Hercules: Epic Hero

One of the greatest heroes of Greek mythology was Heracles. You probably know him by his Roman name, Hercules. Read about this popular ancient hero in Hercules: Epic Hero. Hercules: Epic Hero 1 Hercules was the son of the god Zeus, and a beautiful Greek woman. When Zeus’ wife, the goddess Hera, learned about the birth of Hercules, she was filled with anger. She tried to murder the child by placing two snakes in his crib, but the infant Hercules was so strong that he took the snakes in his tiny hands and strangled them. 2 Zeus made sure that Hercules was educated by great men. He was taught how to drive a chariot, how to be an excellent marksman with a bow and arrow, how to play music, and how to be a champion at fencing, wrestling, and boxing. By the time he was an adult it was clear that Hercules possessed superhuman strength. 3 Hercules married and had two children. But the goddess Hera never lost her hatred of Hercules. She was determined to ruin his life by making him as miserable as possible. When she saw how happy he was with his and ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. family, she cast a spell on him that caused him to become mad. In his state of uncontrollable madness, Hercules murdered his wife and children. When the spell wore off and he was himself again, he was devastated to learn what he had done. He was so filled with sorrow that he could not rest. 4 Hercules decided to go to Delphi and speak with the oracle there. He was so filled with remorse that he asked what he could do to punish himself for his horrible crime. The oracle told him to go to his cousin Eurystheus, who would then give him twelve labors to complete as his punishment for murdering his family. 5 The first labor assigned to Hercules was to kill the Nemean lion. This was no ordinary lion. It was a supernatural monster that could not be slain with arrows or spears. One by one, Hercules blocked all of the exits to the lion’s cave. He hid inside until he came face to face with the lion. They had a terrible fight, but Hercules was able to beat the lion with his own bare hands. The lion was defeated, and Hercules made a coat out of its skin and wore it proudly. 6 The second labor was far more difficult than the first one. This time Hercules was told to hunt and destroy the swamp-monster Hydra. Hydra was a serpent-like creature with nine heads. It was said that every time a head was removed, two more would grow in its place. In addition to the heads, Hydra’s breath was poisonous and deadly. Just one whiff of Hydra could kill an ordinary man. But Hercules went after Hydra with flaming arrows. He was accompanied by his nephew Iolaus, who had driven him to the swamp in a chariot. Hydra wrapped its heads around Hercules and called for help in the form of a giant crab that also lived in the swamp. The crab bit Hercules’ heel, causing him great pain. He yelled out to his nephew in the chariot. Iolaus grabbed the fiery arrows and ran to help Hercules. Every time Hercules chopped off one of Hydra’s heads, the nephew held the fire on the wound so another head would not grow in its place. Hercules chopped away at each head until he came to the last head. It was immortal, so Hercules cut it off and buried it beneath a rock, defeating Hydra at last with his nephew’s help. 7 Some of Hercules’ other labors were to slay a golden deer, catch a murderous wild boar, drive away a flock of wild birds that attacked humans, and steal Hera’s golden apples. But the twelfth and final labor was the most ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. challenging of all. Hercules had to go to Hades, or the Underworld, and take the beast that guarded the entrance to the world of the dead. The creature had three dog heads, a dragon as a tail, and the heads of snakes up and down its back. No man had ever entered Hades and returned to the world of the living. The god Pluto confronted Hercules and told him that he could take the beast if he fought him with just his own hands and nothing else. Hercules searched the rivers of the Underworld for the beast, and when he found him he wrestled him to the ground. The dragon tail bit Hercules, but not even that could stop him. Finally, Hercules overpowered the beast and brought him to Eurystheus. With the completion of the last labor, Hercules was done at last. 8 But Hercules’ bravery and adventures continued throughout his life. Perhaps his greatest feat of all was fighting the Giants. The Giants were monstrous gods whose parents were the Earth and the Sky. The Giants were as tall as the mountains and so strong that they were believed to be unbeatable. The Giants threw burning trees and rocks the size of houses at Mount Olympus. An oracle had been sent to the gods saying that they could only kill the Giants with the help of a mortal. The mortal was Hercules. He was carried by chariot to Mount Olympus where he could watch for the approaching Giants. When he spotted the first Giant, he shot him with an arrow and the giant fell to the ground. Soon other giants arrived, and all of the gods joined in the fight. Finally, Zeus was able to hit the Giants with his thunderbolts, and Hercules finished them off. 9 Hercules was so courageous throughout his life, that when he was dying, the gods brought him to their home on Mount Olympus out of respect for all the hardships he had endured. Hercules became immortal, and instead of dying like mortal men, he became a god. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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