Hercules twelve labors

The 12 Labors of Hercules

    It all started when Hera drove Hercules mad making him kill his wife Megara and six children. Hera had once before tried unsuccessfully to kill Hercules, proof of Zeus’s (the father of Hercules) infidelity when he was 8 months old by sending two snakes to poison him. Hercules strangled them in his crib, saving both his own life and the life of his twin brother Iphicles

    When Hercules realized that he killed his family, he deeply regretted it and went to the Oracle of Delphi to ask for penance. There, he was told to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns, for twelve years. Eurystheus would give him some labors, which Hercules would need to complete in order to become immortal. Although Hercules did not like this, he decided to follow the Oracle’s advice.

    When Hercules arrived in Tiryns, initially Eurystheus asked Hercules to perform the following 10 labors:

    1. To kill the Nemean Lion,
    2. To kill the Lernaean Hydra,
    3. To capture the Ceryneian Hind,
    4. To capture the Erymanthian Boar,
    5. To clean the stables of Augeas in one day,
    6. To kill the Stymphalian Birds,
    7. To capture the Cretan Bull,
    8. To steal the Mares of Diomedes,
    9. To steal the girdle of the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, and,
    10. To steal the cattle of the monster Geryon

    1. Slaying the Nemean Lion

    The Nemean Lion was a terrible monster that roamed in Nemea, capturing women as hostages and luring brave men to save them. However, free the woman, she would turn into the lion and eat him alive. When Hercules arrived, he met a boy and asked him to kill the lion. He also told him that if Hercules would kill the lion within 30 a month, the lion would be sacrificed to Zeus. In addition, If Hercules did not return within 30 days or he died, the boy would sacrifice himself to Zeus.

    When Hercules found the lion, he realized that the lion’s fur was impenetrable, and he decided to follow it to its den. The cave had two entrances, one of which Heracles blocked; he then entered the other. Hercules found the lion and eventually killed the lion by strangling it with his bare hands.

    With Athena’s help, Hercules took the lion’s skin out and carried the carcass on his shoulders. Hercules entered the city and when Eurystheus saw him he was horrified, believing that it was alive.

    Eurystheus warned him that the tasks set for him would become increasingly difficult. He then sent Heracles off to complete his next quest, which was to kill the Lernaean Hydra.

    Slaying the Nemean Lion

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    2. Slaying the Lernaean Hydra

    The Lernaean Hydra was a monster that lived in the Lake Lerna, and who was raised by Hera to kill Hercules. The Hydra had 9 heads, one of which was immortal, all the remaining heads were mortal. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes.

    When he chopped one of the Hydra’s heads, he realized that 2 new heads would come out. Hercules asked for the help of his nephew, Iolaus, who came up with the idea of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps. 

    Hera, angry that her side was losing the battle, sent a huge crab to distract Hercules. When it was time for the immortal head to be cut off, Hercules took a golden sword that Athena gave him, and  together the two of them, managed to kill the monster by cutting the immortal head. When Eurystheus found out that it was Heracles’ nephew Iolaus had helped him, he declared that the labor had not been completed alone, and as a result did not count toward the 10 labors set for him. 

    Slaying the Lernaean Hydra

    3. Capturing the Ceryneian Hind

    The next task for Hercules was to capture (but not kill) the Ceryneian Hind, a fast deer with golden antlers sacred to the goddess Artemis. Hercules managed to capture the hind while it was sleeping. Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo, appeared in front of him angrily. Hercules asked for forgiveness and told Artemis that he would return the hind to her as soon as he showed it to Eurystheus. Artemis accepted his apology and let him go. When Hercules returned to Eurystheus, he told Hercules to let the hind go and the animal ran back to Artemis. Hercules simply replied to Eurystheus that he was not quick enough.

    Capturing the Ceryneian Hind

    4. Capturing the Erymanthian Boar

    The fourth labor of Heracles was to bring the Erymanthian boar alive to Eurystheus in Mycenae. The Erymanthian Boar was a giant animal living on Mount Erymanthos, which was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Eurystheus thought that capturing this beast would be the perfect task that would lead to Hercules’ death. 

    Hercules chased the Erymanthian Boar through the deep snow, and having thus worn him out, he caught him in a net and carried him to Mycenae. The moment  Eurystheus saw the boar got so scared that he hid in a bronze vessel jar and asked Hercules to get rid of the animal.

    Capturing the Erymanthian Boar

    5. Cleaning the stables of Augeas in one day

    King Augeas of Elis had thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, and horses in his stables, and was said to have more cattle than any man in Greece. They had never been cleaned in thirty years, and Eurystheus asked Hercules to clean them within a day. 

    When Hercules showed up, he offered to clean the stables in a single day for 1/10 of the Augean king’s entire cattle. Hercules didn’t say anything about how he was sent by Eurystheus or about his labors of redemption. The Augean King agreed to pay Hercules IF he could do it in one day.

