Garner's Greek Mythology

EP 29: Heracles - Greece's Superhero

August 12, 2021 Patrick Garner Season 2 Episode 29
Garner's Greek Mythology
EP 29: Heracles - Greece's Superhero
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to Episode 29

Listen as we learn about the real Heracles, Greece’s indisputable superhero.

A semi-divine being and the son of Zeus, Heracles experienced tragedies and triumphs. He never refused a challenge. In this episode we look at his 12 labors, his loves and his transformation from mortal to immortal god  …

Narrated by mythologist and best-selling author, Patrick Garner, Garner's Greek Mythology is unlike any other Greek history series.  Here these divine beings are viewed as if they were anything but mythical...

 

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EPISODE 29-- Heracles, Greece’s Superhero

A DEMIGOD OF SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH & VIOLENT PASSIONS, HERACLES ROSE FROM TRAGEDY TO BECOME GREECE'S GREATEST HERO. 

FOR MORE THAN 1500 YEARS, HE EPITOMIZED MASCULINITY, BRAVERY & A SEEMING INABILITY TO SAY 'NO' TO ANY CHALLENGE. 

HIS LIFE WAS FILLED WITH TRIUMPHS & MISFORTUNE AS HE SHIFTED FROM ONE UNIMAGINABLE CONFRONTATION TO ANOTHER.

HIS LABORS, ALMOST ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL, WERE OF SUCH AN EXTREME MAGNITUDE THAT ZEUS EVENTUALLY GRANTED HIM IMMORTALITY.

EARLY GREECE WAS A LAND OF CHAOS. FROM ITS CONSTANT TURMOIL, HERACLES IMPOSED HIMSELF UPON THE ANCIENT WORLD AS ITS MOST ICONIC HERO ... 

THIS IS EPISODE 29 OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY. WE HAVE LISTENERS FROM 138 COUNTRIES & COUNTING. WELCOME TO EVERYONE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

I'M YOUR HOST, MYTHOLOGIST & BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, PATRICK GARNER. 

THESE STORIES ABOUT THE GODS HAVE BEEN TOLD FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. BUT NOW THERE ARE NEW STORIES THAT ARE AS COMPELLING.

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY, CHECK OUT MY BOOKS ABOUT THE GODS IN THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD. 

YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT THEM & ABOUT THIS PODCAST AT PATRICKGARNERBOOKS.COM. 

AND AS ALWAYS, THIS PODCAST FOCUSES ON ONE THING ... GREEK GODS, OF COURSE. THEY, LIKE YOU, ARE HERE, NOW ...

THE GREEKS CALLED HIM HERACLES. THE ROMANS? HE WAS REBRANDED AS ... HERCULES.

AS A RESULT HE'S CALLED HERCULES TODAY. BUT THIS SERIES IS ABOUT GREEKS, & AS ALWAYS, WE'LL HONOR THE ANCIENT GREEK NAMES ...

HERACLES, LIKE SO MANY OF THE INDIVIDUALS WE HAVE ENCOUNTERED IN THIS SERIES, WAS SIRED BY ZEUS.

HIS MOTHER WAS ALKMENE, A MORTAL WOMAN & THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF THE HERO PERSEUS. ZEUS SEDUCED HER USING ONE OF HIS USUAL TRICKS.

THE THUNDER-GOD DISGUISED HIMSELF AS HER HUSBAND. ON THE SAME NIGHT HER HUSBAND SLEPT WITH HER, ZEUS ALSO SLIPPED INTO HER BED. SHE NEVER GUESSED.

NINE MONTHS LATER ALKMENE GAVE BIRTH TO TWO CHILDREN. ONE WAS HER HUSBAND'S & ONE WAS ZEUS'.

AND UNSURPRISINGLY, ZEUS' WIFE HERA REACTED. INFURIATED AT HER HUSBAND'S INFIDELITY, SHE WASN'T CERTAIN WHICH CHILD WAS WHICH.

SHE SLIPPED TWO POISONOUS SNAKES INTO THE CHILDREN'S CRADLE. ONE OF THE BOYS BROKE INTO TEARS. 

