The Twelve Labors of Heracles

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12 Labors of Heracles

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Heracles is most famous for the Twelve Labors he completed in penance for the murder of his family. Have students create a chart that identifies and visualizes each of the different labors using the traditional storyboard layout. For a more extensive project, students can write descriptions of each one.


The Twelve Labors of Heracles


1 Nemean Lion The Nemean Lion was a ferocious beast that had a pelt that could not be pierced by sword or arrow. Heracles defeated the Nemean Lion by strangling it with his super strength. He crafted armor from the lion's hide.
2 Lernaean Hydra The hydra was a serpentine monster with multiple heads. Whenever one head was cut off, two more heads would grow in its place, making the number of heads increase. Heracles was able to defeat the Lernaean Hydra with the help of his nephew Iolaos. After Heracles chopped off a head, Iolaos burned the stump with a torch. New heads could not grow from the cauterized wounds. When Heracles cut off the main head, he buried it and covered it with a great rock. He dipped his arrowheads in the hydra's poisonous blood.
3 Ceryneian Hind A hind is a doe, or female deer. The Ceryneian Hind was a doe with golden antlers that was sacred to Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Since Heracles did not want to anger Artemis by killing the hind, he chased after the hind for a year until she was exhausted. He was able to capture and bring her to Mycenae.
4 Erymanthian Boar Eurystheus ordered Heracles to capture the Erymanthian Boar alive. When Heracles succeeded and carried the beast back to Mycenae, Eurystheus hid himself in a large storage jar in fear.
5 Augean Stables Augeas had several thousand heads of immortal cattle that were kept in stables that had not been cleaned in many years. Heracles' task was to clean the Augean Stables - a humiliating and disgusting task. As suggested by Athena, Heracles rerouted a river to wash away the years of accumulated dung.
6 Stymphalian Birds Heracles' sixth labor was to kill the monstrous birds that lived in a marshy area. Heracles startled the birds into flight with a bronze rattle (Athena's idea) and shot them down with the arrows poisoned by the hydra's blood.
7 Cretan Bull For this Labor, Heracles went to the island of Crete. His task was to capture an enormous bull that the king of Crete was all too happy to be rid of. Eurystheus again hid in his pot and wanted to sacrifice the bull to Hera, but she refused it due to her hate of Heracles .
8 Mares of Diomedes Diomedes kept horses and trained them to eat human flesh. Heracles fed Diomedes to his own horses, and the meal made them calm enough for Heracles to bind their dangerous mouths closed. He brought them back to Eurystheus.
9 Belt of Hippolyte Eurystheus ordered Heracles to retrieve Hippolyte's belt for his daughter. Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons, would have given him the belt, but Hera intervened and the Amazons attacked Heracles. He ended up killing Hippolyte and claiming the belt.
10 Cattle of Geryon Geryon was a terrible creature with three heads, three sets of arms, and three sets of legs, and he lived near the edge of the known world. Geryon had special red cows that Heracles had to bring back. Heracles killed Geryon and captured the cattle. On his journey back to Eurystheus, Hera sent a gadfly to irritate the cattle and they wandered off. Heracles spent nearly a year tracking them down and returning.
11 Golden Apples of the Hesperides Heracles was able to acquire the golden apples through trickery. He asked Atlas to retrieve the apples since he was related to the Hesperides. In return, Heracles took on Atlas' duty to hold up the heavens. When Atlas returned with the apples, Heracles tricked him into taking the sky back on his shoulders.
12 Kerberos Heracles' final labor was to bring the three-headed dog Kerberos up from the Underworld. Hades would not permit Heracles to use weapons, so Heracles had to face Kerberos with bare hands. He was able to subdue and chain Kerberos, and bring him back to a terrified Eurystheus.


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