    When Hercules  managed to complete the task by diverting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to pass through the stables and wash them out, Augeas refused to pay Hercules. As a result, they went to court, where he managed to win his claim. 

    Hercules returned to Eurystheus to inform the king of the completion of his labor, however, when Eurystheus found out that Hercules was paid for his cleaning out of the stables, and he told Hercules that this labor, similar to his second labor, didn’t count. 

    Cleaning the stables of Augeas in one day

    6. Killing the Stymphalian Birds

    The next task Hercules was to kill the Stymphalian birds, which were flying man-eating monsters with wings made of metallic feathers, and all belonged to the god of war, Ares. The Stymphalian Birds had all migrated to lake Stymphalia terrorizing the local people. King Eurystheus sent Hercules to slay the Stymphalian Birds, as his next labor.

    Hercules didn’t succeed to go too deep into the swamp. However, Goddess Athena helped him by giving him a rattle; the sound of that scared the birds away so they were an easy target. All that Hercules had to do was to pull out his bow and arrow, and set the arrows on fire. He then used his poisonous arrows and shot the birds down. Hercules slayed 100 of the Stymphalian birds, and the rest flew off. Hercules picked up a dozen of the birds, and took them back to King Eurystheus.

    Killing the Stymphalian Birds

    7. Capturing the Cretan Bull

    Hercules’ next labor was to capture the Cretan Bull who was destroying the crops and land. The Cretan Bull was a gift from Poseidon to King Minos of Crete and was also the father of the Minotaur. Cretan bull used to be a very gentle beast until king Minos upset Poseidon. As a result the bull got insane and started running wild throughout Crete knocking down orchard walls, and destroying crops. 

    When Hercules arrived at Crete, King Minos offered to help me but Hercules refused his help. 

    Hercules found the bull drinking from a water spring, grabbed it by the horns, wrestled it to the ground, and tied the bull up so it could not escape. Hercules took the bull with him and sailed back to King Eurystheus. 

    When the king saw the gigantic bull, he got so scared that he asked him to sacrifice the bull to Hera. The goddess rejected the offer. Hercules picked up the bull and tossed it high into the sky and the bull became the constellation Taurus.

    Capturing the Cretan Bull

    8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes

    The Mares of Diomedes were animals trained to eat human flesh, owned by Diomedes, who was the cruel king of Thrace. The mares were wild and untamable and Diomedes had to keep them chained to a gold post to keep them from escaping and eating people. Hercules 7th labor was to steal those mares and bring them back to King Eurystheus. 

    Hercules snuck up on the horses but while doing it some of Diomedes soldiers saw him and attacked him. Diomedes heard the noises from the attack and he woke up. He attacked Hercules, however, Hercules being stronger, he won.

    Hercules then fed Diomedes to his own man eating horses. Being half god the flesh of Diomedes made the horses calm and Hercules took the opportunity to bind their mouths shut. Hercules was easily able to bring the mares back to King Eurystheus.

    Steal the Mares of Diomedes

    9. Stealing the girdle of the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta

    Admete, the daughter of Eurystheus, learned that Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, had been given a girdle as a gift from her father, Ares, and wanted it for herself. The Amazons were a tribe of woman warriors. Hippolyta was the young and beautiful queen of the Amazons. So, Eurystheus and Hera decided to make this the 9th labor that Hercules would have to complete; he had to find the Amazons and bring back the magic girdle of Hippolyta.

    Hercules sailed off to find the Amazons and when he finally reached the shores where the Amazons lived, he was warmly welcomed.  Hippolyta agreed to give him her girdle. Hercules asked her to have lunch together on the ship with him in private and Hippolyta followed. Hera started to spread rumors about Hercules wanting to abduct their queen. Enraged at being fooled by Hercules, the Amazons quickly hurried to Hercules ship. Hercules saw the warrior women coming in full battle formation. He gave Hippolyta a quick kiss, grabbed her girdle and sailed away, leaving Hippolyta behind on the shore.

    Hercules sailed back to King Eurystheus and presented him with the girdle of Hippolyta.

    Stealing the girdle of the queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta

    10. Stealing the cattle of the monster Geryon

    For his next labor, King Eurystheus decided to make Hercules travel to the end of the earth to the island Erythia and bring back the red cattle of Geyron. Hercules traveled for many days, got so hot and thirsty, and shot an arrow at Helios (the sun). Helios was not mad at Hercules failed attempt to kill him; instead, Helios admired Hercules’s courage and granted him a golden cup. This wasn’t a cup for drinking, it was a cup that would allow the last leg of Hercules’s journey to become shorter. It was a special cup that Hercules was going to the island of Erytheia. Exhausted Hercules finally made it to the island of Erytheia.

    Not long after he arrived, Orthus, the two-headed dog, attacked Hercules, so Hercules bashed him with his club. Eurytion followed, with the same result. Another herdsman in the area reported these events to Geryon. Just as Hercules was escaping with the cattle, Geryon attacked him. Hercules fought with him and shot him dead with his arrows.

