Hercules completed all of the tasks successfully Eurystheus
claimed that the cleansing of the Augean stables and the
killing of the Lernaean Hydra were not completed by Hercules
alone. Hercules was therefore set two further tasks bringing
the total number of tasks up to twelve. They were forever
referred to as the 12 Labors of Hercules.
Hercules Mythology - The
12 Labors of Hercules
Hercules has to complete 12 years of penance for killing his
children in a fit of madness. Not all the ancient classical authors gave the labors in
exactly the same order. The order of the 12 labors described
are according to Apollodorus of Athens (c180 BC - c120 BC).
The extra Labors of Hercules are numbered 11 and 12. The
final 12 Labors of Hercules are described as follows:
Kill the Nemean
lion and bring back its skin
the Erymanthian boar
the Ceryneian stag
Cretan bull alive into Peloponnesus
horses of Diomedes
girdle of Hippolyta
Herd the cattle
apples of Hesperides.
Details of all the
tasks and how the hero surmounted all the obstacles and
completed the 12 Labors of Hercules are described below.
The 12 Labors of Hercules
- Task 1 to Kill the Nemean Lion
The first of the 12 Labors of Hercules was to kill the Nemean lion and bring back its skin. The Nemean Lion could
not be wounded by any weapon so he strangled the lion with
his bare hands.
Labors of Hercules - Task 2 to Kill the Lernean hydra
The second of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to Destroy the Lernean hydra. The Lernean
hydra was a serpent-like sea monster that possessed numerous
heads which when cut off two heads would grow in its place.
Hercules cut off each of the heads and sealed them with a
burning torch to prevent reproduction. Hercules took some of
the poisonous blood of the hydra which he kept for future
labors. He buried the last,,
immortal, head under a rock.
Labors of Hercules - Task 3 to Capture the Erymanthian boar
The third of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to capture the Erymanthian boar alive. The
Erymanthian boar was a great beast that had its lair on
Mount Erímanthos. The hero drove the boar into thick snow
and was able to capture the beast.
Labors of Hercules - Task 4 to Capture the Ceryneian stag
The fourth of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to Capture alive the Ceryneian stag. This
was a stag with golden horns and bronze hoofs that was
sacred to the goddess of the hunt. The stag was so swift
that it could outrun an arrow in flight. Hercules chased the
stag on foot for a full year and eventually captured the
stag when it stopped to drink
Labors of Hercules - Task 5 to Kill the Stymphalian birds
The fifth of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to Kill the Stymphalian birds. The
Stymphalian birds were a huge flock of man-eating birds with
bronze beaks, claws, and wings that lived near Lake
Stymphalus and were the pets of the god of war. Hercules
used huge bronze clappers to scare the birds into flight
when he shot them down with his catapult.
Labors of Hercules - Task 6 to Clean the Augean stables
The sixth of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to clean the Augean stables in just one day.
The Augean stables housed by thousands of cattle and had not
been cleaned for 30 years. He diverted the streams of two
rivers, causing them to flow through the stables.
Labors of Hercules - Task 7 to Capture the Cretan bull
The seventh of the 12
Labors of Hercules was to capture the Cretan bull alive and
take it into Peloponnesus. It was a mad bull that the
god of the sea had sent to terrorize Crete. Hercules choked
the bull into submission and captured it alive.
Labors of Hercules - Task 8 to Obtain the Horses of Diomedes
The eighth of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to steal the horses of Diomedes. These were
four man-eating mares belonging to to the giant Diomedes.
Hercules killed the giant and fed his body to the mares.
After they were fed the mares became controllable and the
hero bound their mouths shut and took them back to King
Labors of Hercules - Task 9 to Steal the Girdle of Hippolyta
The nineth of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to steal the girdle of Hippolyta. Hippolyta,
queen of the Amazons, was willing to help Hercules but the
goddess Hera interfered making the Amazons believe that he
was going to abduct their queen. The Amazons attacked and
Hippolyta was killed. The girdle was given to King
Eurystheus who wanted the girdle as a gift to his daughter.
Labors of Hercules - Task 10 to Herd the Cattle of Geryon
The tenth of the 12 Labors
of Hercules was to herd the cattle of Geryon. Geryon was a
three-headed monster with three bodies and a total of six
arms. Hercules killed Orthrus the watchdog of the oxen of
Geryon. He then killed the outraged Geryon with an arrow
that had been dipped in the venomous blood of the Lernaean
Hydra. Hercules then had to herd the cattle back to
Eurystheus. But Hera once again interfered and sent a gadfly
to scatter them. Our hero recaptured the cattle and when
they were returned they were sacrificed on an altar to Hera.
Labors of Hercules - Task 11 to Steal the Apples of
The eleventh of the
12 Labors of Hercules was to steal the apples from the
garden of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were nymphs who
tended a blissful garden in a far western corner of the
world. Atlas was the father of the Hesperides. Atlas had
sided with the Titans in their war against the Olympians and
as a punishment Zeus sentenced Atlas to to hold the Earth on
his shoulders. Hercules offered to hold the heavens for a
short while in exchange for the apples. Atlas agreed and
retrieved the apples. Atlas did not wish to resume his
burden, but Hercules tricked Atlas into taking the world
Labors of Hercules - Task 12 to capture Cerberus the 3-headed Dog
The twelfth of the 12
Labors of Hercules was to capture Cerberus the 3 headed dog
Cerberus was the three headed savage dog with a snake for a
tail and snakes down his back like a mane which guarded the
entrance to Hades (Hell) and was one of the hellhounds. The
god of the underworld agreed to Hercules taking the dog as
long as he used no weapons to capture Cerberus. Hercules was
so strong that he was able to wrestle the dog into