THE OTHER BOY CASUALLY PICKED UP A SNAKE IN EACH HAND & WITHOUT WARNING, STRANGLED EACH ... NOW HERA KNEW WHICH CHILD WAS A DEMI-GOD ...

ZEUS RECRUITED THE BEST OF THE BEST TO MENTOR HERACLES AS HE GREW INTO MANHOOD.

A WELL-KNOWN KING TAUGHT HIM HOW TO DRIVE A CHARIOT. ODYSSEUS' GRANDFATHER TAUGHT HIM HOW TO WRESTLE.

A SON OF HERMES TAUGHT HIM HOW TO BOX. A FAMOUS MUSICIAN TAUGHT HIM MUSIC. A SON OF ONE OF THE MUSES TAUGHT HIM POETRY.

REGARDLESS OF HIS TUTOR'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS, HERACLES BESTED EACH OF THEM IN QUICK SUCCESSION.

BY THE TIME HE WAS EIGHTEEN HE HAD BECOME A SPECIMEN OF UNUSUAL WIT & VIRILITY ... AND NOW HIS ENDLESS ADVENTURES WERE ABOUT TO BEGIN!

A BEAST CALLED THE LION OF MOUNT CITHAERON RAVAGED THE FLOCKS OF MULTIPLE KINGS. ONE OF THE KINGS WAS THESPIUS, WHO PLEADED WITH HERACLES TO HELP.

WITHOUT BREAK FOR 50 DAYS, HERACLES TRACKED THE LION. FINALLY IN A FIERCE CONFRONTATION, HE BETTERED THE ANIMAL.

THEREAFTER, HE ALWAYS WORE THE LION'S SKIN AS HIS COAT & THE LION'S SCALP AS HIS HELMET. 

STUNNED AT THE BOY'S PROWESS & DETERMINATION, KING THESPIUS DETERMINED THAT EACH OF HIS MANY DAUGHTERS SHOULD HAVE A CHILD BY HERACLES.

THINKING THAT, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, THE GIRL COMING TO HIS BED WAS THE SAME, HERACLES SLEPT WITH DIFFERENT DAUGHTERS UNTIL EACH CARRIED HIS CHILD ...

WITHIN A SHORT TIME, HERACLES DEFEATED AN ARMY WHICH HAD BEEN SENT TO COLLECT TRIBUTE FROM KING KREON OF THEBES.

IN DEEP GRATITUDE, KREON GAVE HERACLES HIS DAUGHTER, MEGARA. IT WAS A HAPPY MARRIAGE & THEY HAD A NUMBER OF CHILDREN.

BUT HERA WAS STILL LURKING IN THE SHADOWS. FURIOUS AT HERACLES' HAPPINESS, SHE STRUCK HIM WITH A DREADFUL MADNESS. 

SWEPT WITH DELUSIONS, HE COULDN'T RECOGNIZE ANYONE, LET ALONE REMEMBER HIS OWN FAMILY.

HE MISTOOK MEGARA FOR AN ENEMY & HIS CHILDREN FOR WILD ANIMALS, HE KILLED THEM ALL ... AFTERWARDS, HERA ALLOWED HERACLES TO VIEW WHAT HE'D DONE.

HE WAS HORRIFIED & CONSIDERED SUICIDE. HIS COUSIN, THESEUS, INSTEAD ADVISED HIM TO VISIT THE PYTHIA AT DELPHI FOR ADVICE.

HE WAS TOLD THAT THE ONLY WAY TO PURIFY HIMSELF WAS TO SERVE EURYSTHEUS, THE KING OF TIRYNS ... TO DO WHATEVER HE ASKED.

THESE TASKS BECAME KNOWN TO HISTORY AS THE 12 LABORS OF HERACLES.

EACH OF THESE LABORS WAS CONSIDERED IMPOSSIBLE. HERACLES THOUGH WAS UNDAUNTED & EAGER TO BEGIN.

