The son of the Greek god Zeus, Hercules was the greatest hero and later on god in the Greek and Roman myths. He is most notable for his peak physical condition and weaknesses such as excessive gluttony and lust. Despite the hard life, his suffering was a promise that he would live forever among the gods at Mount Olympus. Here are 15 fascinating things about this Greek demigod you might not know about:
1. Hercules’ Name Means “Glory Of Hera”
Even though Hera was his implacable enemy, Hercules was named after his nemesis. On the other hand, the goddess Athena regarded him with kindness, as did his father, Zeus. Some of the most frequent misspellings of the Hercules’ name are Herkules, Hurcales, Heracules, Hercales…
2. Hercules Had Two Stepfathers
The family tree of the Greek mythology seems to be very complicated and intertwined. The family tree of Hercules is no exception. He had two stepfathers. The first was Amphitryon, a Theban general, who was originally from Tiryns in the eastern part of the Peloponnese. The second was Radamanthes, a wise king, who was the son of Zeus and Europa, and later one of the judges of the dead.
3. Hercules Is Portrayed As A Handsome Man
The sources tell that Hercules was a muscular young man, usually with the beard. Because of the immense offerings he received from women, he often acted lustfully and cocky, often being unable to control his arrogant and self-important behaviour.
4. Hercules’ First Wife Was Megara
Megara was the oldest daughter of Creon, king of Thebes. In reward for Hercules’ defending Thebes from invaders, Creon offered his daughter Megara to Heracles, after which they married. Hercules had three sons with Megara, and their names were Creontidas, Thersimachus and Deicoon. Despite his affection for Megara and their children, he killed them all when he was cursed by Hera.
5. It Took 12 Years For Hercules To Complete The “Twelve Labours”
The ‘Twelve Labours’ included 1) slaying the Nemean Lion; 2) slaying the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra; 3) capturing the Golden Hind of Artemis; 4) capturing the Erymanthian Boar; 5) cleaning the Augean stables in one day; 6) slaying the Stymphalian Birds; 7) capturing the Cretan Bull; 8) stealing the Mares of Diomedes; 9) obtaining the girdle of Hippolyta; 10) obtaining the cattle of the monster Geryon; 11) stealing the apples of the Hesperides; 12) capturing and bringing back Cerberus.
6. Hercules Had Many Children
It is believed that many mythological figures from the Greek pantheon have to do with Hercules because of his innumerable sexual intercourses. According to some beliefs, he had one child by each of Thespius’ fifty daughters.
7. Hercules Strangled Two Serpents
Hercules is most known for his bravery and strength. Yet, this subheading would not be engaging if we did not mention that he strangled two serpents sent to kill him when he was only eight months old. All the more, he was found laughing and holding their heads, one in each hand.
8. Hercules Had A Gay Relationship
Besides his masculinity and manly deeds, Hercules is also known for his gay life. Namely, Iolaus was a nephew of Heracles and his friend, as well. The men shared so much, time, passions, strength and life; therefore, it is believed they shared intimate sexual moments, as well.
9. Hercules Killed His Music Teacher
Like most Greek youngsters, Hercules also took music lessons. His music master was teaching Hercules to play the lyre, but when Hercules became frustrated, he killed his master in a fit of rage. The blow killed Linus instantly. Hercules felt really sorry because he was unaware of his extraordinary strength. He did not mean to kill him. He just did not know his own strength.
10. Hercules Was Enslaved By Omphale
For his murder of Iphitus, Hercules was, by the command of the Delphic Oracle Xenoclea, enslaved by Omphale for the period of a year. The penalty included wearing women’s clothes as well as spinning wool and wearing delicate tunics, due to which he was mistaken for a girl and mocked by gods, especially Pan.
11. Hercules’ Second Wife Was Deianira
When Hercules got married a second time, his beautiful wife Deianira gave him a welcome-home present after his return from his last adventure. She wove a cloak that was enchanted to make Hercules love Deianira forever. However, it turned out that the cloak contained a caustic poison, causing unendurable pain to Hercules.
12. Hercules Slew Nessus
Nessus was a centaur who forced himself upon Deianeira, Hercules’ wife. Hercules killed Nessus with an arrow. Nessus convinced the woman that drinking his blood would make anyone hero. Hercules drank the blood, which poisoned him with a living fire. Hercules begged his father Zeus to let him die, even though he was immortal. Afterwards, Hercules ascended to Olympus.
13. Hercules’ Third Wife Was Hebe
Just after he had obtained immortality, Hercules married Hebe with whom he had two sons, Alexiaris and Anicetus. Through Hebe, Hercules gained eternal youth. Hera, Hebe’s mother, was not very fond of Hercules. Actually, she was fighting against Hercules continually.
14. Hercules Can Be Found On Coins
Hercules is one of the first Greek figures to be found on ancient Roman coinage, and has been the main motif of many medals and collector coins since. One of the examples is a 20 euro Baroque silver coined issued in 2002.
15. There Are Temple Sites Of Hercules
It goes without saying there were temple sites built in honor to Hercules that were plundered, thus ruined to the ground. Fortunately, there are a few still standing still, among which is a small temple at the oracle site of Dodona in northwestern Greece.