HERCULES AND HIS TWELVE LABORS
Not born a god, Hercules achieved godhood at the time of his death because he devoted his life to the service of his fellowmen. Some authorities link Hercules with the sun, as each labor took him farther from his home and one of his tasks carried him around the world and back.
Hercules, the son of Jupiter and Alcmena. He is a mortal. As a child, he is the object of Juno's jealousy. Through her influence he is commanded to carry out twelve labors, in hopes that he will be killed in accomplishing one of them:
(1) he must strangle the Nemean lion;
(2) he must kill the nine-headed hydra;
(3) he must capture the dread Erymanthian boar;
(4) he must capture a stag with golden antlers and brazen feet;
(5) he must get rid of the carnivorous Stymphalian birds;
(6) he must cleanse the stables of Augeas;
(7) he must capture the sacred bull of Minos;
he must drive away the carnivorous mares of Diomedes;
(9) he must secure the girdle of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons;
(10) he must bring back the oxen belonging to the monster Geryoneus;
(11) he must bring back the golden apples of the Hesperides; and
(12) he must bring back Cerberus, the three-headed dog of the Underworld.
Jupiter, king of the gods, Hercules' father.
Alcmena, a mortal woman, Hercules' mother.
Juno, Jupiter's wife. Jealous of mortal Alcmena, she hopes to cause Hercules' death and thus be avenged.
Eurystheus, Hercules' cousin. Acting for Juno, he assigns the twelve labors.
Rhadamanthus, Hercules' tutor, killed by Hercules when he punishes the boy.
Amphitryon, Hercules' foster father. He rears the boy as a shepherd, high in the mountains.