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Herakles, also known by Hercules in Roman mythology, was a legendary Greek hero. The demi-god son of Zeus, Herakles was born to Alkmene and was the half-brother of Perseus, as well as his great-grandson.
The goddess Hera resented Herakles due to him being another illegitimate child of Zeus, as a result, she set out to make Herakles' life as miserable as possible. As a child, he was found by a kindly old couple, Amphitryon and Alkmene, and was raised by them. During his infancy, Hera sent two snakes to kill him, but he squeezed them to death.
Herakles' most famous weapon was his club, a branch of a wild olive tree in Argolis. This was taken and hidden from him by the Cercopes, mischievous wood spirits, and the club was said to have sprouted roots and leaves when it hit the ground.
Labours of Herakles
Among his many adventures, the most famous were the Twelve Labours. When Herakles married and had children, Hera drove him mad and made him attack and kill his family. Serving his cousin, King Eurystheas of Mycenae, Herakles was given the task of completing Ten Labours. However, after completing ten, Eurystheas discounted two, and thus demanded Herakles to complete two more, raising the number to twelve. In some of these, Herakles was aided by companions, most notably Abderos and Iolaos.
His labours were as follows:
- 1. Slay the Nemean Lion
- The hide of the Nemean Lion was said to be impervious to fire or weapons. Herakles cunningly trapped it in its den and strangled it with his own two hands. After succeeding he wore its hide as a cloak for the remainder of his journeys.
- 2. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra
- Herakles killed the hydra by cutting off each of its heads and cauterizing its necks to prevent them from growing back.
- 3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis
- After chasing the Hind for a year, Herakles succeeded in capturing it and presented it to Eurystheas.
- 4. Capture the Erymanthian Boar
- Herakles tracked the Erymanthian Boar near a forest in Elis where he also met and killed the centaur Pholos. He was eventually also successful in capturing the boar.
- 5. Clean the Augeian stable
- the Augeian stable was the home of over 1,000 immortal cattle which belonged to King Augeias of Elis. Herakles accomplished the near-impossible task by diverting the rivers Alpheios and Pineios to run through the stable .
- 6. Slay the Stymphalian birds
- After the man-eating birds of Stymphalos begun to be a menace to men as well as livestock, Herakles was sent to slay the fearsome birds, ending their plight.
- 7. Capture the Kretan Bull
- After subduing the father of the Minotaur, Herakles delivered it to Eurystheas. The beast was set free and it rampaged again until it was killed by Theseus.
- 8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes
- The man-eating mares of King Diomedes of Thrace were retrieved by Herakles who fed them their owner.
- 9. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons
- Hippolyta was an Amazon queen and she had a girdle given to her by her father. Herakles had to retrieve the girdle and return it to Eurystheas.
- 10. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon
- The next challenge was to capture the herd guarded by a two-headed dog called Orthos, the herdsman Eurytion and the owner, Geryon; a giant with three heads and six legs. He killed the first two with his club and the third with a poisoned arrow. Herakles then herded the cattle to Eurytheas.
- 11. Steal the golden apples of the Hesperides
- Aided by Athena, Herakles succeeded in stealing the apples from the garden of the Hesperides. After tricking the Titan Atlas, Herakles walked away with the fruits.
- 12. Capture and bring back Cerberos
- His final and most difficult labour was to capture the Underworld's guard-dog Cerberos. To accomplish this, Herakles went to Tainaros, the so-called gateway to the Underworld guarded by Cerberos and captured it. Herakles took the creature back to Mycenae, causing Eurystheas to be fearful of the power and strength of this hero.
Ultimately, Herakles was poisoned by one of his own arrows. The poison ate at his flesh, and knowing he was dying, Herakles tore the tallest trees he could find from their roots and built his funeral pyre before succumbing to the poison.
In a simulation created by the Isu Aletheia, Herakles's soul resided in a vault inside the prison fort of Tartaros within the Underworld. During the Peloponnesian War, he met the Spartan misthios Kassandra, who was sent by Hades to recruit him as a guardian of the Underworld. After being defeated by Kassandra in combat, Herakles agreed and traveled to the Gate of the Strong to defend it.
