Monday, January 30, 2012

Illustrations on the life and adventures of Hercules

Hercules is one of the most popular heroes of ancient Greece. He is the hero par excellence, who performed exploits, and he had confidence in his strength. However he does not always control his emotions, including anger and rage. This is probably why in  Athens (the city of the goddess of wisdom,) he has always preferred the hero Theseus (also author of exploits but also very intelligent and compassionate). However, his magnanimity is reflected in his repentance, remorse and his desire to repair his faults.

I) His birth and youth

He was born of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. To attract his mother, Zeus took on the appearance of her husband Amphitryon, who was away at war. Alcmene gave birth to twins: Hercules, son of Zeus and Iphicles, son of Amphitryon.

Hera was jealous, as usual, and she wanted to kill the hercules. She sent two serpents to go to the cradle and kill him. But Heracles strangled them. Hera did not give up, however, and continued his hatred of Hercules throughout his life.

He had a good education, with renowned masters, but he has not always been patient: he even killed his master with his lute instrument. Amphitryon was then sent to keep his sheep on Mount Cithaeron. Then he wondered about the meaning of his life, two women appeared to him, Pleasure and Virtue, the first offering him a life of pleasure and the second a life of toil and glory. He chose the latter.

II) His exploits

First he fought the Mycenaeans who were taking a heavy toll of the Thebans. In gratitude, they granted him the hand of the princess Mégarée. But Hera was watching and made hercules go crazy and he killed his wife and children. When he recovered because he saw the terrible carnage and not immediately understood that he was the muderer. Theseus, his friend, prevented him from committing suicide and took him to Athens. But Heracles felt sullied by this heinous crime and went to Delphi to know how he could atone for his crime and purify himself.

Pythia ordered him to go to his cousin Eurystheus, king of Mycenae (of Tiryns, according to other accounts) and comply with all its requirements as a penance.

Thus Eurystheus imagined a series of works, none of which had not be feasible. It must be said Hera, once again, was not far off: she advised Eurystheus in the choice of this work. These are the twelve labors of Hercules.

1) The twelve labors of Hercules
For him to kill the Nemean lion, kill the Hydra of Lerna, bring alive the deer of Artemis,
capture wild boar Erymanthian, clean the Augean stables, exterminate the birds Stymphalian, bring Cerberus from Hades, to seize the horses of Diomedes, take herds of Geryon, report the belt Hipppolyte queen of the Amazons, seek golden apples of the Hesperides garden,  tame the bull given to Minos by Poseidon.

2) The other exploits

When Heracles had expiated the murder of his wife and children, he went far to live a peaceful life. Indeed he defeated the giant Antaeus who forced passersby to fight against him and killed them. He even made a temple with the skulls of his victims. As he touched ground, he was invincible. This is why Hercules lifted him and strangled him.

Going in search of the golden apples, he passed through the Caucasus and Prometheus freed by killing the eagle devoured its liver.

While he was en route to his eighth work (the king's horses Diomedes), he went to his friend Admetus, King of Thessaly. The wife of the latter had died in an unusual way. Apollo (who had befriended Admetus during the year of slavery to which he was condemned by Zeus for killing the Cyclops, Zeus workers) had learned that The Fates (Fates) had spun all over the life of the king and were about to cut. He got them a favor Admetus would have stayed if he found a replacement. But nobody wanted to die in his place, not even his very old parents. Only his wife Alcestis consented. To console his friend, Hercules descended into Hades, fought against Cerberus and brought Alcestis.

Hercules is worshiped throughout the Greek world. He is known for its strength, endurance, compassion, but also for his gluttony and anger. Considered the solution against any danger, called upon at any time: he was  called "Alexikakos" meaning the embezzler of ailments.

Who is Hercules?

