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Home  |  Demigods   |  Mediterranean Demigods   |  Roman Demigods   |  Hercules : The Roman Hero

Hercules : The Roman Hero

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At a glance

Description
Origin Roman Mythology
Classification Demigods
Family Members Jupiter (Father), Alcmene (Mother)
Region Italy
Associated With Strength

Hercules (Roman)

Introduction

The demi-god Hercules was regarded as a great hero for the people of Rome and Greece. He was known for performing various deeds that no mortal could. Hercules was an everyman who had bad days and even died due to another’s trickery. These stories were entertaining, but they also told an important lesson to an audience: If bad things can happen to a hero, they have nothing to be ashamed of.

The most famous of his activities was the 12 labours that Hercules was asked to perform by his cousin Eurystheus, who was the king of Mycenae and Tiryns. The first set of labours numbered only ten, but they eventually grew to twelve.

  1. To kill the Nemean Lion who was impervious to all weapons.
  2. To kill the monster known as the Hydra who had nine venomous heads and, when one was cut off, two more would grow in its place.
  3. To capture the Cerynitian Hind who was sacred to the goddess Artemis.
  4. To capture the Erymanthian Boar.
  5. Cleaning the Stables of Augeius in a day.
  6. To drive away the Stymphalian Birds.
  7. To bring back the Cretan Bull from Knossos.
  8. To bring back the Mares of Diomedes.
  9. To bring back Hippolyte’s Girdle.
  10. To bring back the cattle of Geryon, king of Cadiz.
  11. To bring back the Golden Apples of Hesperides.
  12. To bring back Cerberus, the guard dog of the underworld.

Physical Traits

In art, Hercules was depicted with various attributes such as his lion skin from killing the Naemean lion and the gnarled club. In Renaissance and post-Renaissance works, he was also shown with a virile aspect and dressed in all white.

Family

Hercules was the son of Jupiter and Alcmene. Although Hercules was regarded as a great defender and champion of the weak, his personal problems started when he was born. In Roman mythology, two witches were sent to prevent the birth of Hercules, but they were tricked by one of his servants.

In one version of the story, the serpents were sent to kill the child in his cradle, but Hercules was able to choke them both. According to another version, the mother, who was identified as Minerva, took her baby to the woods to protect him from the wrath of the king. However, the child was later found by the goddess who saved him.

When Hercules suckled at her breast, she pushed him away and spilled her milk all over the night sky, which created the Milky Way. After giving the baby back to Minerva, she told her to take care of the child. The goddess then imbued the child with more power and strength after she fed him from her own breast.

King Creon of Thebes gave Hercules his daughter, Megara, in marriage as a sign of his gratitude.

Other Names

He was born with the name Alcaeus and later took the name Hercules, meaning “Glory of Hera”, signifying that he would become famous through his difficulties with the goddess. In Greek mythology he was knows an Herkales.

Powers and Abilities

There were many myths about Hercules, and one of these is his victory over Cacus, who was terrorizing Rome. He was associated with the city through his son, Amedeinus. Mark Antony regarded him as a personal god, and Commodus referred to him as a patron god.

Due to the religious beliefs of the Romans, Hercules was regarded as a deity who was involved in childbirth and children. In Roman culture, women were required to wear a special belt that was tied with a “knot” of Hercules. This was made to be hard to untie.

Plautus wrote a play about Hercules that is considered to be a sex comedy. Seneca wrote a tragedy about Hercules Furens, which was about his battle with madness. During the Roman Empire, Hercules was worshipped in Hispania and Gaul.

Modern Day Influence

The myths about Hercules show the world that everyone has a hard time overcoming difficult tasks and situations. Similar to what happened in ancient Greece, people would gather around a table and listen to the stories of the hero. Even in modern mediums, such as comics, television shows, and graphic novels, Hercules continues to be popular.

Hercules is a hero that people can relate to due to how far from perfect he was in life. He was also less than ideal, but he managed to endure his hardships. Having endured his own struggles, one can feel that if Hercules could endure his own hardships, then other people would also be able to survive.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.