1st Labor


The Nemean Lion. Eurystheus orders Hercules to kill the Nemean Lion a child of Typhon (son of Poseidon and Medusa). No arrow can pierce the lion and Hercules decides to kill the lion with his hands. He uses the lion skin as a cloak. The question is how he could produce a cloak from the lion skin that no weapon could penetrate? Well, he used the extremely sharp lion claws. Amphora from Psyakos, 520 BC, Breskia Museum Italy.

2nd Labor


Hercules and the Hydra. Is it possible that Hercules was fighting with this small Hydra? The Hydra was a child of Typhon and Echidna ie a half-sister of the Nemean Lion. It lived near a spring Amymone and had many heads which grow back when cut off. Iolaos, the son of Iphicles, helps his half-brother Hercules by cauterizing the wounds where the necks of the Hydra were cut through before a new head could grow back. Hercules usds the body of the Hydra to produce his poisoned arrows. Probably there is some relation between the word "toxic" and the Greek word "toxon," meaning arrow. An explanation is that the myth commemorates a plague which devastated the population of ancient Lernea.

3rd Labor


The Kerynean Hind of Artemis

4th Labor


Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar presented to Eurystheus (A cousin of Hercules who was king of Mycenae and Tiryns) He ordered Hercules the 12 labors. Here Hercules brings him the boar alive and Eurystheus hides in a bronze vase. He has a, opposite to Hercules, weak character. Amphora, 5th century BC, British Museum

5th Labor


Hercules and the the cleansing of the Augias stables, probably the most difficult work for Hercules :-). Hercules cleans the stables by diverting the River Alpheus to pass through the stables.

6th Labor


The extermination of the Stymphalian birds in North-Central Arcadia. Hercules killed the terrible Stymphalian birds. He used a set of bronze castanets he obtained from Athena produced by Hephaistus. The birds heard this noise they flew upward and were shot down by Hercules. 6th century BC, British Museum.

7th Labor


Herakles (Hercules) and the Bull of Crete. Hercules captures the Cretan bull which was the father of Minotaurus.

8th Labor


The Mares (Wild Horses) of Diomedes

9th Labor


The Girdle of the Amazons (queen Hypolyta)

10th Labor


The Cattle of Geryon, the son of Chrysaor (the child of Medusa)

11th Labor


Athena, Hercules ,Atlas and the Hesperides golden apples. Its subject is the winning of the golden apples which grew in the garden of the Hesperides, near the spot where Atlas stood, evermore supporting on his shoulders the weight of the heavens. Heracles prevailed upon Atlas to go and fetch the coveted treasure, himself meanwhile assuming the burden. The moment chosen by the sculptor is that of the return of Atlas with the apples. In the middle stands Heracles, with a cushion, folded double, upon his shoulders, the sphere of the heavens being barely suggested at the top of the relief. Behind him is his companion and protectress, Athena, once recognizable by a lance in her right hand. With her left hand she seeks to ease a little the hero's heavy load. Before him stands Atlas, holding out the apples in both hands... F.B. Tarbell

12th Labor


Capture of the Kerberos, the dog with three heads that guards the Underworld. Hercules goes to the underworld through an entrance in Taenarum in Sparta. He captures there Kerberos. 520 BC, Louvre Paris

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