Legacy and influence
In 5th century BCE Herakles was widely celebrated all over Greece, whether by word of mouth or as statues and in murals. A tradition held that the island of Mykonos was built from the petrified corpses of Giants slain by Herakles,  and in Elis, a statue of him watched over the Sacred Way. In Argolis, not only was the olive tree his club had come from revered, but the southern region, full of sinkholes, was regarded as his.
Of special note is the island of Thasos, wherein Herakles was considered the most important of the Greek pantheon, and called Soter, the savior. He was celebrated as the protector of the city, and his image was minted on Thasian coins.
In 2012, Clay Kaczmarek included the story of Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides in a set of Glyph puzzles he'd hidden within the Animus for his follower, Desmond Miles to find. The puzzle in question, "In the Beginning," was the first of the set. It was suggested that the apple that Hercules retrieved from the garden was in fact an Apple of Eden. Accompanying this was the 1638 painting by Peter Paul Rubens. Desmond deciphered this message in September of that year.
Personality and characteristics
Herakles was considered the strongest man to have ever lived, he was also incredibly intelligent being able to outwit many of his opponents. Having a considerable amount of willpower, Herakles was able to move enough to build his own funeral pyre even with dead Hydra poison in his veins.
In the simulation of the Underworld, Herakles was eagerly waiting to fight a worthy opponent.
Equipment and skills
In the simulation of the Underworld, Herakles was armed with his trusty club torn from an Argolian olive tree and was capable of delivering many powerful blows with it. He also wore a variant of the Arena Fighter's Helmet and wore the pelt of the Nemean Lion across his shoulders. A bow and mace are also allegedly attributed to the legendary Greek hero.
Behind the scenes
Herakles is a mythological figure and character introduced in Assassin's Creed II via the Glyph puzzles. He is mentioned in some of the following titles, until Assassin's Creed: Odyssey where in the DLC The Fate of Atlantis: Torment of Hades he made his debut actual appearance.
Herakles (Ἡρακλῆς) is an Ancient Greek name meaning "Glory of Hera" combining Ἥρᾱ (Hērā) "Hera" and κλεος (kleos) "glory". Herakles took the name in an attempt to appease the goddess. His birth name is recorded as Alcaeus (Ἀλκαῖος) or alternatively Alcides (Ἀλκείδης), derived from Ἀλκα (alka) "strength" and appended by a patronymic.
- Assassin's Creed II (appears in Glyphs only) (mentioned in Database entry only)
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (mentioned in Database entry only)
- Assassin's Creed: Pirates (mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed: Origins (mentioned only)
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (artwork only)
- The Fate of Atlantis: Torment of Hades (simulation only)
- Heracles on Wikipedia
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – A Treasury of Legends
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Argolis: Olive Tree of Herakles
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Argolis: Club of Herakles
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Argolis: The Nemean Lion
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Hydrea: The Golden Apples of the Hesperides
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Makedonia: The Mares of Diomedes
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Argolis: The Hydra
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Argolis: Nemean Lion
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Samos: Samos Banner
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Thasos: Thasos Banner
- Assassin's Creed: Pirates
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Argolis: Learna Swamp
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Euboea: The Keryneian Hind
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Elis: Forest of Pholos
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – The Erymanthian Boar
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Elis: The Erymanthian Boar
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Elis: The Augean Stables
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Arkadia: Stymphalos
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Arkadia: The Stymphalian Birds
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – The Kretan Bull
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Messara: The Kretan Bull
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Korinthia: The Belt of Hippolyta
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Arkadia: The Cattle of Geryon
- Assassin's Creed II – Glyph 1: "In the Beginning"
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Lakonia: Tainaros
- Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece – Elis: Cerberos
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – The Fate of Atlantis: Torment of Hades – The Fallen: Herakles the Legendary
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – The Fate of Atlantis: Torment of Hades – The Underworld's Fallen Guardians
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Messara: Heraklion
- Assassin's Creed: Origins
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Mykonos: Mykonos City
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Trouble in Paradise
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Elis: Statue of Herakles
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Thasos: Temple of Herakles
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – The Da Vinci Disappearance – Database: Ercole Massimo
- Assassin's Creed: Initiates – The Desmond Files