|“||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 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 original Greek counterpart is Heracles (meaning "Glory of Hera").
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 many 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 the Amazon Queen Hippolyta.
- Obtaining the cattle owned by Geryon.
- Capturing and bringing back Cerberus from the Underworld.
- Stealing the apples of the garden of Hesperides.
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 sometimes even 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 wrestled with and overpowered Nereus, despite the latter attempting to break free via shapeshifting.
- 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 gained the upper hand and drove Hercules back.
- 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. It is notable that Hercules was able to bear Atlas' celestial burden, which, according to Poseidon, can only be done by one with not only great strength and courage, but also a true heart. In Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, he was, notably, the only male Argonaut not to be swayed by the women of Lemnos.
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, Hercules is shown to still hate Hera, to such an extent that he is willing to make the Seven Heroes of Olympus's quest "extra-hard" only because she was responsible for bringing them together, despite the fact that Hercules hates the Giants as well. 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 were to fail in their quest to retrieve Achelous' horn.
In Percy's dream in The Titan's Curse, Hercules is described as wearing an old-fashioned Greek tunic, and laced leather sandals, with the Nemean Lion's Pelt wrapped around his back like a cape, with the paws tied around his neck and the head covering his head, akin to a hood. His voice is described as deep and confident.
In The Mark of Athena, Hercules is described as a tall and very muscular black-haired man that appears to be only in his mid-twenties. He is barefoot (with his feet covered in white sand) and wears long flowing purple robes (which are white in his Greek form, Heracles), which, according to Piper, made him look somewhat like a Catholic bishop. Hercules's ebony-black hair is close-cropped, in a Roman style, while his beard is "fashionably scruffy", much like that of Tristan McLean, which Piper described as a "I just happened not to shave for two days and I still look awesome look." Hercules has Zeus's brilliant electric-blue eyes, coppery skin, "as if he’d spent his entire life on a tanning bed", and is overall very handsome in a rugged, but not-at-all-caveman way (contrary to most stereotypical modern re-imaginings of Hercules). His voice is once again described as deep, but also somewhat casual and very modern. When enraged, however, Hercules' neck veins turn "as purple as his robes", and his expression quickly becomes like the cliffs of Gibraltar— "a solid, unforgiving sheet of stone."
Hercules wields a mighty club, which Piper describes as an oversized baseball bat: a five-foot-long polished cylinder of mahogany with a leather handgrip studded in bronze. Due to his island warm climate, Hercules rarely wears his Nemean Lion's Pelt there.
Since Hercules had once held the celestial burden of Atlas, he would have acquired a grey streak in his black hair, though, as in the case of Percy and Annabeth, it would have eventually faded overtime.
Hercules, as a child of Zeus, one of the Big Three, was an extremely powerful demigod (and later, full-fledged god), with his abilities being much more potent than those of any other demigods of his era, with his half-brother Jason even going as far as calling Hercules the most powerful demigod of all time. Hercules' natural abilities included:
- ADHD: Like most demigods, Hercules possesses inborn supernatural battle reflexes and senses that he uses to analyze the fighting style of his opponent.
- Massive Strength: Hercules's signature and most famous ability was his legendary incredible superhuman strength (as well as his mental fortitude), which came from his parentage, as well as him having once drunk Hera's breast milk as an infant. As a result, Hercules overpowered 50 of Diomedes' men simultaneously, defeated quite a few formidably skilled Amazons, overpowered numerous fearsome monsters (most notably Cerberus himself), defeated the gods Thanatos, Nereus and Achelous, stalemated Apollo himself in a duel, helped the Olympians slay the mighty Giants (notably carrying the massive Alcyoneus outside of the latter's home territory), and even managed to take up Atlas' celestial burden for a short while (which also requires a true heart and great courage) in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes. In The Mark of Athena, Hercules was able to hurl coconuts at the distant Argo II with enough force to have them embedded in the ship's Celestial Bronze hull.
- Fighting Skills: As seen in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes Hercules was an extremely skilled warrior, most frequently utilizing a heavy club in battle. He was also formidable in hand-to-hand combat, even inventing the combat art of pankration with Theseus.
- Archery: As seen in Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes Hercules was an extremely skilled archer, rarely missing a target with his poisonous Hydra arrows (which left incurable lethal wounds). He also notably easily defeated Eurytius in an archery contest, swiftly shot down Geryon's three bodies simultaneously, managed to hit fast centaur Nessus, and even the the extremely fast Ceryneian Hind.
- Aerokinesis: As a son of Zeus, Hercules presumably has the ability to control and manipulate air.
- Electrokinesis: As a son of Zeus, Hercules presumably has the ability to control lightning and static electricity.
- Immortality: After burning in a pyre the gods made Hercules immortal.
- Mental Fortitude: Hercules is shown to be immune to Piper's Charmspeak in The Mark of Athena.
Hercules 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 original Greek name, Herakles, means "Glory of Hera" in honor of Hera, who (ironically) 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.
- Of all the Seven Demigods, Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, shares the most number of similiarities with Hercules:
- Both are the sons of the Big Three.
- Both killed a snake(s), when they were toddlers.
- Both were trained by Chiron.
- Both fought the Nemean Lion and wore its pelt for protection.
- Both killed the Hydra.
- Both encountered the Erymanthean Boar.
- Both cleaned the Augean stables in one day.
- Both fought and killed many Stymphalian Birds.
- Both encountered the man eating horses of Diomedes. Hercules captured them while Percy forced them to submission.
- Both fought Amazons and Centaurs.
- Both fought and killed Geryon, Cacus and Antaeus.
- Both entered the Garden of the Hesperides and encountered Ladon.
- Both held the weight of the Sky.
- Both journeyed throuh the Underworld. Hercules went only once while Percy went thrice, even going as far as Tartarus.
- Both defeated Ares and encountered Thanatos.
- Both were Argonauts and fought in the Giant War.
- 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.
- Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, associated Hercules with the Norse god Thor.