Hercules went on to have a ton more adventures before dying/becoming a god. Two I’m not going to cover in this series of Mythology Mondays are his adventures with Jason and the Argonauts (that’s a whole new series by itself) and the battle against the giants. I’ll tell them eventually, but through a broader lens than just Herc’s place in it.
Hercules had a few divine friends, one of whom was Dionysus, the god of wine. Dionysus wanted Hercules to tell him how to get to the Underworld. Hercules told him a few unique ways to commit suicide, but eventually relented. But not before challenging the god to a drinking contest. He lost, and had to join Dionysus’ cult for a while.
He fought death, and won. Not in a metaphorical sense either. There was a man who was dying of an illness, his wife offered to take his place. Thanatos took an appointment and when he was supposed to collect the wife, Herc strangled him until he agreed to let them both live.
He took bad kings off of thrones and restored the rightful heirs so often that the myths got a bit repetitive. He killed abusive bosses or annoying people. There was one man who would force travelers to work in his vineyard if they wanted to pass through without getting clubbed to death. Herc killed him and put an end to that. He won contests. He studied with scholars and killed thieves. He was the original super hero. I think of him as an ancient version of Chuck Norris.
He also saved Troy (long before the Trojan war). Poseidon had sent a sea monster to attack Troy, and the King of Troy was going to sacrifice his daughter to appease the beast. Hercules intervened and killed the monster in exchange for horses Zeus had gifted the city as an apology for kidnapping the beautiful young man Ganymede. The King went back on his word to give up the horses, so Hercules pillaged Troy and killed all his sons.
Next week, we’ll explore Hercules’ love life and his death.