Hailed as the greatest hero in Greek mythology, Hercules is known for his incredible strength, endurance, and perseverance in battle. Revered as an extraordinary mortal who has succeeded in completing the impossible, Hercules has truly earned his spot on Mount Olympus amongst the gods. Keep on reading to learn 50 facts about Hercules.
Fact 1: Hercules was the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine hero Heracles.
- He is the son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene.
Fact 2: Hercules is a demigod.
- A demi-god is someone who’s is born to a god and a human. There are many examples of demigods throughout Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse and Hindu mythologies.
Fact 3: Hercules was tasked to complete a series of impossible missions, the “Twelve Labors”. These Labors would purify him of his sins and grant him immortality if he succeded in finishing them all.
- Some of the 12 labor tasks included: slaying the Stymphalian birds, capturing the Cretan Bull, and stealing the Mares of Diomedes.
Fact 4: Hercules was a favorite subject for Etruscan art.
- In fact, he appeared often on bronze mirrors.
Fact 5: Mark Antony considered him a personal patron god, as did the emperor Commodus.
- Hercules received various forms of religious veneration, including as a deity concerned with children and childbirth, in part because of myths about his precocious infancy, and in part because he fathered countless children.
Fact 6: Roman brides wore a special belt tied with the “knot of Hercules”.
- It was supposed to be hard for the husband to untie, and it was used as a symbol of the brides’ innocence and purity.
Fact: 7 Steve Reeves was a professional body-builder who turned to acting and took on the role of Hercules in the 1958 movie, ‘Hercules’.
- Interestingly Reeves actually won Mr America, Mr World and Mr Universe in his bodybuilding life.
Fact 8: Hercules was one hero who was seen as a strong role model because he demonstrated both valor and wisdom in medieval mythography.
- The monsters that he battled, on the other hand, were regarded as moral obstacles.
Fact 9: In ancient Greek Archaic and Classical art, Hercules is often depicted carrying a knotted club, a quiver full of arrows, and wearing a lion’s pelt with sometimes also a lion’s head helmet.
- The hero usually appeared bearded and had very large eyes.
Fact 10: Hercules was considered a symbol of masculinity.
- He sired a long line of royal clans and the champion of the Olympian order against terrible monsters.
Fact 11: He was not all brawn, Hercules was smart as well.
- For instance, he managed to outwit King Augeas of Elis and tricked Atlas into taking the weight of the heavens once again.
Fact 12: With Hermes, Hercules was the patron and protector of gymnasia.
- The demigod was a playful individual playing games and entertaining children. He is often portrayed wearing a lion skin and holding a club.
Fact 13: Hercules’ existence was proof of Zeus’ illicit affairs.
- His birth enraged the wife of Zeus, Hera who has made many attempts to end Hercules’ life.
Fact 14: Hercules had a mortal twin, Iphicles, whose father was the real Amphitryon.
- Fearful of Hera’s revenge, Alcmene abandoned Hercules in the woods only to be found by Athena who then took the infant Hercules to Hera. Hera did not recognise him, and she nursed him out of pity.
Fact 15: With Hera’s divine milk, Hercules gained supernatural powers.
- Athena then brought him back to his parents who raised him as Alcides.
Fact 16: When Hercules and Iphicles were eight months old, Hera sent two giant snakes to their chambers.
- This proved futile since Hercules was able to grab and strangle the snakes to protect himself and his brother.
Fact 17: In Thebes, Heracles married King Creon’s daughter Megara.
- Hera, still spiteful, induced a fit of madness on Hercules, causing him to kill his family.
Fact 18: The hero was then ordered to serve his sworn enemy, King Eurystheus to atone for his sins.
- Hercules served the king for 10 years and performed any task asked of him to “purify” him of his crime of killing his children.
Fact 19: After completing his tasks, Hercules went on to join the Argonauts in the search for the Golden Fleece.
- The Argonauts were a band of heroes in Greek mythology, who accompanied Jason to Colchis, in his quest to find the Golden Fleece before the events in the Trojan War.
Fact 20: Hercules wanted to kill himself.
- The grief of killing his family proved too much to the demi-god who at that point wanted to die. But his cousin, Theseus convinced him that would be cowardly and that he must find a way to atone for his sins.
Fact 21: Hera drove Hercules mad again, leading to him throwing his best friend over the city wall to his death.
- To purify himself of this sin, Hercules served Queen Omphale of Lydia for three years, and dressed in women’s clothes and did the ladies’ work.
Fact 22: Hercules met his demise when he married Deianira.
- Deianira was tricked by a former foe of Heracles and accidentally poisoned her husband via a shirt dipped in venom.
Fact 23: The demigod suffered a slow, painful death.
- He climbed Mt. Etna where he built his own funeral pyre. He then lay down, with his head resting on his club and the Nemean lion’s skin covering him.
Fact 24: On Hercules’ deathbed, Zeus sent lightning to consume the hero’s mortal body and to take him to Mount Olympus.
- This was the apotheosis, the transformation of Hercules into a god.
