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Thomas 1 Elizabeth Thomas Diana G.

Cassel ENGL 103 5 July 2013 The Road to Immortality The story of Heracles is a well know Greek myth. From the Disney movie adaptation to the stories of Heracles from ancient writers, Heracles story has been told to the masses for centuries. He is known for gaining immortality, his extreme strength, and his overall good guy personality. His is best known for the Twelve Labors that he performed for Eurystheus to gain immortality. Heracles story started with his unusual conception. Zeus disguised as Alcmenas husband, Amphitryon, visited her bed the night before Amphitryon. Which was said to lead to Alcmena becoming pregnant with twins, one being Zeus son and one being Amphitryons son. Hercules was the elder, born first by one night, and is Zeus son. When Hera learned of Heracles birth she sent two serpents to kill him. This was Heracles first fight for his life. As told by Pindar in the Nemean Odes, But Heracles lifted up his head and for the first time made trial of battle; with his two hands, from which there was no escape, he seized by their necks the two serpents and his grip squeezed the life out of the huge monsters, strangling them (33-47). Heras hatred for Heracles also leads to him murdering his wife, Megara, and their three children in a fit of madness caused by Hera. While being purified for his sins he is told of the prize of becoming immortal by performing the Twelve Labors from a priestess of Apollo. This begins Heracles journey on the road to immortality. The list of labors performed by Heracles varies by author. Though commonly the first six labors were said to be performed in the northern Peloponnese with the remaining six taking place around the world. In the myth of the Twelve Labors Heracles is the hero who travels the world gaining more attention with each successful completion of a Labor. Throughout his travels completing the Labors Heracles meets many different people and is a part of many parerga or

Thomas 2 side adventures. During the fifth labor, The Augean Stables, Heracles was said to have instituted the Olympic Games, the greatest of Greek festivals, held every four years in honor of Zeus (Lenardon, Morford & Sham, 2011). Heracles key role in the Labors is that of the hero that achieves greatness. During the twelve years he spent completing the labors Heracles grew not only as a person but also as public figure for mortals. The myth of the Twelve Labors suggests a growth in Heracles. The strength, cleverness, and dedication that it took to complete each labor suggest that Heracles was already a god among men. Though the labors were difficult, Heracles completed each task set upon him. As Heracles ghost says in Homers play the Odyssey, I was a son of Zeus, but infinite was my suffering; for I was a slave to a far inferior mortal, and heavy were the labors he laid upon me (620-633). Heracles put aside his suffering and pride so that he could achieve his ultimate goal of becoming immortal. Being able to swallow your pride and complete the job is something that everyone should aspire to be able to do. This is a direct reflection on the character of Heracles. The diverse scenery and traveling in the Twelve Labors suggests that Ancient Greeks were in a time of growth. While on his travels to complete the Labors Heracles founded several cities. He is also said to have to led armies and been the cause to more than one area receiving a new monarchy. Heracles was the figure head for new growth at this time, he changed from a local hero into the benefactor of all of humankind (Lenardon, Morford & Sham, 2011). Everywhere he went he effected change. Nothing was left the same in his path to greatness. His extreme strength and dedication to the Labors suggest that Ancient Greeks were just as determined in their quest for further greatness. As each labor got progressively harder Heracles had to rely on his wit and the influence and help of others to help him effect change. It has been said that Heracles established the limits of the ancient world. Heracles story is the motto of rising above your hardships and conquering the world.

Thomas 3 With such a widely know story there are many different adaptations of the Twelve Labors. One of the biggest discrepancies is the timeline in which the Twelve Labors occurred. Euripides in Heracles places Heracles wife Megara and their children death after Heracles completed the labors. Heracles in Sophocles Trachiniae marries his second wife Deianira before he performs the Labors. There have also been different labors suggested as the Twelve Labors that Heracles performed. Though, the labors that are traditional presented are the twelve that were represented on the metopes of the temple of Zeus (Lenardon, Morford & Sham, 2011). Heracles story has been told throughout the centuries and has stood the test of time as one of the greatest stories of triumph. Heracles is the hero who led the Ancient Greeks in a time of growth. His path on the road to immortality may be a little different depending on where you hear it but one fact remains the same, Heracles was a hero.

Thomas 4 Works Cited Euripides, Heracles 352-427 Homer, Odyssey 11.620-633 Lenardon, R. J., Morford, M. P. O., & Sham, M. (2011).Classical mythology. (9th ed., pp. 565566). New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. Pindar, Neymean Ode 1.33-72 Sophocles, Trachiniae (Women if Trachis) 513-525