Hercules was a mythological hero who lived in Greece; after he died he was brought by Athena to live on Mount Olympus with the gods, while the mortal part of him went to the Elysian Fields to live with the heroes. Hercules was the son of the god Zeus and mortal Alkemes. He is best known for the 12 labors he performed as punishment for murdering his family while under the influence of Hera.
Hera, wife of Zeus, was jealous of Hercules and strove to make his life difficult. She arranged for his cousin Eurystheus to be born first and become ruler of Mycenae. Hera then sent two snakes to kill Hercules upon his birth, but the baby Hercules was able to strangle them.
Hercules grew up learning how to ride chariots, play musicand herd and tame horses. He married Megara, the daughter of King Kreos of Thebes, and together they had five children. Seeing his happiness, Hera placed a spell on him to cause him to murder his wife and children.
As payment for the killings, the god Apollo ordered Hercules to perform 10 labors for his cousin Eurystheus. Hercules:
- Killed the lion terrorizing Nemea
- Killed the Lernian Hydra
- Captured the Keryneian Hind
- Captured the Erymanthian Boar
- Cleared the Augean Stables in one day
- Killed the Stymphalian Birds
- Killed the Cretan Bull that was bothering Crete and Knossos
- Captured the mares of Diomedes
- Stole the girdle of the Amazon Queen Hippolyta
- Captured the cattle of the three-bodied Geryones
- Took the sacred apples of the Hesperides
- Captured Kerberos from Hades
The last two were accepted, bringing the total number of labors performed to 12.