Fact 25: Hercules shot and killed the eagle that tortured Prometheus.
- Prometheus, in turn, made predictions regarding the future great deeds of Hercules.
Fact 26: Hercules was the only hero in Greek mythology who had cults established all over Greece dedicated to him.
- His incredible feats in overcoming monsters made him a protector of many cities.
Fact 27: Ironically, Hercule’s name means “Glory of Hera”.
- Even though Hera was his implacable enemy, Hercules was named after his nemesis.
Fact 28: On his first task of the 12 Labors, Hercules killed the Nemean Lion by trapping the animal in its cave and strangling it.
- He went on to wear the lion’s pelt as a cloak for the rest of his life.
Fact 29: Hercules’ second task was to kill a poisonous, snake-like creature who lived underwater, guarding the entrance to the Underworld.
- For this task, Hercules had the help of his nephew Iolaus. He cut off each of the monster’s heads while Iolaus burned each wound with a torch.
Fact 30: To kill the Erymanthean Boar, he used a giant snare to terrify the animal.
- The boar was known to terrorize Mt. Erymanthus and used to kill the villagers.
Fact 31: Hercules helped to defeat the Titans and rescued the world from chaos, and the gods from imprisonment.
- He then sailed back to Greece to get revenge on Augeius for refusing to honour his agreement when he cleaned out the stables.
Fact 32: In the Disney film “Hercules”, Hades releases the Titans from a place at the bottom of the ocean.
- But in the original myth, they were banished to Tartarus, which is in the deepest and worst section of the Underworld.
Fact 33: The spice girls also played the part of the “Muses” in the Disney animated film, “Hercules”.
- One of their most memorable songs in the movie has to be “Zero to hero”.
Fact 34: Hera, once again, tried to kill Hercules during his 9th task: obtaining the girdle of Hippolyta.
- The troublemaking Hera disguised herself as an Amazon warrior and spread a rumour that Hercules intended to kidnap the Queen. To protect their leader, the women attacked the hero’s fleet. Fearing for his safety, Hercules killed Hippolyte and ripped the belt from her body.
Fact 35: When Hercules became a God, Hera finally had a change of heart about him.
- Once Hercules was made a god, she reconciled with her stepson and even gave him her daughter Hebe to be his divine wife.
Fact 36: His great grandfather is Perseus.
- Alcmene, Hercules’ Mother was the granddaughter of Perseus, possibly Greece’s greatest hero before Hercules himself.
Fact 37: For his twelfth and final task, Hercules was to capture and release Cerberus.
- Hercules travelled to Hades to kidnap Cerberus, the vicious three-headed dog. Hercules managed to capture Cerberus by using his superhuman strength to wrestle the monster to the ground. Afterwards, the dog returned unharmed to his post at the entrance to the Underworld.
Fact 38: In some versions of Hercules’ death, it was Athena who carried him to Olympus on her chariot.
- He then spent the rest of eternity with the gods.
Fact 39: Hercules had multiple stepfathers.
- He had two stepfathers. The first was Amphitryon, a Theban general, and Radamanthes, a wise king, who was the son of Zeus and Europa, and later one of the judges of the dead.
Fact 40: Hercules killed his first wife, Megara.
- Megara was the oldest daughter of Creon, king of Thebes. In reward for Hercules’ defending Thebes from invaders, Creon offered his daughter Megara to Heracles, and then they married.
Fact 41: It took Hercules 12 years to complete all 12 of the impossible Labor tasks.
- And after killing Iphitus, he had to spend another year serving under a Queen.
Fact 42: Hercules had a lot of children.
- According to some beliefs, he had one child by each of Thespius’ fifty daughters.
Fact 43: Hercules, apparently, was once in a homosexual relationship.
- Hercules and his nephew, Iolaus shared so much time, passions, strengths and life together, that some believed that they shared intimate sexual moments together as well.
Fact 44: Hercules killed his music teacher, Linus.
- The greek hero was also known for his short temper, and in his youth, his music master was teaching Hercules to play the lyre, but when Hercules became frustrated, he killed his master through his rage.
Fact 45: In the 1997 Disney Film “Hercules”.
- Hercules’ main foe was Hades.
Fact 46: Hercules became Queen Omphale’s slave.
- The penalty included wearing women’s clothes, as well as spinning wool and wearing delicate tunics, due to which he was mistaken for a girl and mocked by gods, especially Pan.
Fact 47: Hercules married Hera’s daughter, Hebe.
- Just after he had obtained immortality, Hercules married Hebe, with whom he had two sons, Alexiaris and Anicetus.
Fact 48: You can find Hercules on really old Roman coins.
- Hercules has been the main motif on many medals and collectors coins too.
Fact 49: A number of temples were built in honour of Hercules.
- There were temple sites built in honour of Hercules that were plundered, thus ruined to the ground. Fortunately, there are a few still standing still, among which is a small temple at the oracle site of Dodona in northwestern Greece.
Fact 50: There have been numerous films about the famous demigod.
- The most recent was the 2014 film, “Hercules”, which starred Dwayne Johnson as the famous Greek hero.