Stories from the past can still teach us important things about our approach to life, and solving its problems says DESPINA NICOLA

Many of us face several dark chapters in life. As did Hercules, whose mythological journey, led him to murder his beloved wife and children. The depth of this tragedy is heightened by the fact that Hercules had no awareness of his own actions, as the powerful goddess Hera clouded his perception.

Stories like this are seen as life lessons, each teaching us the important lessons of resilience, adaptability and wisdom.

Hera was a powerful goddess in Greek stories, married to Zeus, the king of the gods. She was in charge of marriage and families, and didn’t get along with Zeus because he had children from other relationships, including Hercules and she was often jealous.

The aftermath of Hercules waking up to the consequences of his actions paints a vivid picture of his inner turmoil. The burden he carries, coupled with the shock of realising the heinous act he committed, adds emotional weight to his journey of redemption.

Learning about Hercules’ Twelve Labours is important because, they are stories from ancient times, helping us understand the beliefs and culture of that time. Hercules embraces a hero’s adventure, where he faces challenges and grows stronger. It’s a common theme in many stories worldwide. It also has symbols and meanings; the labours give us deeper insights into human experiences and struggles.

They are also inspirational for art and stories, that have inspired many books, movies and artworks throughout history.

Now, let’s shift gears to appreciate Hercules, the legendary powerhouse with a resilient spirit! He faced a series of heroic challenges as atonement for accidentally causing harm to his own family. He tackled each task with exceptional strength, unmatched bravery and clever problem-solving. Showing bravery, patience and kindness, we can still learn from his legacy today.

But what are the lessons from each of Hercules’ Twelve Labours

  1. The Nemean Lion

Hercules strangled the Nemean Lion, emphasising that facing challenges head-on with determination and a positive mindset can turn seemingly impossible situations into triumphs.

  1. The Lernaean Hydra

Hercules defeated the Hydra by systematically addressing each head and preventing regeneration. This teaches us the importance of addressing problems step by step and being thorough to prevent complications from resurfacing.

  1. The Ceryneian Hind

Capturing the sacred Ceryneian Hind required patience and understanding, showing that approaching challenges with empathy and a calm demeanour can transform difficult situations into positive outcomes.

  1. The Erymanthian Boar

Subduing the Erymanthian Boar involved Hercules turning a potentially dangerous situation into a joyful one. The lesson here is that maintaining a sense of humour and finding joy in challenging circumstances can lead to successful outcomes.

  1. The Augean Stables

Cleaning the Augean Stables involved creativity as Hercules diverted rivers to wash away filth. This labour teaches us that approaching daunting tasks with innovative solutions and creativity can make them more manageable and even enjoyable.

  1. The Stymphalian Birds

Hercules used creativity and rhythm to turn a challenging situation into a game, highlighting the power of creativity and a strategic approach in overcoming obstacles with grace and efficiency.

  1. The Cretan Bull

Capturing the Cretan Bull required Hercules to bring order to chaos with grace. This labour teaches us that maintaining composure and addressing chaotic situations with poise can turn adversaries into allies.

  1. The Horses of Diomedes

Seizing the man-eating horses involved an act of kindness and understanding. This emphasises that compassion and understanding can lead to transformation and the conversion of potential adversaries into allies.

  1. The Belt of Hippolyta

Obtaining the magical girdle involved navigating misunderstandings. The lesson here is that helping others find love and understanding, even in the face of challenges, can lead to unexpected rewards.

  1. The Cattle of Geryon

Stealing the cattle required Hercules to make the task enjoyable, turning a daunting mission into an adventure. This labour teaches us that finding joy and purpose in our endeavors can make even the most challenging tasks more manageable.

  1. The Apples of the Hesperides

Retrieving the golden apples involved diplomacy and finding common ground. This highlights the importance of communication, diplomacy and collaboration in overcoming formidable obstacles.

  1. Cerberus

Capturing and later releasing Cerberus required Hercules to approach the task with fun and understanding, showing that tackling challenging situations with a sense of humour and empathy can turn them into memorable and transformative experiences.

The labours became a central part of Hercules’ mythological narrative. Most importantly they apply as lessons today that can help us face challenges, be strong and develop positive qualities in our everyday lives.

It is vital to understand our ancient beliefs, and studying these labours lets us see how people in ancient times thought about gods, heroes and the world around them. This leads to our educational evolution, giving us a chance to explore different aspects of human culture and storytelling.

In simpler terms, learning about Hercules’ Twelve Labours is like discovering stories from the past that still teach us important things about being strong, kind, and facing challenges today.