Hercules Early Life and Labours


Hercules' Early Life

Birth of Hercules

Mortal Mother: Alcmene

Mortal "Father": Amphitryon

Immortal Father: Zeus

How Hercules was Concieved

  • Zeus disguised himself as Amphitryon and slept with Alcmene
    • Amphitryon was away at battle, so Zeus slept with Alcmene and when Amphitryon really returned, she slept with him aswell and was now expecting twins
  • Hera heard about Zeus' unfaithfulness through his boasting. Zeus claims that Hercules will rule the earth. Hera obviously gets annoyed at Zeus
    • Meanwhile, Sthenelus' wife (King of Mycenae) is also pregnant. Sthenelus is Amphitryon's uncle.
  • Hera uses this to her advantage and makes Zeus promise that whatever child born out of Amphitryon's family first will rule. Hera then sends Eileithyia (godess) to prolong Alcmene's labour, hoping it would result in her death.
    • Sthenelus' child is born first and then Hercules. Hera is annoyed that Hercules was born and sends two snakes to kill him which fails

Eurystheus is Sthenelus' son

Heracles' Twin: Iphicles

Hercules' Early Life

  • Married Megara (Creons daughter, King of Thebes) and had children
  • Hera still massively disliked Hercules and makes him go mad
    • This results in him killing his wife and children


  • Hercules feels terrible and exiles himself. He visits the Pythia at Delphi

Pythia - the priestess at Delphi who can tell the future

  • Hera stops the Pythia and Hercules grabs the tripod and tries to force her to tell him
  • Apollo appears and they have a fight. Zeus appears and intervenes
    • He eventually gets his oracle: He has to serve Eurystheus for 10 years (12 labours in total). Eurytheus then thinks up 10 seemingly impossible labours
    • Hercules gets payed or helped on 2 labours therefore they don't count and he gets another two.
  • They are depicted on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, inside the colonade. 6 at the front, 6 at the back
  • Hercules - Legendary founder of the Olympic games. He was strong, powerful and fast = all things needed to be in the Olympics

Hercules' Labours

1. The Nemean Lion 

  • A lion was sent down by Hera - skin is impenetrable by weapons
  • Hercules ends up strangling it to death but has to bring proof of his triumph
  • Athena advises him to uses the lions own claw to skin it. He does this and brings the skin to Eurystheus
    • The lion skin becomes a very recognisable feature of Hercules
  • The lion was terrorising mankind and so by killing it, Hercules helps everyone

2.  The Learnean Hydra*

  • Hera sends down a hydra with multiple heads and Hercues gets help from his cousin, Iolaus
  • Everytime you chop a head off, another two grow. Hercules solved this problem by sealing the wound with fire 
  • Hera, annoyed with his sucess, sends down a giant crab but he simply crushes it
  • Once cutting all the heads off, he buries them under rocks. He uses the poisonous blood of the hydra to cover the tips of his arrows
  • This labour does not count because Hercules got help from his cousin




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