Hercules/Heracles (Greek name) is bar none the most famous demigod. He’s had Disney movies, television shows, and look, there’s Kevin Sorbo and my daughter at Dragon Con 🙂
The Greek myths surrounding this legend are numerous, so I’ll be dedicating a few Mythology Monday’s to him. Let’s start with his birth.
Hercules, the Greek version (technically Heracles) was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, granddaughter to Perseus and Andromeda which means that Hercules was descended from Zeus twice.
She was happily married to Amphitryon, so Zeus disguised himself as her husband while he was away and they conceived Hercules. Tireseas the prophet told her husband what happened and by some accounts she was exiled. (Interesting note, her second husband was Rhadamanthus who later became one of Hades’ judges). Another version of the myth has her coming home the same night Zeus left, and conceiving two children that night, Hercules with Zeus, and Iphocles with her husband.
Hera tried to prevent Hercules from being born by having the goddess of childbirth hold up the delivery, but Galanthis, a maid, stopped her and got turned into a weasel. The delay cheated Hercules out of a kingdom as the gods had promised the next-born descendent of Perseus would be king. While Eileithyia (goddess of childbirth) was delaying the delivery with Alcmene, Hera caused another descended of Perseus to be born two months premature and he was crowned King instead
In some versions of the myth, Alcmene abandoned Hercules to the elements because she feared Hera’s wrath. Athena, protectress of divine children scooped him up and brought him to Hera. Hera, not realizing the child was Hercules nursed him so he wouldn’t die. There was a breastfeeding mishap, and the spilled milk formed to milky way. The milk gave him extra super powers, and he was returned to his mother.
When he was eight months old, Hera sent snakes to kill him, but Hercules strangled the snakes.
Alceme later died in Megara (yes you read that right) and Hercules, born Alcaeus, was adopted by Amphitryon, Perseus’ other grandson.
Tune in next week for even more about Hercules!