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TitleLabors of Hercules 12 Elements of Alchemy
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Table of Contents
                            The Labors of Hercules
	Hercules' First Labor: the Nemean Lion
	Hercules' Second Labor: the Lernean Hydra
	Hercules' Third Labor: the Hind of Ceryneia
	Hercules' Fourth Labor: the Erymanthian Boar
	Hercules' Fifth Labor: the Augean Stables
	Hercules' Sixth Labor: the Stymphalian Birds
	Hercules' Seventh Labor: the Cretan Bull
	Hercules' Eighth Labor: the Horses of Diomedes
	Hercules' Ninth Labor: Hippolyte's Belt
	Hercules' Tenth Labor: the Cattle of Geryon
	Hercules' Eleventh Labor: the Apples of the Hesperides
	Hercules' Twelfth Labor: Cerberus
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

The Labors of Hercules

The Labors of Hercules
The goddess Hera, determined to make trouble for Hercules, made him
lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and
children.

When he awakened from his "temporary insanity," Hercules was shocked
and upset by what he'd done. He prayed to the god Apollo for guidance,
and the god's oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the king
of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years, in punishment for the murders.

As part of his sentence, Hercules had to perform twelve Labors, feats so
difficult that they seemed impossible. Fortunately, Hercules had the help
of Hermes and Athena, sympathetic deities who showed up when he
really needed help. By the end of these Labors, Hercules was, without a
doubt, Greece's greatest hero.

His struggles made Hercules the perfect embodiment of an idea the
Greeks called pathos, the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering
which would lead to fame and, in Hercules' case, immortality.

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The Labors of Hercules



To read more about Eurystheus and the reasons for Hercules' Labors, see
Further Resources.

● Labor 1: The Nemean Lion
● Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra
● Labor 3: The Hind of Ceryneia
● Labor 4: The Erymanthean Boar
● Labor 5: The Augean Stables
● Labor 6: The Stymphalian Birds
● Labor 7: The Cretan Bull
● Labor 8: The Horses of Diomedes
● Labor 9: The Belt of Hippolyte
● Labor 10: Geryon's Cattle

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Page 30

Hercules' Sixth Labor: the Stymphalian Birds

legs of birds.

(md)

To read more about these topics, see Further Resources.

● Labor 1: The Nemean Lion
● Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra
● Labor 3: The Hind of Ceryneia
● Labor 4: The Erymanthean Boar
● Labor 5: The Augean Stables
● Labor 6: The Stymphalian Birds
● Labor 7: The Cretan Bull
● Labor 8: The Horses of Diomedes
● Labor 9: The Belt of Hippolyte
● Labor 10: Geryon's Cattle
● Labor 11: The Apples of the Hesperides
● Labor 12: Cerberus

This exhibit is a subset of materials from the Perseus Project database and
is copyrighted. Please send us your comments.

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Page 31

Hercules' Seventh Labor: the Cretan Bull

The Cretan Bull
After the complicated business with the Stymphalian Birds, Hercules easily
disposed of the Cretan Bull.

At that time, Minos, King of Crete, controlled many of the islands in the
seas around Greece, and was such a powerful ruler that the Athenians sent
him tribute every year. There are many bull stories about Crete. Zeus, in the
shape of a bull, had carried Minos' mother Europa to Crete, and the Cretans
were fond of the sport of bull-leaping, in which contestants grabbed the
horns of a bull and were thrown over its back.


Bull fresco from the Palace of Minos in Knossos

Photograph courtesy of the Department of Archaeology, Boston University, Saul
S. Weinberg Collection

Minos himself, in order to prove his claim to the throne, had promised the
sea-god Poseidon that he would sacrifice whatever the god sent him from

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Page 60

Hercules' Twelfth Labor: Cerberus


Louvre E 701

Main panel: Hercules and Kerberos
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Musée du Louvre

(lmc)

To read more about these topics, see Further Resources.

● Labor 1: The Nemean Lion
● Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra
● Labor 3: The Hind of Ceryneia
● Labor 4: The Erymanthean Boar
● Labor 5: The Augean Stables
● Labor 6: The Stymphalian Birds
● Labor 7: The Cretan Bull
● Labor 8: The Horses of Diomedes
● Labor 9: The Belt of Hippolyte
● Labor 10: Geryon's Cattle
● Labor 11: The Apples of the Hesperides
● Labor 12: Cerberus

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Page 61

Hercules' Twelfth Labor: Cerberus

This exhibit is a subset of materials from the Perseus Project digital
library and is copyrighted. Please send us your comments.

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http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/copyright.html
mailto:[email protected]

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