Heracles (Latin: Hercules) is the son of the god
Alcmene. His gift was fabulous strength; he strangled two serpents in his cradle, and killed a lion before manhood. Heracles' main antagonist was
Hera. She eventually drove him mad, during which time he killed his own children and his brother's. He was so grieved upon recovery that he exiled himself and consulted the oracle of
Apollo. The oracle told him to perform twelve labors.
- Kill the
lion of Nemea. He strangled it without further ado.
- Kill the nine-headed
Hydra. Two new heads would grow on the Hydra from each fresh wound, and one was immortal. Heracles burned the eight and put the immortal one under a rock.
- Capture the Arcadian Stag. After running after it for many days, he finally trapped it.
- Kill the wild boar of Erymanthus. A wild battle, but pretty straightforward: Heracles won.
- Clean the Augean stables. He succeeded only by diverting a nearby river to wash the muck away.
- Kill the carnivorous birds of Stymphalis.
- Capture the wild bull of Crete.
- Capture the man-eating mares of Diomedes.
- Obtain the girdle of Hippolyte, the queen of the
Amazons (not all that easy, actually).
- Capture the oxen of
- Take the golden apples from the garden of the
Hesperides, which was always guarded by the dragon
Ladon. Heracles tricked
Atlas into getting he apples by offering to hold the Earth for Atlas. When he returned with the apples, Heracles asked him to take the Earth for a moment so he could go get a pillow for his aching shoulders. Atlas did so, and Heracles left with his apples.
Cerberus, the three-headed dog of
Hades, to the surface world.
Heracles was now free to return to Thebes and marry
Deianira. Later the centaur Nessus tried to abduct Deianira; Heracles shot him with a poisoned arrow. The dying Nessus told Deianira to keep his blood, as it would always preserve Heracles' love. When Deianira later feared she was being supplanted by Iole, Deianira sent Heracles a garment soaked in Nessus' blood. It poisoned Heracles, who was taken to
Olympus and endowed with immortality after death.