Heracles: A Son of the Gods
By: Jared Land
Long ago, when heroes still walked the earth, one stood out above them all. Heracles, a Greek demi-god, whose strength and courage secured him a permanent place in legends and myths for centuries to come. He wasn’t as clever as Odysseus or Nestor, but he overcame every task that was ever put before him with his god-like strength and ingenuity and lived a life that put many other’s to shame, eventually securing himself a place on Mount Olympus with his father and the other gods of myth. Heracles was an extremely passionate and emotional individual, capable of doing amazing deeds for his friends, or wreaking chaos and destruction down upon his enemies, or anyone who dared to cross him.
Heracles was the greatest of all the Hellenic heroes and there was also something that differed between him and the others. Where all the other heroes had tombs identified as theirs, Heracles did not. The reason for this is because Heracles was both human, and god. As such, he seems to embody the closest Greek approach to what they call a demi-god, or half-god. Alexandrian poets of the Hellenistic age drew his mythology into a high poetic and tragic atmosphere. (Burkert 1985) Many popular stories have been told about his life; the most famous and well known of these tales being The Twelve Labors of Heracles. These cover the tasks that Heracles had to do for Eurystheus as penitence for killing his wife and children.
Heracles was one of Zeus’s many children born from having relations with a human female. The human in this case was Alcmene, the wife of Amphitryon. Zeus disguised himself as her husband, and made love with her, thus impregnating her. Ironically, Amphitryon returned home from war later that night, and made love to his wife impregnating her with another child. Alcmene now had a case of heteropaternal superfecundation, meaning she was now carrying twins with different fathers. On the night that the twins were meant...