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Hercules Greek mythology
The belt of Hippolyte
After the success of Hercules in the eighth most dangerous labors, king Eurystheus was in a difficult position. He did not know what else he could order our invincible Hercules to achieve. So he decided to satisfy the wish of his daughter, to have the legendary belt of Hyppolyte the queen of the Amazons.
So Eurystheus sent Hercules in Pontus, on the north coast of Minor Asia to the Land of Great Amazons. This time, however, our hero, realizing that the battle with Amazons will surely be very difficult and probably bloody, he gathered a group of brave soldiers to accompany him. The Amazons were a race of warlike women. No men were allowed to live among them and every boy that had the unfortunate luck to be born in the amazon's villages was killed immediately after the birth.
The most courageous of all Amazons was the Legendary queen Hippolyta. Her father Ares, God of War, had given her the belt as a symbol of strength and power. She was demigod as Hercules himself. After a long journey, Hercules and his companions arrived to Pontus.
The Amazons however greeted our hero and his companions with honor and hospitality, they put aside the hatred they felt for all men, as the legends of Hercules's Labors traveled around all Greece.
Jealousy of Hera
Hippolyte hosted Hercules and his companions in the royal palace and during the dinner that was organized to honor the famous hero, Hercules told Hippolyte the reason of his visit.
"I came here to satisfy the wish of Admetus, the youngest daughter of King Eurystheus," hero said. "I would like to ask you to offer me a valuable gift, your belt, the symbol of your royal power." Hippolyte, without any objection, removed the belt from her waist and put it in the hands of Hercules.
The goddess Hera, however, wanted to spoil the peaceful and friendly atmosphere of this dinner. She took the form of a warrior woman and hide herself among the group of participating in dinner Amazons.
"I suspect," she said with a sly tone trying to lead other women "that these men are here with others dubious purposes. Let's not forget that the first and most important rule of our race is never to trust men. I've heard that the real purpose of Hercules is to dishonor Hippolyte and to destroy our kingdom. We have to stop them. "
The words of Hera awakened fear and hatred in souls of the Amazons and they attacked our hero and his companions.
Hippolyte and Hercules had to faced each other in battle and after a hard fight the son of Zeus defeated the legendary queen. Only then Goddess Hera revealed herself.
Sad and embittered Hercules returned to Mycenae with the prize of yet another feat, the belt of Hippolyte. This time he didn't want anything in return.
The oxen of Geryon
Not long after Eurystheus decided to send Hercules to a new mission. For his next mission Hercules had to make a long and dangerous journey through the dangerous waters of the sea, beyond the lands of the known, that only few sailors had ever crossed.
"I want you to go to island Erytheia, home of the giant Geryon and his flock. If you manage to returned to Mycenae with the oxen of Geryon, you will become accepted with honor and you may keep the animals".
Those flocks were shepherd by a terrible two-headed dog Orthros, the son of Typhon and Echidna.
Geryon himself was a very terrifying giant with 3 bodies from the hips and up, three heads, six arms and six wings that let him attack the enemies from the sky with high speed. Anyone who dared to approach his precious oxen had an unfortunate end, very quick death.
Journey into the unknown
Hercules knew all stories about Geryon and his oxen, our hero realized that he had to face many insurmountable obstacles. First of all, a long and dangerous journey to unknown places, then battle against a powerful and obdurate enemy.
In order to reach Erytheia he had to pull toward the West and cross the northern part of Africa. Each time he was passing different countries, he had to face new challenges.
His mother gave to him divine powers that giant could use only when his both feet were on ground. So in order to defeat him, Heracles grabbed Antaeus and lifted him up, so his feet would not touch the ground. As the giant lost all his powers, son of Zeus defeated him easily.
As battling with the giant was not an easy task, our hero was tired and exhausted, and he fell in a deep sleep under the trees of oasis, where he was found by pygmies.When Hercules woke up and saw these tiny people he started laughing as he did long before.
When Hercules has finally arrived to the shores of the sea, he had a smart plan on how to reach his destination fast. So he asked the Sun to take him under his golden cup, and so Hercules reached Erytheia safe. But once he put a foot on the island he was attacked by the dog of Orthros. The clash was terrible, but Hercules managed to kill him. Shortly after throwing the god on the ground, Hercules immediately began to drive the oxen out of the barn. Geryon furiously run to Hercules and attach him with the three swords, that he had in each hand, while the other three were holding three shields to defend. Once more Hercules managed to win. After a night of trip in the sea, was once again on the shores of the Mediterranean. At the point where the Lyberian peninsula is separated from Africa by a narrow sea passage, Hercules wanting to leave a mark of his passing, crafted two huge columns of Hercules, one on each side of the strait. In ancient times, these columns were navigators for the limits of the known, the world beyond that point was unknown.
He was forced several times to fight with robbers and animal thefts , but Hercules has finally arrived with the price. Eurystheus immediately sacrificed all oxen to Hera.
The Golden Apples of the Hesperides
For the next mission, Eurystheus asked Hercules to bring from the Hesperides garden, the famous golden apples that were hanging from the branches of the trees. These apples were a wedding gift from Gaia to Hera for her marriage with Zeus.
The daughters of Atlas, who worshiped these precious fruits had the habit to sneak into the garden and steal the golden apples. Hera was very angry about the stealing and she pointed three beautiful nymphs to guard the apples.
Egli (the radiant), Erytheia (the red-hair) and Esperarethousa (the bride of the evening), with the help of Ladon, a dragon with a hundred heads (son of Typhon and Echidna) guarded the golden apples day and night.
Anyone who approached the garden had to face the temptations. The sweet juicy smell, a desire to taste these fruits and a presence of three beautiful nymphs. The temptation was very strong but everyone knew that only death awaited in the garden. Sometimes with beautiful song of the nymphs, the creepy sound of dragon could also be heard. No matter how strong was the desire to enter the garden, people were staying far from it.
to be continued