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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 Alcmene and was the half-brother of Perseus, as well as his great-grandson.

He is renowned in Greek mythology for the completion of his Twelve labours.

Biography

Mythology

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 mischievous Cercopes, and the club was said to have sprouted roots and leaves when it hit the ground.[1]

Among his many adventures, the most famous were the Twelve Labours. These included the slaying of the Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra, the Stymphalian birds, and the capture of the Hind of Keryneia, the Erymanthian Boar, the Kretan Bull and Cerberus.[1] The fifth labor required him to cleanse the Stable of Augeias in Elis[1], while the eleventh labor required him to steal the apples from the garden of the Hesperides.[2] In some of these, most notably with the Hydra, Herakles was aided by his nephew Iolaos.[1]

Herakles was also known to be enemies with the queen of the gods, Hera. Hera resented Herakles due to him being another illegitimate child of Zeus, the result of him seeing another woman behind Hera's back. As such, she set out to make Herakles' life as miserable as possible. She once sent two snakes to kill him when he was a baby, but he squeezed them to death. When he was older and had a wife and children, she drove him mad and made him attack his family. He was forced to do the famous Twelve Labours as a form of repentance.

On one occasion, Herakles became poisoned by one of his own arrows which eroded his own flesh. As such, he tore the tallest trees from their roots that he could find and built his funeral pyre before dying from the poison.[3]

Simulation

"Respect, young one! You fight like an Argonault!"
―Herakles while fighting Kassandra, 429 – 422 BCE.[src]-[m]
ACOD FoA ToH Herakles Kassandra

Herakles recruited by Kassandra

In a simulation created by the Isu Aletheia, Herakles's soul resided in a vault connected to a fort in Tartaros. During the Peloponnesian War, he met the Spartan misthios Kassandra, who was sent by Hades to recruit him as a guardian of Tartaros. After being defeated by Kassandra, Herakles agreed and travelled to the Gate of the Strong to defend it.[4]

Influence and legacy

In classical antiquity the Kretan town of Heraklion[1] and the Egyptian city of Herakleion were named after him.[5]

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.[1]

In 48 BCE, a gladius named Hercules' Gladius was reputedly the very sword he used to kill the Hydra although Roman swords did not exist in his lifetime.[5]

Trivia

  • Ercole Massimo's family was said to have originated from the union of Hercules and an unnamed nymph. [6]
  • The name Herakles (Ἡρακλῆς ) means 'Glory of Hera' which he took in an attempt to appease the goddess; his birth name is recorded as Alcaeus (Ἀλκαῖος) or alternatively Alcides, formed by the Greek word for 'strength' (Ἀλκα) appended by a patronymic.
  • In some stories, Herakles is counted among the Argonauts.
  • One of Layla Hassan's Animus modifications enabled an avatar based on the mythical hero to become a lieutenant aboard Kassandra's ship, the Adrestia.
  • In the Tartaros part of the simulation of Hades, Herakles is shown wearing a variant of the Arena Fighter's Set but with unique torso and waist armour.

Gallery

Appearances

References

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