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The goddess Hera, determined to make trouble for Hercules, made him lose his mind. In a confused and angry state, he killed his own wife and children. When he awakened from his temporary insanity, Hercules was a brokwn man; he prayed to the god Apollo for guidance, and the god's oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years, in punishment. As part of his sentence, Hercules had to perform twelve Labours, feats so difficult that they seemed impossible, and the perfect embodiment of pathos; the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering which would lead to immortality

A - The Nemean Lion
The first labour set to Hercules by Eurystheus was the slaying of the Nemean Lion, a beast with claws of bronze and impenetrable skin that terrorised the land on the border of Nemea and Mycenae, and who had killed all that had set out to kill it. Discovering that his arrows were useless against the beast, Hercules would use his club to force the Nemean Lion back into his own cave, and in the confined space, he would strangle the monster. Hercules would return to Tiryns with the skin of the Nemean Lion worn over his shoulders, resulting in a sight that caused Eurystheus to hide himself away inside a large jar, and Hercules was forbidden to enter the city again.

AA - The Lernaean Hydra
Having survived against the Nemean Lion, Hercules was dispatched to an even more deadly monster: the Lernaean Hydra - a water monster who guarded one of the entrances to the Underworld. Raised by Hera specifically to kill Hercules, the Lernaean Hydra had multiple heads, but every time one was severed, two would grow in its place. Guided by Athena, and helped by Iolaus, Hercules would eventually overcome the Lernaean Hydra, by preventing new heads from growing, by cauterising the open wounds. The help given by Iolaus though, would see King Eurystheus discount this Labour. The blood of the Lernaean Hydra would subsequently be used by Hercules, for the hero dipped his arrows into the poisonous blood.

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The Labours Of Hercules Parts I & II

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