Who was heracles?
Heracles was the son of Zeus by
Alcmene of Thebes in Boeotia, and
the favourite of his father.
His stepfather was Amphitryon.
Amphitryon was the son of Alcaeus,
the son of Perseus, and Alcmene
was a grand-daughter of Perseus.
So Heracles belonged to the family
Alcmene was King Electrion´s
daughter.While Amphitryon, her
husband, was absent from Thebes,
Zeus one night, to which he gave
the duration of three other nights,
visited Alcmene, and assuming the
appearance of Amphitryon, he
seduced her and she became
Spanish word ANFITRIÓN : HOST
Alcmene brought into the world two
boys, Heracles, the son of Zeus, and
Iphicles, the son of Amphitryon,
who was one night younger than
HÉRCULES as a child killing the
serpents s. II d.C.
Roma, Musei Capitolini
Heracles was only a few months old
when Hera sent two serpents into the
apartment where Heracles and his
brother Iphicles were sleeping, but
the former killed the serpents with his
own hands. Heracles was brought up
Though loved and protected
by his father, he was
repudiated by Zeus´ wife,
HERA. To insure his son's
immortality, ZEUS placed
him in the goddess's arms
so that he could suckle
while she was sleeping next
to her chariot pulled by
peacocks. When, in his
enthusiasm, Hercules bites
her, HERA awakens and
brusquely pulls him away
from her. The milk spilling
out of her breast turned
into the Milky Way. On the
left, ZEUS looks on. He is
identified by his eagle and
lightening bolts.RUBENS (1577-1640)
The Origin of the Milky Way.
El Prado Museum, Madrid
Hercules’ youth was spent in the
hands of the best teachers in Greece.
His father taught him to ride chariots
and tame horses. His music teacher
was Linus, son of Apollo, although
Hercules’ quick temper was
demonstrated when he killed Linus
with a blow from his stool (or lute).
Being charged with murder, Heracles
exculpated himself by saying that the
deed was done in self-defence. He
was then sent to live with centaurs in
the mountains and there he came
into contact with the wise centaur
Heracles attacks Lino, his music teacher
(c. 480 a.C.)
Why was he punished to do the labours?
In a fit of madness, induced
by Hera, he killed his own
children by Megara and two
of Iphicles. In his grief he
sentenced himself to
exile.He then consulted the
oracle of Delphi as to where
he should settle. The Pythia
first called him by the name
of Heracles (glory of Hera)--
his name had been Alcides
or Alcaeus,--and ordered
him to serve Eurystheus, the
king of Tiryns and Mycenae
for the space of twelve
years, after which he should
become immortal. Asteas Painter, 4th century
BC Madrid Museum
10 or 12 labours?
Eurystheus, who had become
King in his stead and was his
enemy, ordered him to carry
out ten tasks .
Heracles successfully carried
them all out, but Eurystheus
considered that two of the
tasks had been failed because
Heracles had been helped,
and allocated two more,
which Heracles also
completed, making 12.
Mosaic with the Labours of Hercules,
3rd Century AD,
National Archaeological Museum , Madrid
δώδεκα (12): dodecagon,
ἀθλητής , from ἀθλέω “compete
for a prize”, from ἆθλον , “prize”)
or ἆθλος ( “competition”):
His struggles made Hercules the perfect embodiment of an
idea the Greeks called pathos (any kind of passion,
feeling), the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering
which would lead to fame and, in Hercules' case,
conflict of the
Herakles Between Virtue And Vice
Emmanuel Michel Benner
After killing his music tutor Linus with a lyre,
Hercules was sent to take care of cattle on a
mountain by Amphitryon. Here, according to
an allegorical parable, "The Choice of
Heracles", invented by the sophist Prodicus
(ca. 400 BCE), he was visited by two
nymphs - Pleasure and Virtue - who offered
him a choice between a pleasant and easy
life or a severe but glorious life: he chose
The Choice of Hercules , Annibale Carracci, 1596
Capodimonte Gallery, Naples
It is also one of the most common conventional themes in literature, and is
sometimes considered to be a universal part of the human condition: the inner
struggle in characters (and by extension, humans in reality) between good and
evil. Joseph Conrad defined all humans as having an "inner evil" or Heart of
Darkness in his novel of the same name.
Some of the
Some of the places in Europe
mentioned in the stories of Hercules
also Olonos (Ωλονός)
is a mountain range in the southern
part of Achaea and the northeastern
part of Elis.