    To annoy Hercules, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. The hero was within a year able to retrieve them. Hera then sent a flood which raised the level of a river so much, Heracles could not cross with the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. When he finally reached the court of Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera.

    Two extra labors!

    Upon finishing the 10 labor, Eurystheus told Hercules that he considered two of the labors invalid (the hydra or the Augean stables) and two more labors had to be completed.

    Stealing the cattle of the monster Geryon

    11. Stealing the Hesperidean Apples

    The 11th labor of Hercules was to bring Eurystheus the golden apples which belonged to Zeus, king of the gods. Hera had given these apples to Zeus as a wedding gift. These apples were kept in a garden at the northern edge of the world, and they were guarded not only by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon, but also by the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas, the titan who held the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.

    His first task was for Hercules to locate where the apples were. Hercules came upon Kyknos, a son of Ares, then, Nereus, a shape-shifting water nymph, and lastly,  Poseidon’s son Antaeus but none of them seem to know where the apples were. 

    Hercules then came to Mount Caucasus and the Titan Prometheus, who was chained to a rock as punishment for stealing fire from Zeus and giving it to man. Every day a giant eagle would visit Prometheus and eat his liver and every night a new liver would grow back. Hercules laid in wait for the eagle to show up to “punish” Prometheus, killed it, and freed Prometheus. Hercules asked Prometheus for the location of the garden. Although Prometheus did not know the exact location, he knew how Hercules could get the golden apples. Prometheus told Hercules that his brother Atlas would know how to get the golden apples and in exchange for Hercules taking the world from Atlas, he would be glad to accomplish the task for Hercules.

    Hercules found Atlas holding the weight of the world. Hercules told Atlas he would hold the world IF Atlas would go to Hera’s garden and gather some golden apples for him. Atlas agreed and Hercules took the world from Atlas’s shoulders. Atlas came back with 3 golden apples in his hand. Hercules tricked Atlas into taking back the world, by telling Atlas he just needed him to have Atlas hold the world for a moment, so he could make a pad for his shoulders. Atlas took the world back from Hercules, and Hercules took off with the golden apples back to King Eurystheus.

    Hercules arrived back to the king with the golden apples. Quickly Hera called Athena down to take the apples back to the island. 

    Stealing the Hesperidean Apples

    12. Capturing Cerberus, guardian of the Underworld

    The final labor to complete was to capture Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and guardian of the Underworld. 

    Hercules left for his last adventure. Hercules went looking for the priest Eumolpus, best known for starting the Eleusinian mysteries. The Eleusinian mysteries were thought to bring happiness in the underworld for those who learned the mysteries’ secrets. In the Eleusinian Mysteries, Hercules learned how to travel alive from the world of the living to the realm of the dead and vice versa. 

    Hercules found the entrance at a cave in Tanaerum. With the help of Hermes Hercules was able to make it to the deepest depths of the underworld where Hercules met Hades. Hercules asked Hades if he could take Cerberus back to the surface. Hades agreed to not only give Hercules safe passage back but also let him take Cerberus. When Hercules found Cerberus he grabbed the creature by the throat and wrestled him to the ground, and then picked the beast up and threw him over his shoulders. With the help of Athena, Hercules was able to return to the surface and make his way back to King Eursytheus.

    Hercules arrived at the king’s castle with Cerberus over his shoulders. Hercules dropped the giant monster at the base of the city gates, when Eurytheus saw Cerberus he was frightened and begged Hercules to return the beast in exchange the king would release Hercules from his labors. Hercules let the beast go and the Cerberus went back to Hades and the underworld.

    Capturing Cerberus, guardian of the Underworld

    Happy Ending!

    Having completed all 12 labors, Hercules was forgiven for his crimes, made immortal and went to live on Mount Olympus with his father Zeus. When Hercules went to Mount Olympus, Hera announced that she no longer hated Hercules and wanted to make amends for all she had put Hercules through and offered Hercules her daughter Hebe for his wife.

    *After the Twelve Labors were complete, Hercules decided to join Jason and the Argonauts in their attempt to obtain the Golden Fleece…

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    • Stealing Zeus’s fire is the same as Adam eating fruit from the tree of knowledge. And this light that is called fire is the light of a soul. The light that gives one their life are eternal and stored plugged into a tree until given life or judgement. There are many trees. Godzilla’s scales on the back is a good example of a matrix and where the souls are kept. Each “Hell” has its own punishment or reward.
      When Adam ate the fruit, he ate a soul and gained its arc lightning. That’s equivalent to Zeus fire being stolen. And the golden apples. The lights of people.

      • Thank you so much for the feedback, we are glad that you found The 12 Labors of Hercules interesting and informative!
        All the best, Maria, on behalf of Kids Love Greece.


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