THE FIRST WAS KILLING THE NEMEAN LION, WHICH WAS CONSIDERED IMPOSSIBLE. ITS FUR WAS IMPENETRABLE BY WEAPONS. AN ANCIENT BEING, IT WAS THE CHILD OF TWO TITANS.

AFTER HERACLES SHOT THE BEAST WITH ARROWS, HE REALIZED HIS BOW WAS USELESS. INSTEAD, HE TRAPPED THE LION IN ITS LAIR & FOLLOWED IT IN.

THERE IN THE DARKNESS — & WITH A DEAFENING ROAR —  THE LION CHARGED AT HERACLES ... STANDING HIS GROUND, THE HERO STRANGLED IT WITH HIS BARE HANDS.

TASK TWO WAS EQUALLY DAUNTING. HE WAS TO KILL THE LERNAEAN HYDRA. IT WAS MULTI-HEADED & LIVED UNDER A LAKE SURROUNDED BY POISONOUS GASES.

HERACLES LURED IT OUT OF THE LAKE, SWIFTLY CHOPPING OFF ONE OF ITS HEADS. TO HIS ASTONISHMENT, IT INSTANTLY GREW TWO HEADS BACK FOR THE ONE IT LOST.

HERACLES RECRUITED HIS COUSIN, IOLAUS, TO HELP. IOLAUS PROPOSED USING A FIREBRAND TO CAUTERIZE EACH CUT SO THAT NOTHING COULD REGROW.

THEY STARTED WINNING THE BATTLE. BUT HERA SHOWED UP. SHE SENT A GIANT LAKE CRAB TO AID THE HYDRA, BUT HERACLES WAS HARDLY INTIMIDATED.

SEEING THE CRAB LUMBERING TOWARD HIM, HERACLES SIMPLY CRUSHED ITS SHELL UNDER HIS FOOT. THEN HE CONTINUED CUTTING OFF HEADS UNTIL THE HYDRA WAS DEAD.

WHAT AWAITED HIM NEXT? CAPTURING THE CERYNEIAN HIND, A HUGE DEER SACRED TO ARTEMIS. IT HAD GOLD ANTLERS & COULD EASILY OUTRUN A FLYING ARROW ...

HERACLES TRAILED IT FOR A YEAR. THERE ARE SEVERAL VERSIONS OF HOW HE CAPTURED IT. BUT HE WAS SUCCESSFUL.

RETURNING TO SHOW KING EURYSTHEUS HIS CONQUEST, HE CROSSED TRACKS WITH ARTEMIS & APOLLO. HE INSTANTLY BEGGED FORGIVENESS, EXPLAINING HIS LABORS.

ARTEMIS ACCEPTED HIS APOLOGY, ON THE GROUNDS THAT HE WOULD RELEASE THE DEER UPON SHOWING THE KING ...

HIS 4th TASK WAS CAPTURING THE ERYMANTHIAN BOAR. 

THIS BEAST TOO WAS FEARSOME. FOR AS LONG AS ANYONE COULD REMEMBER IT WOULD SWEEP ONTO NEARBY FARMS, DESTROYING CROPS & ANIMALS.

UNCERTAIN ABOUT HOW TO TRAP SUCH A MONSTER, HERACLES CONSULTED WITH A WISE CENTAUR — A HALF MAN-HALF HORSE — HE KNEW FROM HIS CHILDHOOD. 

THE CENTAUR ADVISED HIM TO LURE THE BOAR INTO DEEP SNOW WHERE IT COULDN'T MOVE EASILY. HERACLES FOLLOWED HIS ADVICE & CAUGHT THE BOAR IN NETS.

WHEN HE BROUGHT THE BEAST BEFORE KING EURYSTHEUS, THE MAN WAS SO TERRIFIED THAT HE BEGGED HERACLES TO GET RID OF IT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

HERACLES RETURNED TO HIS TASKS. HE WAS NOW REQUIRED TO CLEAN THE AUGEAS STABLES IN A SINGLE DAY.

