Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Heracles came to serve Erystheus

Ancient Tiryns (lager copy)

The story of how Heracles came to endure the labors is long and complex, but these are the main events;

Heracles was on his way home to Thebes after slaying the lion of Cythaeron when he ran into the envoys of King Erginus who was on their way to fetch 100 oxen in tribute from Thebes. Heracles made it very clear to them that they were not welcome (by cutting of their noses and ears) which soon led to King Erginus marching upon Thebes.

Heracles defeated the foreign army and thus gained the friendship of the Theban king who gave him his daughter, Megara, in marriage (with whom he had several children). Hera however soon returned to planning Heracles destruction and slipped madness into his mind – the hero ended up killing his wife and children. He then had (as customs dictated) to be purified and therefore went to Delphi. The Pythia (oracle) there commanded Heracles to go to Tiryns and serve Erysteus for twelve years, after which he would become an immortal. This is also the first time the hero is called Heracles, his name until this point was Alcides (or Alcaeus).

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