Hercules is due to hit theaters later this month. Will you be in attendance? He is our focus for this month’s Immortal Monday.
The famous Greek demi-god, Heracles, son of the god, Zeus, and the mortal woman, Alcmene, is most commonly known as Hercules. The name Hercules was adapted by the Romans and used across the modern West. It is under this name that many artists, both writers and painters alike, depicted his strength and stories. The many great adventures by which he has become famous.
What story do you think Hollywood will tell you this time?
The one bound to make our hero look his best, of course. Throw in a dash of weakness and tragedy to make you feel sorry for him, a whole lot of tension, and you’ve got yourself a big budget motion picture worthy of Tinsel Town.
Heracles’s story is a long one. Today, let’s explore the story Hollywood isn’t telling you.
Let’s start at the beginning. Did you know Heracles had a brother? A fraternal twin, to be precise. Except his twin didn’t have Zeus for a father. This is known as Heteropaternal superfecundation, when two children are conceived by separate fathers within a normal ovulation period.
When Zeus came to Alcmene disguised as her husband, Amphitryon, he made sure his seed was good and strong. But the real Amphiryton came later that night, home early from the war he’d been away fighting. Thus the twin, Iphicles, was conceived, within the same time span as Heracles.
Could Alcmene really not tell the difference? Meh.
The ever vengeful Hera ~ constantly irritated by Zeus’s many escapades. She despised the young demi-god even before his birth. He was then known as Alcides―his original given name. His name would later be changed to Heracles in an attempt to appease Hera. It didn’t work.
On the eve of the great hero’s birth, Zeus proclaimed a member of his blood line, the House of Perseus, would become High King. He had high hopes for Heracles and was casting the foundation. He was not planning on what Hera would do next. Once the formal proclamation was made, she had him trapped. She got Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to delay Heracles’s birth, leaving the boy trapped in the womb. She then rushed to his cousin’s house and caused a premature birth, bringing Eurystheus into the world approximately two months early. Two month! Before neonatal!
Bound by his word, Zeus named Eurystheus High King. Hera had won. She had successfully stolen Heracles’s crown. First point for Hera, and she was just getting started.
Labor had been hellish for Alcmene, lasting close to a week, and by now she had a pretty good idea of what was what. Something along the lines of Zeus being the super-secret-sex-crazed-baby-daddy. She feared Hera’s wrath and what the boy meant for her family’s future days. She made the choice of a confused, terrified woman and abandoned the child in a field.
Can you imagine the state you’d have to be in before you could leave a child alone with no intention of returning? Pretty scared and desperate, I would imagine.
A sad state for any child, Athena took pity on him, scooped him up, and took him to Hera. She managed to trick The Mother goddess into feeding the boy from her own breast. Oops! Athena conveniently forgot to mention who the boy was.
Heracles was a hungry baby and he suckled taking in the nectar of the goddess, making him far stronger than any mortal. Making him the man of many legends, the man of godlike strength and immortality.
Then he bit her.
Angry, she pushed him away, wanting nothing more to do with him.
Her milk splattered across the skies creating what we now know as the Milky Way. Thank you Heracles.
Hence, the creation of a true demi-god: Zeus as a father. Magic boost, Hera’s milk.
Don’t you worry about Heracles’s parentage. When presented by Athena, his parents took him back. Alcmene was a better mother to him moving forward.
Of course, it wouldn’t be easy. Upon learning the identity of the child she had nursed, Hera was so angered that she sent two serpents to Heracles’s cot, intending to kill him. Um, yeah. He was found holding a strangled snake in each hand, playing. Can you imagine the look on his parent’s faces? His father immediately sent for the seer Tiresias, and so Heracles course was prophesied. Tiresias said the boy would vanquish many monsters in his time. And so he did.
Imagine if you were Heracles’s mother, or mortal father, even. How do you imagine yourself accepting the task of parenting an adolescent demi-god of such clear strength, with a Hera-wrath magnet built-in? Would you want to read more on Heracles in the future?
*images via Wikipedia. Click on one to be zipped off to the source.
The inaugural newsletter has sailed. It was loaded with special just-for-newsletter-subscribers nibbles. A mini Immortal Monday tailored specifically for the smaller forum and?
Miss out? Sign up so you’re sure to snag the next one in August.
Thanks for stopping by! I truly appreciate your support.
Until next time, immortally yours.
If you enjoyed this post, perhaps take a moment to click the Facebook Author “Like” in the sidebar. It would be much appreciated.
Never miss an update! Follow this blog and subscribe to our newsletter to receive special information and advance peeks at material on upcoming projects.
7 thoughts on “Heracles, the Birth of a Demigod – Immortal Monday”
I always wonder how Hera and Zeus put up with each other! Thanks for another enjoyable and informative Immortal Monday!
I think what saved Zeus and Hera’s relationship was the fact Hera was the goddess of marriage. So regardless of the things he did, she was determined to make it work. She was probably a little bitter about it, though.
Thanks for coming by and always being so amazing. 🙂
Interesting about the name. I always wondered how the Milky Way got there! Good post, Debra.
Thank you, Ted. I’m glad you liked it. Always appreciate you stopping by. Pretty crazy story about the Milky Way, huh?
Oh those lusty greeks – always getting into one scrap or another.
Mythology is mostly over my head but I do like short snippets here and there. Your blog is just about the right amount for me in one sitting.
Now Disney I could discuss and read about all day. Different kind of gods.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Patricia recently posted…So Much Is Random
And Disney did a rendition of Hercules, if you do recall? LOL. I haven’t watched it, but I’m sure it has a bit of the Disney touch, less lust and gore and more acts of heroism. Go Disney! 🙂
Can you picture a Disney version of baby Hercules? They might have him banging the snakes around his crib like Bamm-Bamm. LOL.
I saw Disney’s Hercules, a long time ago. It was a bit Disneyfied, but still got the idea across.