THE SO-CALLED STABLES WERE ACTUALLY A MASSIVE BARN WHERE KING AUGEUS HAD HOUSED MORE THAN 3,000 CATTLE FOR OVER 30 YEARS. THE DUNG HAD NEVER BEEN REMOVED.

WHEN HERACLES ARRIVED AT THE KING'S ROYAL COURT, HE PROCLAIMED THAT HE WOULD CLEAN OUT THE STABLES IN A SINGLE DAY IF THE KING GAVE HIM A TENTH OF THE CATTLE.

THE KING PROMPTLY AGREED ... HERACLES HAD NO INTENTION OF SHOVELING DUNG. INSTEAD HE KNOCKED A HOLE IN THE SIDE OF THE STABLES.

THEN TO THE KING'S SHOCK, HE DIVERTED TWO NEARBY RIVERS INTO THE BARN. THE RIVERS RUSHED THROUGH & WITHIN HOURS THE STABLES WERE WASHED CLEAN.

UNAPPRECIATIVE OF HERACLES' INGENUITY, THE KING RENEGED ON HIS PROMISE. UNWILLING TO SPEND FURTHER TIME, THE CLEVER HERO MOVED ON. 

HIS SIXTH TASK WAS TO KILL THE STYMPHATIAN BIRDS, WHICH WERE MONSTROUS IN SIZE, WITH BRONZE BEAKS AND METALLIC FEATHERS.

DISMAYINGLY, THEY HAD DEVELOPED A TASTE FOR HUMANS, DEVOURING ALL MEN THEY FOUND AS THEY CIRCLED OVERHEAD.

THE BIRDS HAD BEEN CREATED BY NONE OTHER THAN THE WAR-GOD, ARES. THE LAND WHERE THE BIRDS NESTED WAS A DEEP MARSH THAT PROVED IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH.

WATCHING HERACLES' STRUGGLE, THE GODDESS ATHENE GAVE HIM A MASSIVE BRONZE RATTLE THAT HEPHAISTOS HAD MADE AT HER REQUEST.

SHAKING IT OVERHEAD, HERACLES SCARED THE BIRDS. PANICKED, THEY ABANDONED THEIR ROOSTS. 

WHEN THEY BEGAN FLYING AWAY HE SHOT THEM WITH POISONED ARROWS ...

HE WAS NOW HALFWAY THROUGH HIS LABORS ... NEXT HE WAS TASKED WITH STEALING A CRETAN BULL — THE ONE THAT WAS THE FATHER OF THE INFAMOUS MINOTAUR.

WHEN HERACLES ARRIVED ON CRETE, HE IMMEDIATELY SOUGHT OUT KING MINOS, EXPLAINING HIS INTENTIONS. 

THE KING WAS OVERJOYED AT THE THOUGHT THAT HE MIGHT BE RID OF THE BULL. HERACLES CAPTURED IT WITH HIS BARE HANDS & RETURNED TO SHOW KING EURYSTHEUS.

THE KING WAS SO AFRAID OF THE ANIMAL THAT HE HID IN THE ROYAL COURTS. IN DISGUST, HERACLES MOVED ON TO HIS NEXT LABOR.

STEALING THE MARES OF DIOMEDES WAS FAR MORE CHALLENGING THAN CAPTURING THE CRETAN BULL.

THE FOUR HORSES WERE MADDENED FROM A DIET OF HUMAN FLESH. ONE UPSIDE WAS THAT AFTER EATING THEY BECAME CALM. BUT THE EFFECT LASTED ONLY FOR HOURS.

HERACLES BROUGHT ALONG A FRIEND. HIS STRATEGY WAS TO SUBDUE DIOMEDES WHILE HIS FRIEND WATCHED THE HORSES. NEITHER MAN WAS AWARE OF THE HORSES' DIET.

WHILE HERACLES LEFT TO CONFRONT DIOMEDES, THE HORSES ATTACKED & ATE HIS FRIEND.

WHEN HERACLES RETURNED HE WAS APPALLED AT WHAT HAD HAPPENED. BUT THE HORSES WERE DOCILE & EASILY CAPTURED.

