|“||You understand nothing. My first family: dead. My life wasted on ridiculous quests. My second wife dead, after being tricked into poisoning me and leaving me to a painful demise. And my compensation? I got to become a minor god. Immortal, so I can never forget my pain. Stuck here as a gatekeeper, a doorman, a…a butler for the Olympians. No, you don’t understand.||”|
Hercules (meaning "Glory of Hera") is regarded as one of the greatest of Ancient Greek heroes of all time. He was born as the Greek demigod son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. Hercules married Hebe, the goddess of youth after attaining godhood. His Greek counterpart is Heracles.
Hercules' life was always beset with danger. Zeus boasted the next of the line of Perseus would be king of all of Mycenae so Hera delayed Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, from Hercules being born until after Eurystheus was. Shortly after she sent snakes to kill him, but he strangled them with his bare hands.
In one story, Hera was tricked into suckling a young Hercules which is where most of his great strength came from, and he bit so hard that when she pulled him away, the milk created the Milky Way. This was probably the reason as there are no other known myths that involve superhuman strength in any other of the children of the Big Three. Percy holding up the sky does not count because he did that due to his pure heart (as explained by Poseidon).
Eventually, Hercules was sent to train with Chiron. At one point Hercules was offered a choice between a life of hardship and glory or a life of ease and comfort. He chose the first. Hercules often had problems controlling his temper and great strength. He would be punished by being made a slave for a number of years or exiled from the city, but he always willingly submitted to punishment. If wronged he would often take revenge even if years had passed. One such instance was when he killed a sea monster for King Laomedon of Troy in exchange for magical horses. When Laomedon refused to pay him, Hercules returned years later to take revenge by sacking the city and nearly wiping out Laomedon's entire family.
Hercules's feud with Hera continued all throughout his life, but reached an apex when she drove him to madness and made him kill his own family. His famous Twelve Labors came about as punishment to purify him of this deed.
Aside from the Twelve Labors, Hercules had many other adventures and during that time loved many women fathering many children. At some point he aided the gods during the first Gigantomachy since a demigod was needed to kill the giants.
Late in life, Hercules took Deianira as his wife. The centaur Nessus offers to carry Deianira across a fast flowing river while Hercules swims it. However, Nessus is true to the archetype of the mischievous centaur, and tries to steal Deianira away while Hercules is still in the water. Angry, Hercules shoots him with his arrows dipped in the poisonous blood of the Lernaean Hydra. Thinking of revenge, Nessus tells Deianira to take a couple of drops of his blood if she thinks that Hercules' love will ever fade for her. Deianira takes the blood thinking of the many ladies that would like to steal her husband.One day while Hercules is away at war, he won a great victory and sent a messenger for his best tunic to celebrate. Deianara thinking that Hercules wants his best tunic to look good for a lady takes Nessus' blood and paints it on the tunic. Lichas, the herald, soon delivers the tunic to Hercules. However, because it is covered in the Hydra's blood from Hercules' arrow it poisons him tearing his skin and exposing his bones. Before he dies, Hercules throws Lichas into the sea, thinking he was the one who poisoned him (according to several versions, Lichas turns to stone, becoming a rock standing in the sea, named for him). Hercules then uproots several trees and builds a funeral pyre which Poeas (the father of Philoctetes) lights. Through Zeus' apotheosis, Hercules rises to Olympus as he dies. No one but Hercules' friend Philoctetes (Poeas in some versions) would light his funeral pyre (in an alternate version, it is Iolaus who lights the pyre). For this action, Philoctetes (or Poeas) received Hercules' bow and arrows, which were later needed by the Greeks to defeat Troy in the Trojan War. The Trojan War, however, would continue until the Trojan Horse was used to defeat Troy. Philoctetes confronted Paris and shot a poisoned arrow at him. The Hydra poison would subsequently lead to the death of Paris.
As for Hercules, when he is brought to Mount Olympus, Hera ended up dropping her vendetta against him while Hercules ended up marrying Hebe, the goddess of eternal youth, also Hera and Zeus' daughter.
Some stories relate that Hercules' mortal half was sent to the Underworld and later encountered by Odysseus.
