21 votes
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Is it Heracles or Herakles?

Both are correct: if you're not going to call him Ἡρακλῆς, then you need some way of representing his name in the Roman alphabet. Systems for doing this have changes over time. The letter "k" fell ...
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16 votes
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Why is Heracles named after Hera if she hated him so much?

Diodorus Siculus tells us that Heracles was originally named Alcaeus and was renamed Heracles1 after he gained glory with Hera's aid: μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἡ μὲν Ἥρα δύο δράκοντας ἀπέστειλε τοὺς ἀναλώσοντας ...
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  • 16.7k
15 votes
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Was there a cult of Hercules in Germania?

He Meant Thor The report by Tacitus was indeed a case of interpretatio graeca at work. As the Austrian historian Herwig Wolfram writes: Thor must have been swinging his hammer as the god Donar ("...
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  • 7,626
14 votes
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Does Hercules have a tail?

It was a trophy. A Nemean Lion's Tail. It was the 1st labor of Hercules- it was Hercules' first great deed. The first of Hercules' labors was to kill the Nemean lion. Hesiod, in his Theogony, wrote ...
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  • 7,035
11 votes
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What happened to Prometheus after Hercules freed him?

You are referring to the Aeschylus fragment "Prometheus Unbound". Unfortunately this play was mostly lost. (The source text can be found here: "The Prometheus bound of Aeschylus and the fragments ...
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  • 13.9k
9 votes
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Is there a myth were Heracles chooses duty over pleasure?

This is The Choice of Hercules, or sometimes Hercules at the Crossroads, a story that was once rather highly regarded. First told by Prodicus, whose works have been lost. Prodicus was apparantly a ...
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  • 5,986
9 votes
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Do we know how Hercules avoided the Hydra's venomous breath?

Bile, Not Blood Technically it was not the Hydra's blood that was venomous at all. The confusion regarding this seems to arise from the fact that it was Hydra-venom in combination with someone else's ...
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  • 9,345
9 votes
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Why did Hercules murder his first wife?

Hera struck him with madness, and he killed his wife Megara and children. In some myths, his need to atone for this led to him performing 12 Labours of Hercules. Two plays, by Euripides and Seneca, ...
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  • 5,818
9 votes
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Goods reads about Herakles/Hercules twelve labors?

If you're looking for a summary of what the ancient poets wrote about, your best bet would be to look at Pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotecha. The Bibliotecha is a work that collates nearly all of Greek ...
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  • 6,578
9 votes
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How did Hercules kill the lion without being clawed to death?

Presumably, by "the lion", you are referring to the Nemean Lion. The Wrestler The poet Theocritus addresses this precise issue in the 25th of his Idylls. In it, Heracles (whom the Romans called ...
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  • 9,345
7 votes

Are there stories of a hero or god fighting off old age?

The one story that I found while researching the question, is the story of Thor wrestling Elli1 in the Gylfaginning: And again he said: Let me see first! Call hither that old woman, Elle, my ...
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  • 16.7k
6 votes

Was there a significant transformation of the Heracles mythos from Homeric times to classical times?

While the diachronic development of Heracles is an interesting development in and of itself, it's not really the case here. What we have instead is one later author's piety reflected in his treatment ...
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  • 6,578
6 votes
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What is the meaning of Hercules' self-immolation?

Yannis essentially answers the question here, but I'll add a little detail, just for fun, using poetry (since the deepest insights come from great poets) and linguistics. T.S. Eliot writes about this ...
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6 votes
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What is the name of the lake in Frogs?

It's probably Lake Lerna, a real (former) lake in the Argive plain. You might also know this lake from the Lernaean Hydra, the killing of which was one of Heracles' tasks. The lake has disappeared ...
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  • 6,578
5 votes

Are there stories of a hero or god fighting off old age?

In the ancient Eastern historical accounts of great kings, there is a mention of King Yayati who was cursed to become old & invalid. However, he was able to exchange his old age for youth from his ...
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  • 171
5 votes

Why is Heracles named after Hera if she hated him so much?

The reason that his mother 'Alcmene' named him as such, was to mock Hera's failed attempts at preventing her from delivering her child into the world. She required assistance to escape the Hera's ...
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  • 309
5 votes

Is it Heracles or Herakles?

It's both. From my limited greek knowledge, κ is kappa, which translates to c or k. As a result, there's a Herakles and Heracles. (Though to be fair, Herakles looks a lot "older" and traditional than ...
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  • 6,669
5 votes

Is it possible that the Heracles myths are a compilation of stories from multiple cultures?

Absolutely. I can think of at least three separate strands in the development of Heracles/Hercules: Walter Burkert mentions in his book "Greek Religion" that Heracles at least partially ...
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  • 166
5 votes

Which of these heroes lived first: Achilles, Hercules or Theseus?

Chronologically, it goes Hercules/Heracles, Theseus, and then Achilles in the main mythological accounts. Achilles is last. Hercules older by far because he's the one who placed child Priam on the ...
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  • 6,578
4 votes

The Atlas Continuity Issue

These are two different, conflicting and thus contradictory versions based on variant traditions. The older tradition is the one in which Heracles actually interacts with the Titan Atlas, who helps ...
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  • 9,345
4 votes

How does one get purified of murder in Greek mythology?

It is the law for one who is defiled by shedding blood to be barred from speech until he is sprinkled with the blood of a new-born victim by a man who can purify from murder. Long before at other ...
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4 votes
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Was Eurystheus a lover of Heracles? Did Heracles have any other male lovers?

Heracles had a number of male lovers. Plutarch's Dialogue sur l'amour (Eroticos) mentions that the number of Heracles' male lovers were beyond counting. Hence, the list of lovers presented here is ...
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  • 3,403
4 votes
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Has Herakles been swallowed by a whale?

The story of Heracles being swallowed by the sea-monster appears in the Alexandra or Cassandra attributed to Lycophron: αἰαῖ, τάλαινα θηλαμών, κεκαυμένη [31] καὶ πρόσθε μὲν πεύκαισιν οὐλαμηφόροις ...
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3 votes

Are there stories of a hero or god fighting off old age?

Ulysses, by Tennyson -- a classic poem of the aging hero. The full text may be found here. Tennyson begins the poem: It little profits that an idle king, by this still hearth, among these ...
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3 votes

Are there any surviving depictions/descriptions of Geryon?

"Siamese Triplets" sounds about right, really. Apollodorus Library contains a textual brief description of his anatomy: This island was inhabited by Geryon, son of Chrysaor by Callirrhoe, daughter ...
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  • 9,108
3 votes

Is it Heracles or Herakles?

Great question! Bleh is correct on the rendering in English (or other languages using the Latin alphabet) being dual, either a "c" or "k" It is also Hercules ! This is the Latin form of the hero's ...
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  • 13.9k
3 votes
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Why did Hades let Heracles rescue Theseus?

According to Diodorus Siculus, it was Herakles favour of Theseus that persuaded Hades to release him: Peirithoos now decided to seek the hand of Persephone in marriage, and when he asked Theseus to ...
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  • 16.7k
3 votes
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Who/What parented the Stymphalian birds?

The only ancient text which mentions the parents of the Stymphalian birds makes it sound like these killer avians were Arkadian [Arcadian] princesses. A scholion on Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautika 2....
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  • 9,345
3 votes
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How does one get purified of murder in Greek mythology?

It appears to be primarily by someone else ritually bloodying up the murderer's hands. The only place I have found a scene actually describing the ritual of purification from murder in Greek ...
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