Monday, November 30, 2015

11th Labour of Hercules: Steal the apples of the Hesperides

After Hercules completed the first ten labours, Eurystheus gave him two more. The reason is that  claiming that slaying the Hydra didn't count, because he had help from Iolaus nor did cleansing the Augean Stables, because the rivers did the work.

Apples of the Hepserides.

The first additional Labour was to steal the gold apples, which belonged to Zeus, from the garden of the Hesperides.  Hera had given these apples to Zeus as a wedding gift, making this task was impossible. These apples were kept in a garden at the edge of the world, and they were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon (Ladon) and by the Hesperides. In Greek mythology, the Hesperides (Ἑσπερίδες) were the nymphs of the evening and golden light of sunset. They tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world, located near the Atlas mountains in North Africa at the edge of the encircling Oceanus. Other version of the Greek myth says that the location placed in the south of the Iberian peninsula.

Antaeus and Hercules fighting.
Antaeus and Hercules fighting.
The first problem of Hercules to solve was to find where the garden is placed. He started looking for the garden in Libya, Arabia, and Asia but he was not able to find it. During his jurney he was stopped by Kyknos, the son of the war god, Ares, who demanded that Hercules fight him. After the fight was broken up by a thunderbolt, Hercules continued hutning the garden. According to Herodotus, Hercules stopped in Egypt, where King Busiris decided to make him the yearly sacrifice, but Hercules burst out of his chains.

At some point, during his search, he learned that the Old Man of the Sea, Nereus, knew the location. Nereus transformed himself into all kinds of shapes,trying to escape, but Hercules held tight and didn't release Nereus until he got the information he needed. Later on his journey, Hercules was stopped by Antaeus, the son of the sea god, Poseidon, who also challenged Hercules to fight. He was invincible as long as he touched his mother, Gaia, the earth. Hercules defeated him in a wrestling match, lifting him off the ground and crushing him. After that, Hercules met up with Busiris, another of greek god Poseidon's sons, was
captured, and was led to be a human sacrifice. But Hercules escaped, killing Busiris.

Hercules finally made his way to the Garden of the Hesperides, where he encountered Atlas holding up the heavens on his shoulders. Hercules persuaded Atlas to get some of the golden Apples for him, by offering to hold up the heavens in his place for a little while. Atlas could get the Apples because he was the father or otherwise related to the Hesperides. When Atlas returned, he decided that he did not want to take the heavens back. Hercules tricked him by agreeing to remain in place of Atlas on condition that Atlas relieve him temporarily while Hercules adjusted his cloak. Atlas agreed, but Hercules reneged and walked away with the Apples.