December 24, 2020

#08-027: The Twelve Labors of Hercules - Part II

Hercules picking apples, with sheep and nude women behind him
The Eleventh Labor: The Golden Apples of the Hesperides

Note: Last time, we looked at the first six of the "Twelve Labors of Hercules." Let's look now at the remaining six labors.

Get Ready: Can you find a theme or a trend in the tasks that Hercules was assigned?

 After killing his wife and children in a mad frenzy caused by the goddess Hera (who was jealous because Hercules had been fathered by her husband, Zeus), this demi-god set out to atone for his transgressions by serving King Eurystheus of Tiryns. This represented a sort of "proxy war" between Hera and Zeus: the tasks assigned were not arbitrarily cruel, but were meant to show the weakness of Zeus's son.

Be sure to read of the first six labors before continuing the story below.

Seven: Capture the insane, fire-breathing Cretan Bull, father of the half-man half-bull Minotaur. Hercules sneaked up behind it and throttled it to sleep, subduing it for transport back to Eurystheus.

Eight: Capture the bloodthirsty, human-flesh-eating Mares of King Diomedes. Hercules killed Diomedes and tamed the horses by feeding them their owner's flesh.

Nine: Take the Girdle of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons, a gift from her father Ares, the God of War. Hippolyte agreed to give it, but then Hera spread a rumor that Hercules was planning to kidnap the Queen. The Amazons attacked Hercules (and his men), who was forced to kill Hippolyte and steal the girdle.

Ten: Capture the Cattle of Geryon, a giant with three bodies (but only one head). Hercules killed the giant's two-headed dog, Orthrus, as well as the giant's herdsman. He then shot Geryon in the forehead with another poison arrow and took the cattle.

Eleven: Steal the Golden Apples of the nymphs called the Hesperides, which were protected by a dragon. Hercules made a deal: he would trade places with the nymphs' father, Atlas, the giant who held up the earth--and who wanted a little break--while the giant got the apples. But when Atlas tried to renege and leave Hercules holding the globe, Hercules tricked him into taking it back "briefly" while he adjusted his cloak. Once free of his burden, Hercules went on his way.

Twelve: Capture Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guarded the underworld--without the use of weapons. Hercules, with the permission of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, grappled with the dog and carried him away over his shoulder.

His labors were complete.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. arbitrarily
  2. bloodthirsty
  3. frenzy
  4. girdle
  5. grappled
  6. proxy
  7. renege
  8. subduing
  9. throttled
  10. transgressions

  1. a kind of belt
  2. bringing under control
  3. wrestled
  4. murderous
  5. sins; wrongful deeds
  6. go back on
  7. without an apparent reason; randomly
  8. using stand-ins or substitutes
  9. a fit of wild behavior
  10. strangled

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for December 24, 2020

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. g; 2. d; 3. i; 4. a; 5. c; 6. h; 7. f; 8. b; 9. j; 10. e