Heracles (or Hercules in Latin) is the most frequently portrayed hero from antiquity. He is generally shown with a club and a lion’s pelt cloaked over his broad shoulders. Heracles was the son of the supreme god Zeus and his lover Alcmena. Hera, Zeus’ jealous wife, was Heracles’ archenemy. He performed the first of his heroic deeds at the age of eighteen when he killed the lion of Cithaeron. When Hera drove Heracles into a fit of madness causing him to murder his own children, he had to do penance. The Delphic oracle instructed him to serve Eurystheus, king of Argo. Eurystheus gave Heracles twelve impossible labours, including the slaying of various mythological monsters. Assisted by the goddess Athena and his own strength, shrewdness and courage, Heracles proved up to task. After his death he was adopted into the pantheon of the immortal gods.



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