Hercules

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Hercules’ mortal father was Amphitryon (nephew of Elektryon, ruler of Mycenae) and his mother was Alkmene; both were from Argos. However, following a violent quarrel between Amphitryon and his uncle, resulting in the accidental death of the latter, the family fled to Thebes where Hercules was born. In mythology, though, it was Zeus who lay with Alkmene and so fathered Hercules, explaining the origin of Hercules’ great strength. Hera, the wife of Zeus, was (understandably) always jealous of Hercules and made life difficult for him from an early age. The goddess delayed his birth so that his cousin Eurystheus would be born first and so become the ruler of Greece according to Zeus’ decree. Hera also sent two snakes to kill the new-born Hercules, but the baby easily strangled them. On the other hand, Hercules generally enjoyed divine favour from the Olympian gods - he did, after all, help them in their battle against the Giants - and he was particularly favoured by Athena.

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