A brief summary on the life of the Greek mythological hero Hercules.
Heracles, better known by his Roman name Hercules, is perhaps the most widely-known and written about hero of Greek mythology. Behind his very complicated mythology there was probably a real man, perhaps a chieftain vassal of the kingdom of Argos. Traditionally, however, Hercules was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, granddaughter of Perseus. Zeus swore that the next son born of the Perseid house should become ruler of Greece, but by a trick of Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera, another child, the sickly Eurystheus, was born first and became king; when Hercules grew up he had serve him and also suffer the vengeful persecution of Hera. His first exploit, in fact, was the strangling of two serpents she had sent to kill him while he was still in the cradle.
Later, Hercules waged a victorious was against the kingdom of Orchomenus in Boeotia and married Megara, one of the royal princesses. But he killed her and their children in a fit of madness sent by Hera and, consequently, was obliged to become a servant of Eurystheus. It was Eurystheus who imposed upon Hercules the famous Labors, later arranged in a cycle of 12:
1. The slaying of the Nemean lion, whose skin he thereafter wore.
2. The slaying of the 9-headed Hydra of Lerna.
3. The capture of the elusive hind of Arcadia.
4. The capture of the wild boar of Mount Erymanthus.
5. The cleansing, in a single day, of the cattle stable of King Augeas of Elis.
6. The shooting of monstrous man-eating birds of the Stymphalian marshes.
7. The capture of the mad bull that terrorized the island of Crete.
8. The capture of the man-eating mares of King Diomedes of the Bistones.
9. The taking of the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons.
10. The seizing of the cattle of the tree-bodied giant Geryon, who ruled the island Erytheia in the far west.
11. The bringing back of the golden apples kept at the world’s end by the Hesperides.
12. The fetching up from the lower world of the triple-headed do Cerberus, guardian of its gates.
Having completed the Labors, Hercules undertook further enterprises, including warlike campaigns. He also successfully fought the river god Achelous for the hand of Deianeira. As he was taking her home, the Centaur Nessus tried to violate her, and Hercules shot with one of his poisoned arrows. The Centaur, dying told Deianeira to preserve the blood from his wound, for anyone wearing a garment rubbed with would love her forever. Several years later Hercules fell in love with Iole, the daughter of Eurytus, king of Oechalia. Deianeira, realizing that Iole was dangerous rival, sent Hercules a garment smeared with the blood of Nessus. The blood proved to be a powerful poison instead, and Hercules died. His body was placed on a pyre on Mount Oeta, his mortal part consumed and his divine part ascending to heaven. There was reconciled to Hera and married Hebe.
In most art and literature, Hercules is portrayed as being superhumanly strong as well as being a heavy eater and drinker, very amorous and generally kind however with occasional outbursts of brutal rage. His characteristic weapon was the bow but frequently also the club.
In Italy he was worshipped as a god of merchants and traders, although others also prayed to him for his characteristics gifts of good luck or rescue from danger.