Fun Facts - MYTHS AND LEGENDS
Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek demigod Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology,
Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. The Romans adapted the Greek hero's iconography and myths for their literature and art under the name Hercules.
In later Western art and literature and in popular culture, Hercules is more commonly used than Heracles as the name of the hero. This article provides an introduction to representations of Hercules in the later tradition.
The Labours Of Hercules
Hercules performed twelve labors given to him by King Eurystheus of Tiryns. For twelve years, he traveled all over to complete these incredible tasks. .
Kill the Nemean Lion
Kill the Lernean Hydra
Capture the Cerynian Hind
Capture the Erymanthian Boar
Clean the Augean Stables
Kill the Stymphalian Birds
Capture the Cretan Bull
Capture the Horses of Diomedes
Take the Girdle of the Amazon Queen Hippolyte
Capture the Cattle of Geryon
Take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides
This monster of a lion had a hide was so tough that no arrow could pierce it. Hercules stunned the beast with his olive-wood club and then strangled it with his bare hands. It is said that he skinned the lion, using the lion's sharp claws, and ever after wore its hide.
The evil, snakelike Hydra had nine heads. If one got hurt, two would grow in its place. But Hercules quickly sliced off the heads, while his charioteer, Iolaus, sealed the wounds with a torch. Hercules made his arrows poisonous by dipping them in the Hydra's blood.
The goddess Artemis loved and protected this stubborn little deer, which had gold horns. Hercules found it a challenge to capture the delicate hind without hurting it (and making Artemis angry). After following the hind for an entire year, he safely carried it away.
The people of Mount Erymanthus lived in fear of this deadly animal. Hercules chased the wild boar up the mountain and into a snowdrift. He then took it in a net and brought it to King Eurystheus, who was so frightened of the beast that he hid in a huge bronze jar.
The assembly is called the Fourfold Assembly because it consisted of four factors: (1) All 1250 were Arahats; (2) All of them were ordained by the Buddha himself; (3) They assembled by themselves without any prior call; (4) It was the full moon day of Magha month (March).
Thousands of cows lived in these stables belonging to King Augeas. They had not been cleaned in 30 years, but Hercules was told to clean them completely in a single day. To do so he made two rivers bend so that they flowed into the stables, sweeping out the filth.
These murderous birds lived around Lake Stymphalos. Their claws and beaks were sharp as metal and their feathers flew like darts. Hercules scared them out of their nests with a rattle and then killed them with the poison arrows he had made from the Hydra's blood.
This savage bull, kept by King Minos of Crete, was said to be insane and breathe fire. Hercules wrestled the mad beast to the ground and brought it back to King Eurystheus. Unfortunately, the king set it free, and it roamed Greece, causing terror wherever it went.
King Diomedes, leader of the Bistones, fed his bloodthirsty horses on human flesh. Hercules and his men fought and killed King Diomedes and fed the king to his horses. This made the horses tame, so that Hercules was able to lead them to King Eurystheus.
Hercules went to the land of the Amazons, where the queen welcomed him and agreed to give him her girdle for Eurystheus's daughter. But Hera spread the rumor that Hercules came as an enemy. In the end he had to conquer the Amazons and steal the golden belt.
Geryon, a winged monster with three human bodies, had a herd of beautiful red cattle. He guarded his prized herd with the help of a giant and a vicious two-headed dog. Hercules killed Geryon, the giant, and the dog and brought the cattle to King Eurystheus.
The Hesperides were nymphs. In their garden grew golden apples protected by Ladon, a dragon with a hundred heads. Hercules struck a bargain with Atlas, who held up the earth. Hercules shouldered the earth while Atlas, the nymphs' father, fetched the apples.
Hercules was ordered to capture Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of the underworld, without using weapons. Hercules wrestled down the dog's wild heads, and it agreed to go with him to King Eurystheus. Cerberus was soon returned unharmed to the underworld.
Almost every culture on Earth has legends of imaginary beasts.Some are like humans with supernatural powers; some are part of human,part animal; while others are unlike anything we know
No creature symbolizes eternal life more than the phoenix, a mythical bird known as much for its beauty as its immortality. The legend of the phoenix appears in a variety of ancient mythologies, including Greek, Egyptian and Indian. It is usually depicted as an eagle or other bird of prey, but may also resemble a heron in its delicate majesty. In most mythologies, the phoenix is associated with the rising of the sun and has a close relationship with the sun-god Ra. Another feature of the phoenix is that only one can exist at a time. When it senses that its life is coming to an end - about once every thousand years - the phoenix builds itself a funeral pyre made of cinnamon or other aromatic material and allows itself to be consumed by the flames. Then, as the old phoenix is reduced to ashes, a new one rises to begin its life on Earth.
Originating in the mythical tales of ancient Greece, the legend of the centaur has long fascinated mankind. Being part man and part horse, the centaur is stuck between two worlds: that of the wild beast and that of the civilized human being. Not only were centaurs part animal, they are also described as rowdy warrior types prone to heavy drinking and other primal excesses, which often brought them into conflict with their more cultured cousin, man. One exception is the great and wise Chiron, a centaur who was also a gifted healer and respected intellectual.
