Who raised Hercules?

Heracles, Latin Hercules, was the most popular Greek hero, son of Zeus and Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon. His twin brother, the son of Amphitryon, was Iphicles. Kyparissus is a descendant of Heracles.

Out of jealousy, Hera delayed the birth of Heracles and hastened that of Eurystheus, so that Heracles lost the rule intended for him. When Hera wanted to kill the infant Heracles by two snakes, he strangled her.

He killed one of his teachers, Linos, with the kithara. The victorious fight against Erginos freed his hometown Thebes from paying tribute, whereupon King Creon of Thebes gave him his daughter Megara as his wife. In a fit of madness sent by Hera, Heracles killed Megara and the children she had borne to him because he believed them to be the children of his mortal enemy Eurystheus. Because of this and through Heras' cunning at the birth of Heracles, he had to do twelve difficult years, dangerous work (in Greek dodecathlos) in the service of Eurysteus, for which he was promised immortality.

Heracles had received the order from Eurystheus to free the valley of Nemea from a terrible lion, which had emerged from the union of Typhon and Echidna. But since Heracles could not harm the monster with either his club or his arrows, he finally strangled him with his bare hands. He returned to Tiryns with the slain animal on his shoulders. The lion skin is an important attribute of Heracles.

Hydra, a nine-headed water snake with the middle head immortal, was the land plague in Lerna. The monster was one of the children of Typhon and Echidna. Hera had specially wound it to put Heracles to the test. Herakles initially took on her with his club, but as soon as he had killed one head, two more grew at the point. With the help of his nephew Iolaos, he managed to burn the snake's wounds with blazing logs so that no new heads would grow back. Then he could burn the immortal head and buried it under a rock. Heracles smeared his arrows with the bile of the slain monster, which from then on caused incurable wounds.

In Keryneia, in Arcadia, lived a swift doe with golden antlers and brazen feet, sacred to Artemis. Heracles was not supposed to kill them, but to catch them alive. He chased her for a year, but then he had to kill her. When Artemis appeared angry before him and asked about the reason for this sacrilege, Heracles succeeded in appeasing her by assigning the blame to Eurystheus.

The swamp of Stymphalos was inhabited by man-eating birds of prey raised by Ares. Their wings, claws and beaks were made of bronze and their feathers were used as arrows. Heracles was supposed to scare them away on behalf of Eurystheus. He was helped by Athena, who offered him brazen rattles with which the hero scared the birds and then shot them in flight with arrows. The animals that escaped during the hunt flew to the Black Sea and found refuge there on Ares Island.

According to Eurystheus' will, a terrible boar lived on Mount Erymanthos, which Heracles had to bring alive to Tiryns. First Heracles lured him with his calls, then he drove him into a snowfield and was finally able to catch him there with his nets. When he came to Eurystheus with the animal on his shoulders, Eurystheus was so frightened that he fled into a barrel.

Eurystheus ordered Heracles to clean the stables of Augeias in one day. There were three thousand head of cattle in the stables. It hadn't been mucked out there for thirty years. Heracles asked Augeias a tenth of his cattle if he could clean it in a day. Then he led the rivers Alpheios and Peneios through the stables, which were quickly cleaned in this way. However, when Augeias found out that Heracles had acted on behalf of Eurystheus, he withheld the agreed wages. Heracles later retaliated by having the area around Elis destroyed.

The Cretan King Minos had asked Poseidon for a beautiful sacrificial animal, whereupon the god let a bull emerge from the sea. But when Minos saw the magnificent animal, he kept it with him and sacrificed another, less valuable bull instead. When Poseidon found out about this, he made the bull so angry as a punishment that in this state it caused great damage. Heracles was supposed to catch him, which he succeeded. He brought the bull to Greece by swimming, or, as Europe had done, he rode on his back. Eurystheus wanted to sacrifice it to Hera, but the goddess refused any gift from Heracles and the bull was released again.

Diomedes had four horses that ate human flesh. Heracles succeeded in catching them on behalf of Eurystheus and bringing them to the seashore, where he was however surrounded by the bistons. While he was fighting his pursuers, he left the horses in the care of Abderos, who quickly fell victim to them. The horses dragged him to death and tore him apart. Heracles defeated the bistons, killed Diomedes and threw him to the horses to eat, which then became tame. After he had given them to Eurystheus, he released them and later they were devoured by the predators of Olympus.

The queen of the Amazons Hippolyte had received a belt as a present from Ares, which the daughter of Eurystheus, Admete, coveted. Heracles was therefore commissioned to procure the belt. In Themiskyra he was first kindly received by the queen, but soon Hera incited the Amazons against him and a fight ensued in which the Amazons were defeated and Hippolyte was killed. Heracles captured the belt. On the way back, his ship docked in Troy, where he saved Hesione, the daughter of Laomedon, from the monster that Poseidon had set on her. The father had promised the divine steeds to the one who would kill the monster. Zeus had once given it to Tros, Laomedon's grandfather, as a replacement for Ganymedes who was kidnapped to Olympus. However, since this promise was not kept, Heracles swore that he would bring war to Troy, as it actually happened later.

