Heracles is considered the greatest of the Greek heroes and the most powerful and popular hero who ever lived. Heracles made it clear from childhood that he was no ordinary mortal, but possessed extraordinary powers and divine gifts.
Heracles was born in Thebes, Greece, when Zeus succeeded in seducing his lover, Alcmene, by transforming himself into her husband. Zeus' affair with Alcmene led to the hatred of Hera , Zeus' jealous wife, and her determination to destroy Heracles in any way possible.
When he had reached manhood, Heracles married Megara, a princess of Thebes, and together they had five children. But Hera, who still had not avenged herself, armed Heracles with a destructive fury that led him to kill both his wife and his children.
When Heracles realized what he had done, he turned remorsefully to the Delphic oracle and asked the Greek god Apollo what he must do to receive forgiveness for his mistakes. Apollo advised him to return to his place of origin and serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns near Mycenae. However, Eurystheus was on the side of Hera and wanted to destroy the hero. To this end, he assigned the hero twelve challenging tasks, the so-called "Labors of Heracles".
When Heracles, the son of Alcmene, succeeded in his difficult work, the gods felt that he had accomplished a great task. So they gave him Hebe, daughter of the great Zeus and his wife Hera, in marriage, and Heracles went to snowy Olympus, happy to dwell among the immortals, unscathed by misfortunes and ageless forever.
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