Since ancient times, sailors crossing the world's oceans have reported seeing mermaids, beautiful fish-maidens with long flowing hair and incredible powers of seduction. These exquisite creatures are described as irresistibly attractive with the torso and head of a young woman and the lower body of a fish. The first mermaid stories date back at least 3,000 years, and reports were still common up until the discovery of the New World by Europeans. Such tales sometimes describe mermaids as helpful, saving sailors who had the misfortune to fall overboard. Others convey a more menacing intention on the part of the fish-ladies, such as their fondness for making ships crash onto rocky shores. Still others describe these fin-tailed beauties as murderous beasts that seduce men with beautiful songs and then kill then mercilessly for the sheer joy of it.
The biblical monster Leviathan, a giant sea creature with glowing eyes and a nasty habit of crushing ships and devouring ocean-going humans. With its enormous body and scaly skin, Leviathan is usually referred to as a giant monstrous fish, but is also commonly described as a serpent, crocodile or marine mammal. It is mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, but it is sometimes unclear whether this creature was created by God or Satan. According to some ancient religious texts, God may have originally created a male and female Leviathan, but destroyed the female in order to protect the world from the possibility of a multitude of angry monsters roaming the seas.
Dragon mythology extends back through the ages at least 4,000 years. They are commonly depicted as large flying reptiles that breathe fire or shoot deadly poison from their nostrils. Tales of these giant beasts date to the dawn of human existence. They've also inspired many a young warrior to take up arms, bravely trying to prevent a malevolent dragon from consuming a fair maiden. On the other hand, some cultures actually revere the dragon for being gentle and wise. In China, dragons are a symbol of courage and heroism and are seen as protectors of the community.
This mythical animal is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and the monster Medusa. He is portrayed as a beautiful winged horse, sometimes white, sometimes white with gold wings and sometimes gold all over. There are a couple of versions of the birth of Pegasus in Greek mythology. In one, he sprang from Medusa's neck when the hero Perseus beheaded her. In another, Pegasus was born of the droplets of blood that spilled from Medusa upon her death. The image of Pegasus has been a favorite of artist for centuries; his likeness has inspired countless paintings and sculpture. There is also a constellation for Pegasus, a gift from Zeus upon his death.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures, portrayed as femmes fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on some small islands called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions, the literal geography of the "flowery" island of Anthemoessa, or Anthemusa, is fixed: sometimes on Cape Pelorum and at others in the islands known as the Sirenuse, near Paestum, or in Capreae. All such locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks.
Hydra is the multi-headed serpent beast with poisonous blood and breath so bad it could kill a man. There are numerous references to Hydra in Greek literature and poetry, but one individual Hydra is the most well-known for having been slain by the hero Hercules. He was known as the "Hydra of Lerna" because he lived in the marshlands of the Lernaean region of Greece. As the legend goes, it was impossible to win a battle with Hydra because cutting off one of its heads meant that two more would grow back in its place. Then the hero Hercules came along and figured out a strategy for winning a fight with Hydra. After chopping off one of the beasts' heads, he quickly burned the stump so a new one could not regenerate. He proceeded to unburden the monster of its remaining heads, cauterizing each wound as he cut.
The body of a lion and the head of a human, sometimes male, sometimes female. The legend of the sphinx has its origin in ancient Egyptian mythology dating back about 4,000 years. Often associated with guardianship, this creature is frequently placed architecturally at the entrance to a building or a city. The oldest and most famous sphinx is probably the Great Sphinx of Giza, which is situated along the west bank of the Nile River near the city of Cairo in Egypt as a guardian of the ancient tombs. One of the most intellectual of all the mythical creatures, the sphinx is known for its fondness of riddles. According to legend, anyone who was unable to solve the riddle of the sphinx was not only forbidden to pass – they were immediately devoured.
A werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope , is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse and/or lycanthropic affliction via a bite or scratch from a werewolf, or some other means. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius. In addition to the natural characteristics inherent to both wolves and humans, werewolves are often attributed strength and speed far beyond those of wolves or men. The werewolf is generally held as a European character, although its lore spread through the world in later times. Shape-shifters, similar to werewolves, are common in tales from all over the world, most notably amongst the Native Americans, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves.
The Heros Of Legend
Legend says that Arthur, King of the Britons, won the throne by pulling a sword – the famous Excalibur – from a stone. This was a feat that only the true king was able to achieve. Arthur ruled during a period of peace and prosperity in Britain. Some folks tales say that if Britain is in danger, Arthur will return with his kinghts to defend the nation.
The Robin Hood of folklore was an English nobleman whose land was seized while King Richard the Lion heart was away fighting in the Crusades (1188 – 92). He became an outlaw in Sherwood Forest and led a band of Merry Men (and Maid Marian, his true love). The robbed the nobility who traveled through the forest and passed on the valuables they stole to the poor and needy. Robin Hood was a master of disguise and many stories describe how he dressed as somebody else in order to trick his enemies or rescue his friends.
St George was a soldier from the Roman empire who refused to take part in the Empire’s persecution of Christians. He was executed for treachery and became a Christian martyr. Later, King Edward III made him the patron Saint of England. St George is the hero of a legend in which he slays a man – eating dragon that was guarding a city’s water supply. The city’s inhabitants were so grateful that they converted from paganism to George’s Christianity.
Also known as El Cid Campeador (meaning my lord, the champion). His real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar and he was a Spanish nobleman who was born in about 1040 and died in 1099. El Cid is a national hero in Spain because he is seen as a brave and accomplished warrior who fought to take control of Spain from the Muslims. Legends suggests that El Cid fought for both sides at different times.