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Tales beyond belief

The Myth of Hercules
Before the birth of Hercules
Jupiter had explained in the council of the gods that the first descendant of Perseus should be the ruler of all the others of his race. This honor was intended for the son of Perseus and Alcmene; but Juno was jealous and brought it about that Eurystheus, who was also a descendant of Perseus, should be born before Theseus.

So Eurystheus became king in Mycene, and the later-born Hercules remained inferior to him.

Eurystheus watched with anxiety the rising fame of his young relative, and called his subject to him, demanding that he carry through certain great tasks or labors. When Hercules did not immediately obey, Jupiter himself sent word to him that he should fulfill his service to the King of Greece.

Nevertheless the hero son of a god could not make up his mind easily to render service to a mere mortal. So he traveled to Delphi and questioned the oracle as to what he should do. This was the answer:

"The overlordship of Eurystheus will be qualified on condition that Hercules perform ten labors that Eurystheus shall assign him. When this is done, Hercules shall be numbered among the immortal gods."

Hercules fell into deep trouble. To serve a man of less importance than himself hurt his dignity and self-esteem; but Jupiter would not listen to his complaints.

The First Labor of Hercules, the Nemean lion
The Second Labor of Hercules, the Hydra
The Third Labor of Hercules, the Ceryneian Hind
The Fourth Labor of Hercules, the Erymanthian Boar
The Fifth Labor of Hercules, the Augean stables
The Sixth Labor of Hercules, the Stymphalian Birds
The Seventh Labor of Hercules, the Cretan Bull
The Eighth Labor of Hercules, the Mares of Diomedes
The Ninth Labor of Hercules, the Belt of Hippolyta
The Tenth Labor of Hercules, the Cattle of Geryon
The Eleventh Labor of Hercules, the Apples of the Hesperides
The Twelfth Labor of Hercules, Cerberus
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