What Is A Myth?
A myth is a purely fictional story that has been passed on for generations, usually involving supernatural persons, actions or events. Hercules (also called Herakles), is one of the strongest and most celebrated mythical heroes. These myths were made up thousands of years ago and have acquired more details as they have been passed down. The story of Hercules is one of a man who was so strong and courageous, whose deeds were so mighty, and who so endured all the hardships that were given to him, that when he died, Hercules was brought up to Mount Olympus to live with the gods.
Hercules was both the most famous hero of ancient times and the most beloved. More stories were told about him than any other hero. He was worshipped in many temples all over Greece and Rome.
Birth of a Hero
The legacy of Hercules began when Zeus, the chief god, fell in love with a mortal woman named Alcmene. When Alcmene’s husband, Amphitryon, was away, Zeus made her pregnant. This made the goddess Hera so angry that she tried to prevent the baby from being born. When Alcmene gave birth to the baby, she named him Herakles (Romans pronounced it "Hercules"). The name Herakles means "glorious gift of Hera". This made Hera even angrier. When Hercules was an infant, Hera sent two serpents to destroy him in his cradle. However, Hercules strangled them, one in each hand, before they could bite him.
When Hercules grew up and had become a great warrior, he married a young woman named Megara. They had two children together and lived very happily. However, things didn’t turn out as they do in the movie. One day, Hera sent a fit of madness to Hercules that put him into so great a rage, that he murdered his wife and both children. When Hercules regained his senses and realized what he had done, he asked the god Apollo to rid him of his sins. Apollo commanded that Hercules do certain tasks as punishment for his wrongs, so that evil might be cleansed from his spirit.
Apollo was a god of prophecy and the Greeks believed that Apollo knew what would happen in the future, and that he could advise people how to act. Hercules hurried to the temple where Apollo gave such advice. It was in the town o...
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...ra that Hercules had suffered enough, and Hera agreed. Athena was sent to retrieve Hercules from the pyre and to bring him back to Mount Olympus on her chariot. There, Hercules was to spend his life, as a god.
1. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia (1996) for Windows 95
2. Webster’s Concise Encyclopedia for Windows 3.1 or 95