Heracles (Part 1)

October 5, 2009

CC 303 Intro to Classical Mythology - Fall 2009
Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin, Prof. Lawrence Kim

Alcmene, Amphitryon, Megara, Eurystheus, Mycenae, Thebes, Peloponnese
Nemean Lion, Hydra, Augean Stables, Geryon, Antaeus, Hesperides

  1. Hercules: Birth and Early Pre-Labor Life
    1. Parents: Alcmene and Amphitryon (Thebes)
      • Amphitryon exiled from Mycenae; comes to Thebes
      • Am. goes off to fight for Thebes
      • Zeus pretends to be Amphitryon and sleeps with Alcmene
        • Extends the night to three times its length
      • Amphitryon comes back and Alcmene is confused
        • Two children born: Heracles, Iphicles
    2. Childhood Exploits
      • Birth delayed by Hera (prophecy)
        • Cousin Eurystheus becomes ruler of Mycenae and Tiryns
      • Kills snakes sent to his crib by the jealous Hera
      • Bites Hera’s nipple = Milky Way
    3. Early Years
      • Kills his music teacher Linus, Orpheus' brother
      • Sleeps with 50 daughters of Thespius
      • Marries Megara of Thebes
        •  Madness sent by Hera: H. kills Megara and three kids
        • As punishment he has to serve Eurystheus, his cousin
  2. The Twelve Labors
    1. The Six Peloponnesian Labors
      1. The Nemean Lion
        • Uses lion's claws to cut impenetrable skin
      2. The Lernaean Hydra
      3. The Cerynean Hind/Deer
        • Sacred to Artemis, Golden antlers, captured alive
      4. The Erymanthian Boar
        • Side Deed: Centaurs (Pholos and Chiron)
          • H. entertained by Pholos, a centaur (half-man, half-horse)
          • H. demands wine, attracts other centaurs; a brawl ensues
          • Chiron, teacher of heroes, is wounded by poison, but cannot die (immortal)
      5. The Augean Stables
        • H. must clean years worth of cattle dung
        • Re-routes two rivers to wash away the dung
      6. The Stymphalian Birds
        • Makes fly into the air with castanets, shoots them down
    2. The Four Ends of the Earth
      1. The Cretan Bull (South)
        • Will reappear in the Theseus myth
      2. The Man-Eating Horses of Diomedes (Thrace = North)
        1. The Girdle of the Amazon Queen Hippolyta (East)
          • (We will treat this later in the Amazons lecture)
        2. The Cattle of Geryon (West)
          • H. travels there in the Cup of the Sun
          • G. is three-bodied, with two-headed dog
          • Side Deed: Sets up the Pillars of Hercules
          • Side Deed: Antaeus
      3. The Golden Apples of the Hesperides
        • Atlas helps and tricked
        • Side Deed: Frees Prometheus
          • H. shoots and kills the eagle tormenting Prometheus
          • Chiron exchanges his immortality for Prometheus' suffering and is allowed to die
      4. Seize Cerberus from the Underworld
    Return to Syllabus

    1. *The "Farnese Hercules." Imperial Roman copy by Glycon of a Greek Hellenistic original by Lysippos, c. 320 BCE. From the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Museo Nazionale, Naples.
    2. Heracles. Attic Red-figure 'bilingual' amphora, attributed to the Andocides Painter, c. 520 BCE. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
    3. The infant Hercules strangles serpents as Amphitryon and Alcmene look on. Imperial Roman wall painting from the House of the Vettii, Pompeii.
    4. Heracles wrestles the Nemean lion. Attic Red-figure kantharos, c. 520-510 BCE, attributed to the Nikosthenes Painter. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
    5. Heracles and the Hydra. Vase painting.
    6. Heracles and the Hydra. Early Christian wall painting, mid-4th c. CE, from Rome.
    7. Hercules and the Hydra. Antonio Benci, called Antonio del Pollaiolo, c. 1460. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
    8. Heracles cleaning the Augean Stables (Athena on the left). Metope from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, c. 460 BCE. Archaeological Museum, Olympia
    9. Heracles shoots the Stymphalian Birds. Attic Black-figure amphora, c. 550 BCE, from Vulci. British Museums, London.
    10. Diomedes Devoured by his Horses. Gustave Moreau, 1865. Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen.
    11. Heracles in cup of Helios (Sun). Interior of Attic Red-figure kylix, attributed to Circle of Douris, c. 480 BCE, from Vulci. Vatican Museums.
    12. Heracles fights the triple-bodied Geryon Attic Red-figure kylix by Euphronios and Kachrylion, c. 510 BCE. Antikensammlung, Munich.
    13. Hercules and Antaeus. Antonio Benci, called Antonio del Pollaiolo, c. 1460. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
    14. The Garden Of the Hesperides. Frederic, Lord Leighton, 1892. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool.
    15. Heracles receiving the golden apples of the Hesperides. Metope no. 9, Temple of Zeus at Olympia, c. 480 BCE. Archaeological Museum, Olympia.
    16. Prometheus Freed by Heracles. Christian Griepenkerl.
    17. Heracles attempts to capture Cerberus in Hades, with Athena at left. Attic Bilingual (Red-Figure side shown) belly amphora by the Andocides Painter, c. 520-510 BCE. Musée du Louvre, Paris.