Who Was Hercules?


Quick Answer

The son of the Greek god Zeus, Hercules was the greatest hero and warrior in the Greek and Roman myths. Worshiped across Greece and Rome, he was the son of Alcmene, who was impregnated by Zeus, the king of the gods.

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Full Answer

Hera, Zeus' wife, hated Hercules because of her husband's infidelity. She sent Hercules into a rage during which he killed his wife and family. When he regained his senses, he begged the god Apollo to cleanse his spirit. Apollo demanded that Hercules do 12 heroic tasks to purify himself. As a reward for these tasks, he would receive immortality. These tasks are described in legend as the 12 labors of Hercules.

When the tasks were completed, Hercules took a second wife and continued his adventures. He rescued a Trojan princess from a terrible sea monster, and he helped Zeus defeat Giants who were battling for his throne on Mount Olympus. Hercules' life ended when his wife inadvertently exposed him to a poison which caused him unbearable pain. He chose to end his life and told his friends to create a funeral pyre for him. Before he burned, Zeus asked Hera to forgive Hercules. She did and brought him to Mount Olympus in her chariot.

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