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The first labour- The Newman Lion

Hercules and the Newman lion by Pieter Paul Reubens

The Newman lion was a beast that took helpless women from the neighbouring villages. The reason it would do so wasn’t just for a good meal but also to attract heroes in their attempts to rescue the damsels in distress. Once entering its cave, the warrior would notice a grievously injured girl. Rushing to their aid, they’d be killed by the lion who was in fact masquerading as the victim. There’s two ways the story goes now. In one version, Hercules meets a boy who says that they’ll sacrifice a lion if Hercules return after slaying the beast within 30 days. If not, he’ll sacrifice himself to Zeus. Another version shows Hercules meeting Molorchos who said that if he was victorious, a ram would be sacrificed to Zeus and if not, it would be sacrificed to Hercules as a mourning offering. Hercules arms himself with several arrows but found them to be ineffective against the Newman lion’s golden fur. He changes tactics and forces the lion to retreat to its cave. Once in the dark, with limited room for escape, he stuns the lion with his club and strangled it with his superhuman strength. He then skins the lion using one of its own claws and used its fur as his armour. He returned to king Eurystheus who had assigned Hercules this trial. Fearing his strength, he refuses to let him into the kingdom and then sent herald to inform Hercules of his remaining eleven labours


second labour- Lernaean Hydra

The Lernean Hydra by Gustave Monreau
The hydra was a beast that was raised by Goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus for the sole reason of killing Hercules. It lived in the swamp near Lake Lerna which kept travellers away because of the toxic fumes. Hercules covered his mouth and nose while traversing the swamp to keep himself safe from the gases. He fired flaming arrows into the Hydra’s lair to draw it out. He then attacked the hydra with a harvesting sickle (according to some legends. Others suggest a sword or his mighty club). During the course of the battle, he realised that it was no ordinary monster as each head he cut off gave rise to two heads in its place. He then called on his nephew Iolaus for help at beating the beast. He then came up with the idea of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps of the decapitated heads, thus preventing them from regenerating. Seeing Hercules triumphing, Hera sends a giant crab to distract him which he crushes beneath his feet. Another alternate lore suggests that Hercules cuts a head off of the hydra and uses the poison that effuses out to decapitate the remaining heads. Hera, displeased with Hercules besting her creatures, puts them in the dark vault of the cosmos as the constellations Hydra and Cancer.


Third labour- Ceryneian hind

The hind of Ceryneia by Erica Williams

Angered that Hercules had survived the hydra, Eurystheus and Hera devised a new task that they thought was impossible for Hercules. So far, he’s always vested any monster they’d thrown at him. So this time, Hercules was told to capture the Ceryneian hind which is said to run even faster than an arrow. Hercules chases the hind on foot for a whole year, through Greece and the land of the giants, but to no avail. A version of the story says that Hercules finally caught it in a trap. Another version says that he immobilised it with an arrow to the forelimbs. Another version says that he met Artemis who told him to leave the hind and say that it was her will. Regardless, he returned with the hind. The king was hoping he’d get Hercules to kill it and anger Artemis in the process. Hercules begged Artemis for forgiveness and told her that he had to kill it as part of his penance but he said that he’d return the hind alive. The hind was to become a part of the king’s menagerie on Hercules’s return. Remembering his promise to Athena, he told the king that he could have the hind if he came out and took it from him. When the king came out, Hercules let the hind go. When the king questioned him, he simply said that the king was too slow for it.


**All images have been taken from greekerthanthegreeks@blogspot.in