On the island of Erytheia or the island of sunset, so named because it was where the sun went down (Balearic Islands), Geryoneus kept his huge herds of cattle, which were guarded by Orthos. Heracles was commissioned by Eurystheus to fetch them. To get to the western distance, he drove along the Libyan coast. Annoyed by the scorching heat of the desert, he threatened the god Helios that he would shoot him with arrows if he did not give him the golden one cups that the sun god climbed every evening to cross the Ocean. Helios lent him the cup and, as a reminder of his crossing, Heracles erected the pillars of Heracles on both sides of the strait that separates Libya from Europe.

When he entered the island of Erytheia, he killed the guardians of the cattle herd, the giant Euryton and the two-headed dog Orthos, and thus took possession of the herd. On his way back to Greece, Heracles took a northerly course, past the Spanish coast, Gaul, Italy, Illyria and Thrace. At the end of the journey he gave the remaining cattle to Eurystheus, who then sacrificed them to Hera.

On the occasion of her divine marriage to Zeus, Hera had received golden apples as a gift from Gaia, which she had left to the care of the Hesperides in the distant land of the Hyperboreans. In order to fetch them at the will of Eurystheus, Heracles set out in a northerly direction. He crossed Macedonia, reached Illyria, and came to the banks of the Eridanos, where the river nymphs told him that only Nereus could show him the place where the apples were. The old sea man Nereus, however, tried to escape him and knew how to transform himself into various forms: into snake, water and fire. But Heracles surprised him in his sleep and kept him tied until he gave information.

So he came to the Atlas Mountains, where he had to wrestle with Triton and Ladon. He did not pick the apples himself, but entrusted Atlas with this task, offering him the support of the heavy vault of the sky. The Titan returned with the apples, but was no longer ready to resume his old post. Heracles pretended to agree, but asked him, under the pretext of placing a cushion on his shoulders, to relieve him of the burden for a moment. But no sooner was the hero rid of the burden than he took the apples and ran away. After Eurystheus had received the golden apples, he gave them to Athena, who brought them back to their original place.

The next task was the hardest. Herakles had to capture the hellhound Kerberos in the underworld on behalf of Eurystheus.

Herakles was first initiated into the mysteries of Eleusis. From Tainaron in Laconia he came to the underworld. There he was able to free Theseus, who had dared to rob Persephone. Hades only allowed the hero to bring Kerberus out of the underworld if he did not use weapons to tame the dog. Heracles took hold of the animal by the neck and was able to do it in spite of the injuries inflicted on it by the dog's tail, which ended in a kind of scissors like those of a scorpion. He climbed up with the monster and came back to Eurystheus via Troizen, in Agolis. However, when he saw the hellhound, he hid in his jug in fear, similar to the boar from Erymanthos. Heracles, who also had nothing to do with the beast, finally brought it back to its master.

Heracles defeated Antaeus and Busiris.

He wrested Admeto's wife Alkestis from death. This story was discussed in ancient skepticism as an example of the unreliability of our experience (Admetos dilemma).

Heracles killed the eagle that ate Prometheus's liver. On the way to Colchis he lost his lover Hylas and missed the Argonauts' onward journey. He freed Hesione, killed Cyknos, fought with the Centaurs and took part in the fight against the giants.

His faithful charioteer and helper was Iolaos. Heracles' second wife was Deianeira, whom Heracles won from Acheloos in battle. After the murder of Iphitus, Heracles was struck by a serious illness. In Delphi, where he tried by force to obtain advice on the atonement of the blood guilt and robbed the tripod, he was determined to be sold as a punishment as a slave in the service of the Imphale. From the victorious campaign against Eurytus of Oichalia, Heracles brought home his beautiful daughter Iole as a prisoner. Out of jealousy, Deianeira sent him a robe soaked in the poisoned blood of the centaur Nessos.

Heracles put it on and, tormented by terrible agony, was burned at a stake on Mount Oite; in the process he was raptured into Olympus as a god. There he received Hebe as a wife.

In ancient times, Heracles was seen as the embodiment of strength, courage and bravery, as the victorious helper who freed people from suffering through work and persevering courage, as a softener of morals, as a helper in need and a savior. In this function, Roman emperors identified with Heracles (e.g. Commodus). The philosophers viewed him as a role model who had earned immortality through his achievements and through his decision to live a life of toil.

In the tales of Heracles at the Crossroads, the sophist Prodikos von Keos symbolically shaped the decision against the easy path of pleasure and for the laborious and renunciation of virtue.