One of the things he is most known for are the twelve labors he had to complete for King Eurystheus. These were a series of "labors" that were given to him to purify him after he was cursed with madness by Hera, causing him to murder his wife and children. His labors include:
- Slaying the Nemean lion.
- Slaying the Hydra.
- Capturing the Ceryneian Hind, the golden stag of Artemis.
- Capturing the Erymanthian Boar.
- Cleaning the Augean stables in a day.
- Slaying the Stymphalian Birds.
- Capturing the Cretan Bull.
- Stealing the Man-Eating Mares of Diomedes.
- Obtaining the Girdle of Hippolyta.
- Obtaining the cattle that is owned by Geryon.
- Stealing the apples of the garden of Hesperides.
- Capturing and bring back Cerberus.
The original labors were only ten but King Eurystheus claimed slaying the Hydra, because he had help burning the ends of the necks, and cleaning the Augean stables, because he was paid, didn't count.
Hercules had many miscellaneous adventures including:
- Killing Antaeus and Cacus.
- Going on the quest for the Golden Fleece.
- Besieging Troy along with Telamon (father of Ajax) and Peleus (Argonaut and father of Achilles). After razing Troy, Hercules slew most of the royal family and only Priam survived. This war was the predecessor of the famous Trojan War.
- Killing Periclymenus over his expedition against the city of Pylos.
- Inventing the combat art of Pankration with Theseus and later rescuing him from the underworld.
- Slew Kyknos, a son of Ares who decided to build a temple to his father out of the skulls of travelers he killed.
- Killed the Trojan Sea Monster.
Battles with Gods
Hercules is famous for battling and defeating more gods than any other Greek hero.
- Ares battled Hercules several times. Once at Pylos where Ares was completely defeated. In another he tried to save the life of his son Kyknos who tried to murder Hercules, but the intervention of Athena delayed Ares long enough for Hercules to wound him sending him back to Olympus.
- Hercules is recorded to have wounded both Hera and Hades with his arrows at the battle of Pylos forcing both to retreat.
- He battled Apollo over the Oracle of Delphi and again at Pylos. The first time Zeus broke it up with a thunderbolt and later Apollo drove Hercules back with the aid of Poseidon.
- Hercules wrestled the river-god Achelous for the hand of Deianara. He won even though Achelous shapeshifted into a bull and a snake.
- Hercules wrestled and defeated Thanatos on behalf of his friend Admetus, rescuing his wife.
- He fought the giant Porphyrion alongside Zeus and slew him with his arrows.
When Percy must clean the stables of Geryon's carnivorous horses. He tries to clean them with water from a river, but a naiad won't let him, saying she was tricked by another hero long ago into letting him use water from her river to clean the stables. This may be a reference to Hercules, as he cleaned the Augean stables with water from a river.
When Percy was getting prepared to battle, he was sent on some familiar labors in which he had to complete, just like Hercules did.
When Luke Castellan gave Annabeth Chase her knife, he commented that demigods needed to defend themselves. He justifies giving a seven year old Annabeth a knife by saying that Hercules was only a baby when he strangled two snakes in his crib.
While Percy and Annabeth are fighting the giant Cacus for Hermes' Caduceus, Cacus mentions that only Hercules was ever able to defeat him. When Percy looks at Annabeth and asks why it is always Hercules, Annabeth comments that he had a good publicist.the Mediterranean Sea. He reveals that after his death, Zeus made him a minor god and doorkeeper of the ancient lands. Due to this and other reasons, he has a great amount of bitterness and resentment toward the Olympians and his life as a whole. He gives a quest to Jason Grace and Piper McLean to take the horn of Achelous, for the seven demigods on board the Argo II to get permission to pass into the sea. A normal quest he'd give demigods would be something like "Singing a Silly Song" but the quest he gives Piper and Jason is "extra-hard" because he never wants to do anything Hera wants. (Hera was the one who gave the demigods the quest so he doesn't want to help). After Piper and Jason return with the horn, Piper decides to not give the horn to him, and drowns the god in food from the Cornucopia.The seven demigods then escape on the Argo II because Jason calls up the wind and they shoot for the sky. Percy shoots a ten foot wave of ocean over Hercules' head so he can't get up again.
He was mentioned by the kerkopes brothers Passalos and Akmon. They gave him the nickname "Black-Bottom", because his bottom had turned black from sunburn and dirt.
