Creation of Milky Way
Milky Way (银河)
12 Labours of Hercules (十二试炼)
Most Greek heroes were said to be demigods born out of a union between a divine father and a mortal mother. They were human but they were said to possess magnificent powers. They were warriors, lovers and world redeemers, but always under the watchful eyes of their parent gods of all the semi-divine heroes.
Hercules symbolised the ultimate superhuman. No feat was beyond his reach. He was born the son of a mortal woman and the supreme god Zeus who took advantage of Hercules his mother by disguising himself as her husband. Zeus' wife the goddess Hera became jealous of the infant Hercules, she attempted to have two snakes strangle him and his mother, while they were sleeping. However, the fearless infant killed the snakes with his small but mighty hands. At age eight, Hercules was said to have strangled a lion who had been killing flocks of sheep. As an adult, Hercules’ strength and bravery stood unrivalled but he eventually reached a crossroad in his life.
Baby Hercules strangling a snake sent to kill him in his cradle (Roman marble, 2nd century CE).
“One day, he was walking down a path and two goddesses appeared to him and they were the personification of justice and of good, and he had to make a choice between an easy path and an easy life and one that would involve being a just person performing labours and deeds for the good of mankind.”
The Choice of Hercules
At the time, Hercules was not aware of which road he would take. He eventually fell in love and married, but the goddess Hera was still determined to seek revenge on him. She cast a spell over Hercules, and in a fit of madness, he murdered his own children. Later, when he realised what he had done, Hercules contemplated suicide as a last resort. He sought the advice of the Oracle at Delphi, the priestess advised Hercules that he could redeem himself by serving a king for 12 years. The king instructed Hercules to embark on a series of tasks. If he could complete them, he would be elevated to the status of God and allowed to join the other divinities on Mount Olympus. The feats became known as the 12 labours of Hercules.
The 12 Labours of Hercules
Among these dangerous tasks, Hercules had to strangle a voracious lion which had been devouring animals and humans. Alike, he also stabbed and burned the multiple heads of the Hydra, a dragon-like beast who was destroying peasant crops. And he placated a herd of man-eating horses by feeding them the flesh of the master.
Pieter paul rubens, ercole e i leone nemeo
Hercules and the Hydra (ca. 1475) by Antonio del Pollaiuolo; the hero wears his characteristic lionskin and wields a club
Hercules Fighting Horses
Hercules triumphed in completing his twelve labours and became a symbol of courage at the end of his mortal life. Hercules had to be burned alive to melt all his corruptible and mortal parts. Then, it was said he ascended Mount Olympus to join the rest of the gods in ancient times. Sanctuaries were built all over the Mediterranean in honour of this great hero, but whether Hercules really existed is a riddle buried under a sea of broken marble and fragments of pottery for centuries. Archaeologists have been searching for answers as to whether heroes such as Hercules ever existed or if they were simply figments of imagination sprung from the minds of the ancient Greeks. The answer to these questions may be buried under massive ruins discovered in Hissarlik.