In this article, we will be looking at who hercules is and the whole story that has to do with him.
A. Who is Hercules? Hercules is a hero and a demigod, famous for his courage, bravery, strength, and his legendary exploits. He is the son of Zeus and Alcmene.
B. The early history of Hercules Zeus, the chief god, married a mere mortal, Alcmene, taking the appearance of her husband Amphitryon was away at war. Zeus and Alcmene had a child they named Heracles (Hercules in French). Hercules was afraid of nothing, he was incredibly strong. After a few years, he became colossal: he could not control his strength. No one dared challenge him in the race he was so fast. Hercules married then with Megara, daughter of Creon, king of Thebes, having prevented the army Erginus to conquer the kingdom of Thebes. They had several children. But Hera, the goddess wife of Zeus, who was furious that her husband has cheated with a mere mortal attacked Hercules. She asked the demon of insanity of the sting. Hercules went mad and with his bow, he killed his children. After realizing his crime, Hercules went in despair to Delphi to ask Apollo, the god of the arts. The god replied, through the oracle that, to repent, he should serve for twelve years, his cousin Eurystheus, king of Tyranthe. Hercules then went to see his cousin who ordered him to perform twelve labors.

1) The Nemean lion (Leo)
2) The Hydra (Cancer)
3) The doe Cérynie (Scorpion)
4) The Boar of Erymanthus (Balance)
5) The Augean stables (Aquarius)
6) The birds of Stymphalian (Sagittarius)
7) The Cretan bull (Taurus)
8) The mares of Diomedes (Gemini)
9) The Belt of Hippolyte (Virgin)
10) The oxen of Geryon (Poisson)
11) The golden apples of Esperides (Aries)
12) Cerberus, the three-headed dog (Capricorn)
Note: Each of the 12 labors of Hercules is a sign of the zodiac.
C. The twelve labors of Hercules

1) The Nemean lion
Eurystheus first asked the hero to bring him the skin of the Nemean lion. This terrible beast lived in a forest of Argolis. It was terrorizing the people of this region. Its roars were so chilling that shepherds and farmers were hiding in their homes.
Hercules, armed with a bow and arrows and a club headed for the den of the beast. One by one, he let fly his deadly arrows. Each found its target, but the animal was invulnerable, his skin was so tough that no arrow could not start. Arrows ridiculous ricocheted on earth. Hercules was not to impress, and a loud cry, he rushed at the monster brandishing his club.The lion, scared and surprised fled into his cave had two entrances. Hercules stopped up and entered one by the other. The beast, driven and roared, his mane bristling, began to jump. Hercules then raised his club and brought it down on the skull of the beast. The blow was so violent that the club broke in two. Half stunned, the lion was staggering. He threw his arms and hugged the lion of his strong arm and his strength was such that defeated the lion died suffocated. Hercules then skinned the animal and put on his fleece as a breastplate.

2) the Hydra
The second had to do work that Hercules was to kill the Hydra. The Hydra was a huge dragon reptile's body topped by nine heads. She lived in the dark swamps of Lerna. His breath was poisoned and devastated the surrounding countryside.
Hercules went to meet him Ialaos companion, who was driving the chariot of the hero. They soon found themselves at the edge of the marsh. Hercules sent a volley of arrows in the reeds and the Hydra, furious, appeared. He wanted to break down the ugly heads with clubs, but each head defeated, he was reborn two. Ialaos he called for help. It set fire to the nearby forest and, armed with torches began to burn each head reborn. Soon there remained only one. This one was immortal. Hercules the cut and buried under a rock. The monster was defeated. Hercules opened the body of the beast and picked his poison. He dipped his arrows and went poisoned.Hercules returned to the court of Eurystheus refused to count the number that feat Works, under the pretext that he had received outside help.

3) the hind feet of Brass
Eurystheus then ordered Hercules to bring him alive doe Mount Cyrénée. It was a wonderful deer with golden horns and brazen feet. She was so quick in the race no one could ever catch him. Dedicated to Artemis, she was one of the four hinds of the coupling of the goddess.It is in the woods of Oeno, in Argolis Hercules began to pursue the animal. The chase lasted a year. Leading his fighter with it, the deer ran to the land of the Hyperboreans, the magical land that extended beyond the regions of frost and snow. There, a perpetual spring reigned. Tired, then the doe turned his steps. Still rampant, still pursued by the hero, she reached the banks of the Ladon. She hesitated to cross the river which had been swelled the rainfall. Hercules took advantage of his indecision and fell upon her. He caught him with a net and the load on his broad shoulders. As he brought the animal, he met Artemis and Apollo, who made him reproach and demanded the doe. Hercules threw the blame on Eurystheus. The goddess gave him permission to bring animals to Tiryns, provided release then without it hurting.