With an elevation of 2,224 meters, it is
the fourth-tallest mountain in the
On his way to hunt the boar, Hercules stopped to visit his friend Pholus, who was a
centaur and lived in a cave near Mount Erymanthus. Chiron was the leader of the
Centaurs. These creatures - half-man, half-horse were aggressive and warlike, Chiron
and Pholus being the only exceptions.
HERAKLES DRIVING CENTAUROS CHARIOT
Musée du Louvre, Paris,
Attic Red Figure
Attributed to the Nikias Painter
ca 410 - 400 BC High Classical period
Heracles at Pholus',
After eating a good meal, and
despite warnings from Pholus,
Hercules opened a cask of wine
belonging to all of the Centaurs.
They got angry and furiously
attacked Hercules but he managed to
overcome them and chased them to
Malea, the home of Chiron.
Engraving. Hercules fighting against the
Centaurs, Hans Sebald Beham,1542
Chiron was accidentally struck on the knee by one of Hercules' poisoned
arrows. Hercules tried to help his friend, former master, but the wound would
not heal, and Chiron seemed doomed to an eternal life of suffering, because he
However Zeus agreed that Prometheus should take over Chiron's immortality,
so the Centaur was freed from his agony and died.
He was then placed by Zeus in the heavens.
Chiron's name, Χείρων was derived from the Greek word for hand (χείρ), which also
meant "skilled with the hands." The name was also closely associated in myth with
kheirourgos or surgeon.
(χείρ): hand quiropractor, quiromancy, Quirófano (surgery room)
While Hercules was gone, Pholus examining one of the poisonous arrows let it fall on his
foot and died. So when Hercules returned, he found Pholus dead. He buried his centaur
friend, and proceeded to hunt the boar.
CUP OF PHOLUS
The drinking cup of the the centaur Pholos. It and its owner were placed amongst the
stars as the adjacent constellations Crater and Centaurus. (Hyginus 2.38)
To gain advice on how to catch the boar,
Chiron had told him to drive it into thick
snow, which sets this Labour in mid-winter.
Having successfully caught the Boar, Heracles bound it and
carried it back to Eurystheus.
Musée du Louvre, Paris,
Attic Black Figure
Shape: Amphora, Neck
Painter: Attributed to the Manner of
Lysippides Painter or to the Mastos Group
Date: ca 510 BC
A favourite subject for the vase-painters:
Heracles delivers the Erymanthian boar
to Eurystheus who cowers inside a buried
pithos vase, begging Heracles to get rid
of the beast. Athene observes the scene.
Pithos (Greek: πίθος ) is the Greek
name of a large storage container.
Here Hercules brings him the
boar alive and Eurystheus
hides in a bronze vase. He has
a, opposite to Hercules, weak
Temple of Zeus, Olympia (ca. 468-456 BC),
Reconstruction of Metope with the 12 labours of
The fifth Labor of Heracles was to clean
the Augean stables. This task was
intended to be both humiliating (rather
than impressive, as had the previous
labors) and impossible, since the livestock
were divinely healthy (immortal) and
therefore produced an enormous quantity
Augeas (or Augeias, Ancient Greek: Αύγείας), whose name means “bright”, was king of
Elis. Some say that Augeas was one of the Argonauts.
He is best known for his stables, which housed the single greatest number of cattle in
the country and had never been cleaned .
a British weekly magazine of humour and satire
Although this may seem a minor or
less known work, the truth is that it
has been represented in the most
varied media, especially with a
humorous or satirical purpose:
Relief in Rome Detail of The Twelve Labours Roman mosaic from
Llíria (Valencia, Spain), 3rd century AD.
Heracles had a brilliant idea and succeeded by rerouting the rivers
Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth.
Augeas was irate because he had promised Heracles one tenth of his cattle if the job
was finished in one day. He refused to fulfill the agreement, and Heracles killed him
after completing the task. Heracles gave his kingdom to Augeas’ son Phyleus, who had
been exiled for supporting Heracles against his father.
According to the Odes of the poet Pindar, Heracles then founded the Olympic
Ολυμπιακοί αγώνες, Olympiakoi Agones
“The games which by the ancient tomb of Pelops the mighty Heracles founded,
after that he slew Kleatos, Poseidon’s godly son, and slew also Eurytos, that he
might wrest from tyrannous Augeas against his will reward for service done.”
Temple of Zeus,
(ca. 468-456 BC),
Herakles sacked the city of Elis and instituted the Olympic Games in honor of his
father, Zeus. He taught men how to wrestle and measured out the stadium, or the
length of the footrace. At the first Games Hercules was the only contestant ( Well a
rather boring competition). This was possible for the running and throwing events but
it was a problem for boxing or wrestling and Zeus who was present at this first
Games finally entered the wrestling match against Hercules and they ended in a
The Olympic stadium course length was over
192 meters or 600 Hercules foot lengths that
provides an idea of Hercules foot size. The
length of the stadium was said to be the
distance that he could run in one breath.
