December 17, 2012
Hercules: The trials and tribulations
One of the “best-known heroes” (History.com, 2012) of all time belongs to Greek mythology’s Hercules. Born into a powerful pantheon, he had already had enemies at his birth. Known, primarily, for his magnificent strength, Hercules is seen as the handsome hero, but he was also a tragic victim of the gods’ relentless battle over power; a pawn in an epic game. As the games of the gods are cruel and harsh, Hercules’ life as he knew it had been altered, sending him on odyssey that give us the great myths in literature today; giving us the epitome of the mythological hero. Born to the great god, Zeus, and Alcmene, the granddaughter of another prominent figure in Greek mythology, Perseus (History.com, 2012), Hercules’ birth was not met approvingly by all on Mount Olympus. Zeus, being an “unfaithful husband” (Wilson, 2005), had gotten another one of his mistresses pregnant. His jealous, goddess wife, Hera, had intended to kill the child when it was small and sent serpents into Hercules’ crib. Hercules, being a demi-god, possessed unnatural strength and killed the snakes. Still, over the years, Hera’s trickery had not ceased. About the time Hercules was a young man, he had a wife and family of his own. Hera cast out her most hideous trickery and drove Hercules temporarily insane, causing him to murder his loving wife and children (History.com, 2012). The jealousy of a great goddess and the tragedy she inflicted on Hercules changed the course of his young life. Overcome with extreme guilt and grief over what he had done, Hercules sought redemption from the god, Apollo, and as penance for his crimes was given 12 “heroic labors” (History.com, 2012), or tasks, to complete. Only after he had succeeded at all labors would his sins be forgiven. Hercules set out to complete these tasks, which any mere mortal would surely have failed at. He...