4) the boar Erymanthus
Scarcely had he returned to the palace of his master, Hercules was ordered to go in search of wild boar Erymanthus. He had to capture and bring alive the court of Eurystheus. The boar was a wild beast that came out of his lair as to devastate the fields of Arcadia.Hercules went, armed with his bow and his club and began looking for the beast. He struck thickets and undergrowth and eventually find it. The ruthless hunt began. He pursued the wild boar to the top of snow covered mountains. There he caught the exhausted animal into a hole he had filled with snow to paralyze him before riding. He mastered his bare hands and bound him. He returned, carrying his heavy load on his shoulders and laid at the feet of Eurystheus, who says it, hid in a jar, terrified at the sight of the monster.

5) the Augean stables
Eurystheus ordered Hercules to go to the Augean stables. King Augeas lived in Elis in the Peloponnese. He was the son of Helios, the sun god and had many cattle he was tending to his kingdom of Elis. The stables, which were kept more than 3,000 cattle had not been cleaned for thirty years. They were encumbered with a manure so thick we could not remove the stench that was spreading around. Hercules was ordered to clean in one day.The hero opened breaches in the wall of the stables, then diverted the river Alpheus and passed its purifying waters and rushing through the stables. He then punched the holes. The stables again became clean and healthy.

6) Birds of Stymphalian
For his sixth labor, Hercules was challenged by Eurystheus to destroy the birds of Stymphalian. These monstrous birds lived in Arcadia in the middle of a swamp covered with thorns and brush. They attacked the locals using the tips of their feathers as arrows and steel feasted on human flesh. Their beaks, their talons and wings of brass. Not content to devour men and herds, the voracious birds devastated the gardens and crops defiled.

Puzzled, Hercules did not know what to do when Athena appeared to him and gave him a pair of cymbals, made the same metal as the beak, legs and wings of birds and forged by Hephaestus, the god of fire. He stood on a nearby mountain and made a deafening noise, flushing out and frightened the birds. The latter fled to the wing, which allowed Hercules to shoot them with his arrows.

This was the last work that the hero does in the Peloponnese.

7) The Bull of Crete
Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring the bull of Crete. Minos, king of Crete, had promised to Poseidon, the god of the sea, to sacrifice on behalf of what he would get out of the waves. Poseidon sent a bull to emerge from the waves of such beauty and such grandeur that Minos could not bring himself to sacrifice. Betraying his promise, he captured the bull and hid in their own herds. Enraged at this treachery, Poseidon made the furious animal. The bull became the terror of the country. Throwing flames from their nostrils, he destroyed the crops and fields burned.Hercules landed in Crete. When he saw the animal, he rushed upon him, seized him by the horns and forced him to bend the knees. The bull resisted, but Hercules was victorious in this titanic struggle, he mastered the animal with a net and carried him, crossing the sea to the feet of Eurystheus.

8) The Mares of Diomedes
Hercules was ordered to go to Thrace, to capturing the mares of Diomedes. Diomedes was a son of Ares and cruel ruler of a nation of savages. He had four mares that vomited fire and grazing in which he cast the strangers that rejecting the storm on the coast.
Hercules landed in Thrace and headed for the stables of Diomedes. He knocked the servants who tended the mares, seized by Diomedes and gave food to his own mares, making him the fate he had to endure so many survivors. When they were sated with the flesh of the king of Thrace, the mares left obediently capture and Hercules could take them with Eurystheus.

9) the belt of Hippolyte
The daughter of Eurystheus, Admetus, wanted the beautiful belt that had Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons. To please his daughter, the king ordered Hercules to go get her.

