Heracles was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus. He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules.
Hera and Zeus are married, although they were always falling in love with mortals. Obviously, neither of them liked it when the other fell in love. One of Zeus's half-blood children was Hercules. (of course this means Hercules's mother was mortal) Hercules' mother Alcmena had no interest in Zeus and did not know that Zeus was the person she thought was her husband. Nine months later Alcmena gave birth to Hercules, son of Zeus. Zeus was thrilled, but Hera was very unhappy. Angry Hera sent 2 large snakes after Hercules to crush him in his sleep. The snakes glided soundlessly across the floor. They got ready to attack Hercules. Then, out of nowhere, Hercules jumped out of his crib. He grabbed the snakes and strangled them both. The next morning, servants entered the room. They were very surprised at what they saw. Two huge snakes lay dead upon the floor and baby Hercules was laughing in his crib. Zeus Hera failed to kill Hercules as a child. That did not stop her from trying again and again as he grew up. Hera learned that Hercules was hard to kill. He had inherited amazing strength from his father, Zeus. Once Hera realized that she couldn't defeat Hercules by herself, she asked other gods to help her. Many of the gods were jealous of Hercules' strength and agreed to help Hera. Zeus knew what Hera was planning. He asked the rest of the gods to help him protect Hercules. Zeus One of Hercules' first battles was against Cyncus, the cruel son of the war god, Ares. He lived in Thessaly in northern Greece. Cyncus was building a temple to his father. He attacked pilgrims on their way to the temple, killed them, and stole their belongings. Their skulls became building blocks of the temple of Ares. Hercules was passing the temple when Cyncus dared him to a fight. Their battle didn't last long. Hercules won. Hera Next, Hercules fought Syleus, a cruel outlaw. Syleus grabbed passing strangers and forced them to work in his vineyards. When they finished their jobs, he murdered them. Hercules killed Syleus and brought an end to his reign of terror. Athena Hercules was strong enough to fight against armies of men. The Lapiths were a fierce tribe. Their name means "men of stone or flint." They were the enemies of the centaurs and fought many battles with these half-men, half-horse creatures. The centaurs asked Hercules to defeat the Lapiths. Hercules did in a huge bloody fight. In thanks, the centaurs gave Hercules one third of their kingdom. Athena Hercules' next big battle was against the cruel King Erginus. A group of Greeks from the city of Thebes had killed King Erginus's father, Clymenus. In revenge, Erginus captured Thebes.He captured Thebes. He demanded a payment of 100 oxen each year for 20 years from its people. This injustice angered the goddess Athena. She knew Hercules was strong enough to fight Erginus, so she sent him to free Thebes. Hercules cleverly ambushed Erginus and defeated him. The king of Thebes, Creon, was grateful to Hercules. When Hercules fell in love with Creon's daughter, the king happily gave his blessing to the marriage. Hercules married Megara (Creon's daughter) in a royal wedding at Thebes. They had three sons. For a time Hercules was very happy but when Pyraechmus attacked Hercules' new home, Thebes, that changed. Pyraechmus was king of the Euboeans. He wanted to kill Hercules in revenge for the death of his friend Erginus. Hercules' easily beat the Euboeans. As punishment he tied King Pyraechmus between two horses. Hercules then watched as the horses then tore the king's body in two. This cruel act horrified the people of Greece. Pyraechmus' body was left on the banks of the river Heracleius not buried. This was a terrible crime. The gods had ruled that the people should be given a proper burial! When Pyraechmus was defeated, Hera became filled with anger. She put a magic spell upon Hercules. This spell made Hercules think his family was enemy warriors. He killed his wife and his children. Hercules regretted his actions the instant the madness wore off. Full of grief, he locked himself away to think about what to do next. Hercules made up his mind to ask the gods for help. He went to Apollo's temple to see the oracle. Hercules asked her what he could do to make up for his crimes. Hercules did not know Hera controlled the oracle and influenced her words. The oracle told Hercules to be the slave of King Eurystheus for 12 years. Artemis Eurystheus had become king of the Tiryns, an important land because of Hera's help. Therefore, whatever Hera asked him to do, he did. Hera and Eurystheus planned to kill Hercules. They would assign him to dangerous tasks no one could complete and live. If he survived there would be one labor for each of Hercules 12 years of slavery. The twelve tasks are as follows:
1 - King Eurystheus demanded that Hercules killed the lion of Nemea. The creature had magical skin and was huge and cruel. No arrow or spear could pierce his thick hide.
2 - Hercules was sent to kill the nine headed water snake, the Hydra. Every time a head grew in, two more grew in it's place.
3 - Hercules had to capture a golden hind alive. This animal is special to Artemis.
4 - A giant wild boar was attacking the people in the countryside of Erymanthus and Hercules was sent to capture it.
5 - Hercules was sent to clean out the stables of King Augeas. The stables had never been cleaned before, they were covered in manure. Hercules was given only one day to clean them.
6 - Hercules was ordered to kill a flock of killer birds called Stymphalian Birds. Stymphalian Birds had beaks, talons, and wings made of iron. They also had arrow-tipped feathers.
7 - Hercules was ordered to trap a fire breathing bull. The bull was supposed to be sacrificed, but it wasn't so the gods drove it crazy.
8 - Hercules was sent to capture a herd of man-eating horses and bring them to King Eurystheus.
9 - Princess Admete wanted to wear the golden belt worn by Hippolyte (the Amazons queen). Eurystheus sent Hercules to get the belt. When Hercules arrived and asked for the belt Queen Hippolyte agreed to his request. Hera didn't want Hercules to finish another task so she disguised herself to get in his way. She disguised herself as an Amazon and spread stories that Hercules was going to kidnap the queen. The warriors were angry and attacked Hercules. During the battle, Hercules killed Hippolyte and took the belt.
10 - Hercules was told to kill Geryon, a three headed monster. He had to steal the red cattle that belonged to Geryon.
11 - Hercules was sent to steal the golden apples that were a wedding present to Hera. Atlas' daughters guard the apples. Atlas was the titan that held up the sky and only his daughters could pick the apples. Hercules offered to help Atlas by holding up the sky if Atlas ordered his daughters to pick apples. When Atlas' daughters were finished, Atlas would not take back the sky. Hercules then had to lie to him in order to escape with the apples.
12 - King Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the three headed dog, Cerberus from the underworld (where he guards dead people). Even though Eurystheus wanted Cerberus, he was terrified when Hercules brought Cerberus to him because he is a dangerous dog.
Hermes Hercules was finally free. Before long Hercules had married Deianira, a wonderful woman. After Hercules got married, the centaur, Nessus attacked Deianira, trying to ruin Hercules' happiness. But, Naturally, Hercules killed him. Deianira had been given drops of Nessus' blood before he died. He promised her it was magic and would keep Hercules in love with her. After many years, Deianira became worried that Hercules no longer loved her. She put some of The blood on his shirt. But the blood was poison. When Hercules put on his shirt, the poison burned his flesh. Hermes The dying Hercules lye on a burning funeral pyre. But he did not die, Zeus sent his magic thunderbolts to rescue him. Hercules rode on Zeus's chariot away from Earth. He traveled to Olympus, were Zeus made him immortal. When she realized Hercules was no threat to her, Hera forgave him. From then on Hercules live a peaceful life with the gods.