As a mortal, Hercules was renowned for his extraordinary courage and his willingness to go to great lengths to help those he cared for. Hercules was a passionate, emotionally untempered man with an impulsive nature. Percy's vision in The Titan's Curse showed him to be both confident and proud.
As a god, Hercules has grown bitter and resentful toward the Olympians especially Zeus and Hera. He resents having to constantly live up to expectations as the son of Zeus only for it to never be enough. After he was made immortal he was regulated to the position of a minor god eternally subservient to Hera and forced to live with the memories of his mortal life brought by her persecution. Being stuck on an island forever only increased his feelings. He strongly dislikes his reputation in the mortal world as an animal-skin wearing barbarian and his legend being tarnished in certain films. In The Mark of Athena, he is shown to hate Hera to such an extent that he is willing to make the seven's quest "extra-hard". He also seemed to be quite cruel as he only wished to take Achelous' horn merely to taunt him and make him miserable. He also threatened to kill all of the questers if Jason and Piper failed his quest to retrieve Achelous' horn.
As a demigod, he had these natural abilities:
- As a child of the Big Three, his abilities were much more potent than other demigods.
- His signature abilities are his immense physical strength as well as his fortitude.
- As a child of Zeus, he presumably had the ability to control air and lightning.
- Immortality (after burning in a pyre).
Herculues is married to Hebe, but is known to to have other relationships outside of his marriage (a trait he inherited from his father).
|Astydameia, daughter of Ormenius||
|Astyoche, daughter of Phylas|
|Autonoe, daughter of Piraeus / Iphinoe, daughter of Antaeus||
|Baletia, daughter of Baletus||
|Lavinia, daughter of Evander||
|Malis, a slave of Omphale||
|Palantho of Hyperborea||
|Parthenope, daughter of Stymphalus||
|Rhea, Italian priestess|
|Thebe, daughter of Adramys||
|Tinge, wife of Antaeus|
|Fifty daughters of Thespius|
|Unnamed Celtic woman||
|Unnamed slave of Omphale||
Hercules' original Greek name was Heracles. He was renamed Hercules by the Romans. Unlike many of the Olympians, Hercules claims he did not develop an alternate aspect. He remains the same regardless of the pantheon and at times only suffers slight headaches.
- While as a demigod he could throw massive boulders and monsters, like the Hydra, around with little effort, it remains unknown how powerful his strength is as a full fledged god. It is presumably at a high level though as he said he could kill Piper with "a flick of his finger" and "break the Argo II in half with his bare hands", he was also able to throw coconuts fast enough for them to get stuck in the bronze hull of the Argo II.
- It was often said in the myths that he was, and possibly still is, Zeus' favorite child.
- Hercules was taught archery by King Eurytus of Oechalia (who was a student and grandson of Apollo) and wrestling by Autolycus (son of Hermes and grandfather of Odysseus).
- Zeus fathered Hercules to serve as Olympus' mortal champion in the first Gigantomachy. It was prophesied that without a mortal to fight beside and kill the giants, the Olympians would have lost the war.
- Hercules is the half-brother and great-grandson of Perseus.
- Hercules is a legacy of Zeus through Perseus.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Hercules is called by his Roman name instead of his Greek name by everyone throughout the books. The only exception to this is in The Sea of Monsters, Hermes asks Percy which constellation he liked best, and Percy's reply was "Heracles" (though it was changed to Hercules in the paperback version). In The Lost Hero, Jason Grace, a Roman demigod, calls him by his Greek name: "Heracles".
- His Greek name, Heracles, means "Hera's Pride" in honor of Hera, who didn't show any affection towards him until his eventual death and rise to godhood.
- Since he is the great-grandson of Perseus, another son of Zeus, he can be said to be a son and legacy of Zeus.
- Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, strangled a snake when he was a baby, just as Hercules strangled two.
- According to Annabeth Chase, Hercules appears so much in mythology because he had a really good publicist.
- He is mentioned to be "like the Starbucks of Ancient Greece" by Percy because "everywhere you turn, there he is."
- Hercules was described by Jason to be the most powerful demigod of all time.
- When Ares and Mars are arguing, Mars refers to Heracles, but being Roman, he should have referred to Hercules, Heracles' Roman aspect.