Hercules nine chartered vessels and boarded a troop of volunteers to address the land of the mythical warrior who lived in the distant Caucasus, bordering the Black Sea. The Amazons were a people without a male and had a reputation for mutilating the male children at birth. They united to men, they killed then that to keep their love of the female children they took off one breast so that these future warriors can easily handle the bow and the sword.

Hippolyte Hercules first received with great kindness and gave him her girdle as a token of his love. But Hera, disguised as Amazon, spread the news that Hercules had come off the queen. A terrible struggle ensued between the virgin warriors and soldiers of Hercules. Many of these fierce Amazons were killed, among them, Hippolyte was killed by Hercules, who seized the precious belt he gave to Admetus.

10) The oxen of Geryon
Eurystheus demanded that Hercules brought him the oxen of Geryon red giant, colossal, whose sides branched out into three. Geryon was king of Tarlessos, Spain, a city that was located in Andalusia. He owned a herd of cattle of great beauty, guarded by a shepherd, Eurythéon and a monstrous three-headed dog.

In obedience to this new order, Hercules went to the West along the African coast. Arrived at the strait that separates Europe from Africa, he erected two columns, one on each continent, to commemorate his visit. They are called from the Pillars of Hercules. Here, the sun, very hot, inconvenient Hercules, who drew his bow and shot an arrow against him. Amazed at his audacity, the Sun, to appease the mighty man of valor and allow him to continue his journey, lent him the gold cup that carries him across the ocean and the guide to the shores where it ascends to heaven to give light the Earth.

Hercules sailed into the cup and then reached the end of his journey. He spent the night in watching the flocks. The dog, alert, barking. Hercules killed him a blow. He suffered the same fate at the cowherd rushed to the aid of his dog, then he let fly an arrow at Geryon fatal pierced his three bodies simultaneously. Victorious, he brought the flock to Eurystheus.

11) Apples of the Hesperides Garden:
Just returned from that expedition, Hercules was ordered to bring to Eurystheus the golden apples of the Hesperides. Daughters of Atlas, the Hesperides lived in a wonderful garden where the trees were laden with golden fruit.
Hercules took the road to the West, but did not know where to find the mysterious garden. He wandered a long time and arrived on the banks of the Eridanus. There, nymphs advised him to go to Nereus. He found him asleep on the shore. Hercules bound him and ordered him to reveal the retreat of the Hesperides. To frighten Hercules, Nereus transformed himself into a lion, a serpent, in flames. But Hercules resisted and Nereus agreed to entrust the secret of the Hesperides.He left the confines of the Western world and reached the wonderful garden. He saw first Atlas, who held his head and hands the vault of heaven. Hercules asked him what was the means to seize the coveted apple. The giant offered to go pick them, but on two conditions. The first was the Hercules rid of the dragon Ladon, the hundred-headed monster, keeper of the garden. The second was that the hero dump his load while he would pick the apples. Hercules agreed. With one arrow, he pierced the hundred heads of the monster, who died at once. Then he put the heavens on his mighty shoulders. When Atlas returned with the precious apples, he said want to wear them himself to Eurystheus. Hercules pretended to agree, but asked Atlas to take a short time the sky, the time to slide a pillow under his head. Then he took the golden apples and ran to bring his booty to Eurystheus.

12) Cerberus, Guardian of the Underworld
As a final test, Eurystheus asked Hercules to come down to the Underworld and bring back Cerberus, the watchdog doors groundwater.
Athena and Hermes escorted him to hell. He reached the Styx and crossing large rivers of fire, he reached the foot of the throne of Hades. This allowed him to take Cerberus to the light of day if he could take control of the animal without the aid of any weapon.Cerberus was a monstrous dog who had three heads and whose body ended in a dragon's tail. His voice sound of brass terrorized all who approached him. Unarmed, wearing only the skin of the Nemean lion, Hercules came before Cerberus. He seized him by the neck, just where the three heads met and although bitten, squeezed so hard that the dog, feeling stifled, decided to follow the hero. Hercules went on the animal and pulling it out of the abyss, came to show it to Eurystheus. Terrified, he ordered the monster to return immediately to Hell.