Study Guide

Heracles (Hercules): Later Adventures and Death Heracles (Hercules)

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Heracles (Hercules)

Heracles, the Wanderer

What does a hero do after he's completed his quest? He keeps on questing, of course. But what is the Herculator looking for? What does he really want? Is he dying to be a god? Does he even want to be immortal? Or, does he just want an endless supply of monsters to kill and maidens to save? Your guess is as good as ours.

After completing the Twelve Labors, Heracles gives his wife Megara away to a friend of his and leaves town. Huh? (In some versions of this story, he actually kills Megara at the same time that he kills his children.) He then kills another random dude and feels really bad about it. His therapist, the Oracle at Delphi, prescribes him another few years of servitude. This time, though, he serves as a slave to the Libyan queen Omphale.

What starts out as a horrible punishment turns out to be one of the great experiences of Heracles' life. He and Queen Omphale love each other like whoa. And it turns out there are plenty of monsters and mischief to be had in Africa. He even gets to slay a dragon and do some cross-dressing. Everything seems to be perfect until…

Heracles leaves town again. He just can't seem to stay in one place or with one woman. Adventure calls to him.

Heracles and the Ladies

Heracles loves the ladies. He loves them so much that he keeps marrying them, even while still being married to his previous wives. He marries:

  • Megara;
  • Omphale;
  • Deianira; and
  • Hebe.

We never really hear what happens to the wives he leaves behind (except we do know that Deianira kills herself). Heracles just decides that the time is right to meet another woman. When Hera, Heracles' greatest enemy, offers him her daughter, Hebe, as a wife, we're like, "whaaaaaaa?" The goddess of marriage offers the man with three wives her very own daughter. Fascinating.

For much more on the most famous hero of them all, click here.

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