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Clash of the Gods: Hercules
December 14, 2011
The tale of the strongest superhero in Greek mythology and his quest for redemption. To atone for committing a heinous crime, Hercules embarks on a series of impossible challenges known as the 12 Labors. Hercules endures as one of history's most influential demi-Gods, but recent archaeological discoveries suggest that mythology's strongest man may have been inspired by a real person.
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter), and the mortal Alcmene. Early Roman sources suggest that the imported Greek hero supplanted a mythic Italic shepherd called "Recaranus" or "Garanus", famous for his strength who dedicated the Ara Maxima that became associated with the earliest Roman cult of Hercules. While adopting much of the Greek Heracles' iconography and mythology as his own, Hercules adopted a number of myths and characteristics that were distinctly Roman. With the spread of Roman hegemony, Hercules was worshiped locally from Hispania through Gaul.
According to mythology, Hercules was the illegitimate son of Jupiter (Zeus) and Alcmene, the wisest and most beautiful of all mortal women. Juno (Hera) was enraged at Jupiter for his infidelity with Alcmene, and even more so that he placed the infant Hercules at her breast as she slept and allowed him to feed, which caused Hercules to be partially immortal, thus, allowing him to surpass all mortal men in strength, size and skill.
Juno held a spiteful grudge against Hercules and sent him into a blind frenzy, in which he killed all of his children and his wife. When Hercules regained his sanity, he sought out the Oracle at Delphi in the hope of making atonement. The Oracle ordered Hercules to serve Eurystheus, king of Mycenae, who sent him on a series of tasks known as the Labors of Hercules.