hercules as the only figure to whom cults were created globally, across the Greek world.
His ability to defeat monsters and do the seemingly impossible made him a desirable guardian in many independent nations.
How Strong Was Hercules?
Young and prosperous, Hercules eventually settled down with a wife and had three fine boys.
His stepmother Hera’s patience had finally worn enough, and she punished him by putting a spell on him to murder his own children.
After Athena, the goddess of wisdom, struck him unconscious with a stone to stop the madness he was unleashing, he was overcome with guilt over what he had done when he regained consciousness and wanted to commit suicide.
His cousin Theseus told him that suicide was a dishonorable option and that he must find some other way to atone for what he had done.
A priestess known as the Oracle at Delphi informed Hercules that he should get devoted to his cousin Eurystheus, King of Tiryns and Mycenae, so that Eurystheus might develop labors for him to do in order to atone for his crimes.
The labors, which started out as 10, and eventually expanded to 12, are the biggest testaments to prove how strong Hercules was.
The Twelve Labors
One: Kill the Nemean Lion
The first mission was to journey to Nemea and slaughter the Nemean Lion, and this is where his godly strength was displayed. No arrow could penetrate this lion’s skin. Hercules shocked the beast with his olive-wood club and strangled it. Athena told him to skin the lion with its claws. He then lived wearing the lion skin.
In different versions of the story, he wears the fur to scare Eurystheus. Eurystheus sought revenge by presenting more perilous challenges.
Two: Kill the Lernaean Hydra
As for the second labor, it was to put an end to the terrible Hydra. Each of the nine heads on the beast was equipped with a deadly poison. And if you cut off one of their heads, two others would sprout just where it fell off from. Hercules was able to stop the creature’s self-healing by cutting off its heads and having his assistant, Iolaus, close the openings with a torch.
Three: Capture the Ceryneian Hind
Eurystheus, enraged by Hercules’ success, pitted him against the gods. Artemis, goddess of the moon, adored and protected a little deer with gold horns – the Ceryneian Hind. Hercules was charged with bringing Eurystheus the deer. He thought Hercules will kill the deer and Artemis would then seek revenge, but he managed to bring the deer unharmed.
Four: Capture the Erymanthian Boar
Mount Erymanthus residents feared this beast. As violent as it was, Eurystheus challenged his cousin to catch it, not kill it. Hercules pursued the boar into a snowdrift and captured it, and presented it to the king of Tiryns who was so frightened of the creature that he hid it in a large bronze jar. This deepened the animosity between Hercules and Eurystheus.
Five: Clean the Augean Stables
Eurystheus gave him a difficult task. King Augeas’ stables housed thousands of animals who had not been cleaned in 30 years. Hercules had to clean them in one day. To clean the stables, he bent two rivers so they poured into them. Eurystheus later said this didn’t qualify since the rivers cleaned the stable, not Hercules himself.
Six: Kill the Stymphalian Birds
Around Lake Stymphalos lived bloodthirsty birds. Their claws, beaks, and feathers were sharp as metal. Hercules frightened them out of their nests with a rattle and slaughtered them with poison arrows.
Seven: Capture the Cretan Bull
King Minos of Crete kept a ferocious bull that could breathe fire. Hercules subdued the crazed beast after a series of wrangling bouts and delivered it to King Eurystheus.
Eight: Capture the Horses of Diomedes
This labor was to collect King Diomedes’ unruly horses. Diomedes fed his horses human flesh, making them feral and uncontrollable. Hercules killed and fed King Diomedes to his man-eating horses. This tamed them. Hercules could then bring the horses to King Eurystheus.
Nine: Take the Girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons
Hercules traveled to the Amazons, where queen Hippolyta was to give him her girdle for Eurystheus’ daughter. Hera spread the rumor that his intentions were evil. He had to fight the Amazons and take the belt forcefully.
Ten: Capture the Cattle of Geryon
Geryon, a winged monster with three human bodies, owned a herd of lovely red cattle. Using a giant and a two-headed dog, he defended his herd. Hercules killed Geryon along with the giant and the dog and sent the livestock to King Eurystheus.
Eleven: Take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides
Hesperides were nymphs. Golden apples were grown in their garden, guarded by a 100-headed dragon. Hercules negotiated with Atlas, the father of the nymphs. Atlas, who held up the earth, made a deal with Hercules. Hercules carried the Earth on his back while Atlas, the father of the nymphs, went to Erytheia to get the Golden Apples. Atlas then tried to give Hercules the job of holding up the earth for good, but Hercules tricked him into taking it back.
Twelve: Capture Cerberus
Hercules was commanded to capture Cerberus, the 3-headed guard dog, without using weaponry. Hercules subdued the dog’s fierce heads, and it followed him to King Eurystheus.
Hercules was an incredibly strong individual in Roman mythology. His superhuman strength was so great that he was able to complete twelve labors, which were all incredibly difficult tasks that no normal human could ever do. Hercules was also able to defeat some of the most dangerous creatures in Roman mythology. His strength was truly remarkable and it is no wonder that he is still remembered today.