HIS 9th TASK WAS STEALING THE AMAZON QUEEN'S DAZZLING GOLDEN WAISTBAND, IT WAS A GIFT FROM HER FATHER, ARES.

AT FIRST THE AMAZONS  GREETED HIM WITH CURIOSITY. BUT AT HERA'S WARNING, THEY PULLED THEIR WEAPONS & ATTACKED.

HERACLES IMMEDIATELY KILLED THE QUEEN. A MASSIVE BATTLE ENSUED ... IN THE END, THE AMAZONS SUFFERED HORRIC LOSSES, WHILE HERACLES LEFT UNBLOODIED ...

HIS 10th CHALLENGE? TO STEAL THE CATTLE OF THE GIANT GERYON. TO REACH THE GIANT HERACLES HAD TO CROSS THE LIBYAN DESERT.

AT SOME POINT HE GOT SO ANGRY ABOUT THE DESERT HEAT THAT HE SHOT AN ARROW AT THE SUN-GOD, HELIOS

ADMIRING HIS AUDACITY, HELIOS PROVIDED HIM WITH A GOLDEN VESSEL THAT ALLOWED HIM TO QUICKLY COMPLETE HIS JOURNEY TO GERYON'S ISLAND HOME.

EVEN THOUGH GUARD DOGS & SECURITY TRIED TO STOP HIM, HERACLES EASILY KILLED THEM ALL. 

THE GIANT WAS FURIOUS, BUT HERACLES SHOT HIM IN THE SKULL WITH A POISONED ARROW.

THE GIANT TOPPLED TO THE GROUND & HERACLES HERDED THE CATTLE ONTO HIS SHIP & LEFT. HE HAD NOW COMPLETED 10 OF HIS 12 LABORS.

HIS SECOND TO LAST TASK WAS TO STEAL THE GOLDEN APPLES GUARDED BY THE HESPERIDEANS. THESE NYMPHS WERE THE FOUR DAUGHTERS OF EVENING.

AFTER VARIOUS MISADVENTURES THAT TOOK PLACE AS HERACLES TRIED TO FIND HIS WAY TO THEIR SACRED GARDEN, HE ENCOUNTERED ATLAS.

THIS ANCIENT TITAN WAS THE FATHER OF THE HESPERIDEANS. FOR 10s OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS ATLAS HAD HELD UP THE EARTH.

HERACLES PERSUADED HIM TO RETRIEVE THE GOLDEN APPLES FOR HIM BY RELIEVING ATLAS OF HIS DUTIES. THE TITAN QUICKLY AGREED.

THERE ARE MANY VARIATIONS OF THIS STORY. ONE IS THAT HERACLES HIMSELF STOLE THE APPLES & THAT LATER, ATHENE RETURNED THEM TO KEEP PEACE AMONG THE DIVINITIES ...

REGARDLESS, HERACLES SUCCEEDED AGAIN. AND HE NOW FACED HIS FINAL & MOST FRIGHTENING TASK. HE WAS TO CAPTURE HADES' GUARDIAN DOG, CERBERUS.   

NO MORTAL HAD EVER GONE TO THE UNDERWORLD & RETURNED. HERACLES USED DIPLOMACY, GOING TO HADES FIRST INSTEAD OF CONFRONTING THE 3-HEADED DOG.

HADES AGREED TO ALLOW THE DOG'S CAPTURE, BUT ON TWO CONDITIONS: HERACLES COULD USE NO WEAPON. AND THE DOG MUST NOT BE HARMED.

WHEN HE FACED OFF WITH THE DOG, HERACLES MANAGED TO PUT THE DOG IN A STRANGLEHOLD. 

CERBERUS PASSED OUT LONG ENOUGH FOR HERACLES TO BIND HIM WITH CHAINS & DRAG HIM FROM THE UNDERWORLD.

AND THUS HE COMPLETED HIS 12 LABORS, PASSING FOREVER INTO GREEK LEGEND.

