Hera and Hercules: The Detrimental Relationship Between the Goddess and the Hero

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Hercules is best known for his twelve labours. That said, few people actually know why Hercules had to perform these labours. He is the man of everyone’s dreams – men and women alike. He had the physique, the complexion, the heritage, and the romance. Because of Hercules’ ancestry, he is automatically considered a hero. This is because of the globally accepted equation: God + Mortal = Hero (Rouse, 1957, p. 55). Greek mythology tells us that Hercules’ birth was actually a result of rape. Zeus had come down to Alcmene, the mortal wife of king Amphityron, disguised as her husband, and made love with her. After Zeus left, Amphityron returned and also slept with his wife. As a result, Alcmene had twins, Iphicles and Hercules. Because Zeus knew what kind of child Alcmene would soon be having, he said that the next boy born would be the future king of Olympus. Hera, Zeus’ wife, was never content when Zeus had a child with another woman, let alone a mortal woman, and especially one with such a promising future. As a result, she postponed Hercules’ birth so that his first cousin, once removed, would be the one receiving Zeus’ prophecy. Hera did not stop there though. Once Hercules was born, she sent two serpents to kill him. Yet this didn’t go as Hera had planned. Even as a baby, Hercules had enough strength to strangle the serpents and cast them aside. After that, Hera left Hercules without disturbances for a few years. Once he was a grown man, however, with a life full of potential, a loving wife and healthy sons, Hera decided to bring her wrath upon him once again. She sent fits of madness upon him causing him to kill his wife and sons. When Hercules came to, he couldn’t live with the guilt of his sins. He went to the oracle of Delph... ... middle of paper ... and strain are at the demigod’s mythic core” (Simmons, 2008, p. 635). The saying: “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” proves to be true yet again. In order to see a person/god/hero for who they really are, we need to look deep. Yes Hercules was heroic but what led to his heroism is overseen by most. If someone commits murder, intentional or not, but the rest of their life is full of determination and heroic moves, are they truly a hero? Works Cited Grant, M. (1962). Myths of the Greeks and Romans (1st ed.). Cleveland: World Pub. Co. Herzberg, M. J. (1984). Myths and their meaning. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Rouse, W. H. (1957). The Heroes: Heraclês. Gods, heroes and men of ancient Greece. New York: New American Library. (Original work published) Simons, P. Hercules In Italian Renaissance Art: Masculine Labour And Homoerotic Libido. Art History, 31, 632-664.
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