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HerculesHurcules Life:

Zeus fell in love with a beautiful Greek woman named Alcmene [Alk-ME-ne]. When Alcmene's husband, Amphitryon, was away, Zeus made her pregnant. This made Hera so angry that she tried to prevent the baby from being born. When Alcmene gave birth to the baby anyway, she named him Herakles. (The Romans pronounced the name "Hercules," and so do we today.) The name Herakles means "glorious gift of Hera" in Greek, and that got Hera angrier still. Then she tried to kill the baby by sending snakes into his crib. But little Hercules was one strong baby, and he strangled the snakes, one in each hand, before they could bite him. Hera remained angry. How could she get even? Hera knew that she would lose in a fight, and that she wasn't powerful enough to prevent Zeus from having his way. Hera decided to pay Zeus back for his infidelity by making the rest of Hercules' life as miserable as she could.
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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