The Mares of Diomedes, also called the Mares of
Thrace, were four man-eating horses,called Podargos
(the swift), Lampon (the shining), Xanthos (the
yellow) and Deinos (the terrible).
Διομήδους ἵπποι, hippoi (horses)
hippocampus, hippodrome, hippogriff, hippology, hippopotamus,
The mares of Diomedes, John
Borglum 1904 Sculptor of Mount
Magnificent, wild, and
uncontrollable, they belonged
to the giant Diomedes , king
of Thrace, son of Ares and
Cyrene who lived on the
shores of the Black Sea.
Detail of The Twelve Labours Roman mosaic from Llíria
(Valencia, Spain), 3rd century AD.
Βουκέφαλος, Bucephalus de
βούς (bus), "bull" y κεφαλή
(kephalē), “head", Alexander
the Great's horse, was said to
be descendant from these
Bucephalos & Alexander the
Great statue in Edinburgh
The modern boundaries of Thrace in Bulgaria,
Greece and Turkey
is a historical and geographic
area in southeast Europe,
centered on the modern borders
of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.
As a geographical concept,the
name comes from the Thracians,
an ancient Indo-european
people inhabiting Southeastern
Diomedes was king of the Bistones, a
very warlike Thracian people and he fed
his mares a diet of human flesh.
Temple of Zeus, Olympia (ca. 468-456 BC)
Reconstruction of Metope
According to Apollodorus, Hercules
sailed with a band of volunteers
across the Aegean to Bistonia. There
he and his companions overpowered
the grooms who were tending the
horses, and drove them to the sea.
But by the time he got there, the
Bistones had realized what had
happened, and they sent a band of
soldiers to recapture the animals. To
free himself to fight, Hercules
entrusted the mares to a youth
But during his absence the boy was
devoured. Herakles then fed the
beasts with Diomedes, stilling their
unnatural appetite with a meal of
their master's flesh.
Heracles built the town of Abdera, in
honour of his unfortunate friend.
Abdera,Overall view of city gate from outside
Heracles returned to Mycenae, with
the horses which had become tame
after eating the flesh of their
master. The hero took the mares
back to Eurystheus, but Eurystheus
set them free.
The mares wandered around until
eventually they came to Mount
Olympos, the home of the gods, where
they were eaten by wild beasts.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in Hercules, 2014
Euripides gives a different version of the story, which differs from Apollodorus's
in that Hercules performed the labour alone, rather than with a band of
followers. The four horses were joined to a chariot, and Hercules has to bring
back the chariot as well as the horses.
10. The oxen of
Geryon in Erytheia
These ten labours were performed by Heracles in the space of eight years and one
month; but as Eurystheus declared two of them to have been performed unlawfully,
he commanded him to accomplish two more.
In ancient Greek Archaic and Classical art Hercules is often depicted carrying a knotted
club, a quiver full of arrows, and wearing a lion’s pelt with sometimes also a lion’s head
helmet. He is usually bearded (until the late 5th and 4th centuries BC when he is more
often depicted beardless) and has very large eyes.
Representation in art
Glykon, reproduced from the original by Lysippos c. 216 AD (4th century BCE for original)
Location Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples
The earliest complete depiction of Hercules’ twelve labours is from the
metopes of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (completed in 457 BC).
In Greek Classical comic plays he is often somewhat parodied as a party
"Phlyax" scene (Zeus as
Amphitryo) — (source:
Vatican Museum). Aestas
painted a scene from a
phlyax farce: Zeus
carries a ladder in an
attempt to visit Alcmene,
wife of Amphitrion, who
appears at a window.
Hermes holds up a lamp
at the right.
On Greek coins (notably 5th century BCE Theban ones)
the infant Hercules strangling two snakes was a
BOEOTIA. Thebes (c.425-395 B.C.), Silver
Stater, 11.80g. infant Herakles.
Hercules was particularly
esteemed in Athens, which is
reflected in his frequent
depiction on Attic black- and
red-figure pottery in a multitude
of mythological scenes, but his
presence on pottery from all
over Greece is evidence of his
Heracles & the Nemean Lion, Athenian
red-figure stamnos C5th B.C., University
of Pennsylvania Museum
Heracles & the Hind, Athenian
amphora C6th B.C., British
The promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of
Gibraltar in Spain, the farthermost limits reached by
The Pillars of hercules