IT'S WORTH NOTING THAT HIS APPROACH TO THESE CHALLENGES WAS TO INITIALLY RELY ON HIS STRENGTH —WHAT WE'D CALL 'BRAWN OVER BRAINS.'

BUT WHEN NECESSARY HE USED 'BRAINS OVER BRAWN,' OR CALLED ON FRIENDS FOR HELP, OR ACCEPTED AID FROM A DIVINITY.

IN HIS LATER YEARS HERACLES HARDLY RELAXED. CHALLENGES CONTINUED. 

NONE COMPARED TO THE 12 LABORS, YET ALL WERE MEMORABLE.

FOR INSTANCE, HE KILLED THE EAGLE WHICH HAD BEEN ATTACKING PROMETHEUS DAY AFTER DAY.  HE SAILED WITH THE FAMOUS ARGONAUTS. 

STILL, HE FELT AT LOOSE ENDS. HE RETURNED TO THE ORACLE FOR ADVICE ABOUT WHAT TO DO NEXT. SHE REFUSED TO SPEAK.

FURIOUS, HE PICKED UP HER THRONE & WOULD HAVE BROKEN IT HAD APOLLO, WHO USED THE PYTHIA AS HIS MOUTHPIECE, NOT APPEARED. 

THE TWO FOUGHT, FORCING ZEUS TO BREAK UP THE BATTLE WITH A THUNDERBOLT. 

BUT AFTER ALL THESE FEATS, HERACLES CAME TO HIS END ABRUPTLY ... WHAT HAPPENED? WHEN HE WAS OUT ONE DAY, A CENTAUR ATTACKED HIS SECOND WIFE.

HERACLES RETURNED IN TIME TO SAVE HER, SHOOTING THE CENTAUR WITH A POISON ARROW. 

THE CENTAUR THOUGH, WITH HIS DYING BREATH, TURNED TO HERACLES' WIFE & GAVE HER  A COAT HE SAID WAS A LOVE-CHARM.

IF SHE EVER BELIEVED HERACLES WAS ABOUT TO BE UNFAITHFUL, SHE SHOULD GIVE HIM THE COAT & HE'D FALL MADLY IN LOVE WITH HER AGAIN.

THE CENTAUR DIDN'T TELL HER THAT THE INSIDE OF THE COAT WAS MADE OF A DEADLY TOXIN ... SO SHE SECRETLY KEPT THE COAT FOR YEARS.

BUT ONE DAY SHE FEARED HERACLES HAD FALLEN FOR ANOTHER WOMAN. AND SHE REMEMBERED THE COAT, GIVING IT HERACLES WITH A SWEET SMILE.

HE REMOVED HIS LION SKIN TO PLEASE HER & PUT ON THE COAT.

ONLY SECONDS PASSED BEFORE THE POISON BEGAN TO EAT AT HIS FLESH. AS STRONG AS HE WAS, HE COULD NOT BEAR THE PAIN.

THE CENTAUR HAD GOTTEN HIS REVENGE. HERACLES BUILT A MASSIVE BONFIRE, DETERMINED TO THROW HIMSELF INTO THE FLAMES.

AT THE LAST MOMENT ZEUS SAVED HIM BY BRINGING HIM TO OLYMPIA WHERE HE WAS BATHED IN AMBROSIA & MADE WHOLE. 

THUS, THE MIGHTY MORTAL, HERACLES, BECAME AN IMMORTAL GOD ...

JOIN ME ... FOR THE NEXT EPISODE OF GARNER'S GREEK MYTHOLOGY

IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU HEAR, BE SURE TO VISIT Patrick-Garner-Books-dot-com OR FIND ME ON AMAZON ... 

I ASSURE YOU, MY NOVELS ABOUT THE GREEK GODS ARE AS ENTERTAINING AS MY PODCASTS!

A GREAT WAY TO FIND OUT IS TO DOWNLOAD MY AUDIBLE BOOK, HOMO DIVINITAS. YOU CAN GET IT AT AMAZON OR AUDIBLE.

AND THANKS FOR LISTENING ... THIS IS YOUR HOST, PATRICK GARNER ...