Birthplace: Ancient Greece
Best known as: The hero of the 12 labors
Famed for his mighty muscles, Hercules was the son of the mortal woman Alcmene and the god Zeus. Hercules performed many legendary feats of strength, the first of which came as an infant: when Zeus's wife Hera placed two serpents in his crib, Hercules quickly strangled them. After he had grown to manhood Hera got revenge by driving Hercules briefly mad, causing him to slay his own wife and children. As penance Hercules performed his famous 12 labors (or tasks), which included killing the Hydra, capturing Cerberus the dog, and cleaning the stables of Augeas. Hercules appears in many ancient Greek stories and is one of mythology's best-known heroes.
Extra credit: In Greek he is known as Herakles... Hercules is sometimes confused with the biblical strong man Samson... Hercules was played on TV by Kevin Sorbo in the syndicated 1990's series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (the same series which introduced the warrior princess Xena)... He was played by muscleman Steve Reeves in the 1957 Italian movie Le Fatiche di Ercole, known in the U.S. as Hercules and later considered a camp classic... Hercules was also the title hero of a 1997 Disney animated film.
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