Hercules wasn’t originally named Hercules. His original name was Alcides. Once his adoptive parents realized Hera wanted to kill him, they renamed him Heracles (Greek version of Hercules, the original) to try to appease her.
It didn’t work.
Young Hercules was a jerk. He had a music teacher, Linus, brother to Orpheus and son of Apollo and the muse Calliope, who created basic musical concepts like melody, and rhythm. Unfortunately, he made mistake of correcting his student.
So Hercules took Linus’ lyre and bashed his head in, ending the life of a brilliant musician in one petulant tantrum. Seeing Hercules was a budding psychopath, his foster father-uncle sent him to the fields where the only things he could hurt were sheep.
Hercules was then visited by two nymphs. Pleasure and Virtue, they offered him a choice between an easy life full of pleasure, or a hard life full of glory. In a rapid character 180, Hercules, the kid who just killed someone for correcting his music, you know, making him work harder to be better, decided that the hard life would pay off.
Hercules traveled to Thebes where he slew an entire army single-handed. He was rewarded by being given King Creon’s oldest daughter, Megara. The two lived a happy life, and had two children before Hera drove Hercules nuts and made him kill his children, and in some versions his wife. In other versions of the myth, Megara was given to Iolas. Hercules’ nephew, and then they had a kid.
Sane again, then driven newly mad with guilt, Hercules fled to the Oracle of Delphi and begged for atonement. She (working for Hera) sent him on a quest that would involve twelve labors. We’ll cover those in the next mythology Monday.
5 thoughts on “Mythology Monday: Young Hercules”
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Hercules was a murderous barbarian. We’ll never see a hercules film that’s faithful to the myths, because he was an absolute monster.
That’s true of most myths, I’m afraid. But it’d be cool to see Herc set up as a horror story
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