The Labors Of Hercules

Before the birth of Hercules Jupiter had explained in the council of

the gods that the first descendant of Perseus should be the ruler of

all the others of his race. This honor was intended for the son of

Perseus and Alcmene; but Juno was jealous and brought it about that

Eurystheus, who was also a descendant of Perseus, should be born

before Theseus. So Eurystheus became king in Mycene, and the

later-born Hercules remained inferior to him.

Now Eurystheus watched with anxiety the rising fame of his young

relative, and called his subject to him, demanding that he carry

through certain great tasks or labors. When Hercules did not

immediately obey, Jupiter himself sent word to him that he should

fulfill his service to the King of Greece.

Nevertheless the hero son of a god could not make up his mind easily

to render service to a mere mortal. So he traveled to Delphi and

questioned the oracle as to what he should do. This was the answer:

_The overlordship of Eurystheus will be qualified on condition that

Hercules perform ten labors that Eurystheus shall assign him. When

this is done, Hercules shall be numbered among the immortal gods._

Hereupon Hercules fell into deep trouble. To serve a man of less

importance than himself hurt his dignity and self-esteem; but Jupiter

would not listen to his complaints.

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