Hercules, birth and upbringing

In Mycenae was ruled by a king Electryon. He was robbed of teleboi's fights, led by the sons of the king Pterelaya, herds. The teleboys killed the sons of Electryon when they wanted to recapture the stolen. Tsar Electryon announced then that he would give the hand of his beautiful daughter Alkmene to the one who will return his herds to him and avenge the death of his sons. The hero Amphitryon managed to return the herds to Electryon without a fight, as the king of the teleboys Pterelai instructed the king to guard the stolen herds Elides Polyxenus, and he gave them to Amphitrion. Returned the Amphitryon to the Electryon of his flock and received the hand of Alcmene. Amphitryon did not stay long in Mycenae. During the wedding feast, in a dispute over the herds, Amphitryon killed Electryon, and he and his wife Alcmene had to flee Mycenae. Alkmene followed her young husband to a foreign land only on the condition that he would take revenge on the sons of Pterelai for the murder of her brothers. Therefore, arriving in Thebes, to the king To Creon, with whom Amphitryon found a haven, he went with an army against the teleboys. In his absence, Zeus, captivated by the beauty of Alcmene, appeared to her, assuming the image of Amphitryon. Soon Amphitryon also returned. And so, from Zeus and Amphitryon, two twin sons were to be born to Alcmene.

Little Hercules strangles snakes
Little Hercules strangles snakes.
(Statue of the III century BC)

On the day when the great son of Zeus and Alcmene was to be born, the gods gathered on high Olympus. Rejoicing that his son would soon be born, the aegis-bearing Zeus said to the gods:

- Listen, gods and goddesses, to what I will tell you: my heart tells me to say it! Today a great hero will be born; he will rule over all his relatives who descend from my son, the great Perseus.

But the wife of Zeus, regal Hera, who was angry that Zeus had taken the mortal Alcmene as his wife, decided by cunning to deprive the son of Alcmene of power over all the Perseids - she already hated the son of Zeus before birth. Therefore, hiding her cunning in the depths of her heart, Hera said to Zeus:

- You're not telling the truth, great thunderer! You will never fulfill your word! Give me the great unbreakable oath of the gods that the one who is born today the first of the Perseid race will command his relatives.

The goddess of deception Ata took possession of the mind of Zeus, and, unaware of Hera's cunning, the thunderer swore an unbreakable oath. Hera immediately left the bright Olympus and rushed to Argos on her golden chariot. There she accelerated the birth of a son from the God-like wife of perseid Sphenela, and a weak, sick child, the son of Sphenela, was born on this day in the Perseus genusEurystheus. Hera quickly returned to the bright Olympus and said to the great cloudmaker Zeus:

- Oh, lightning-throwing Zeus-father, listen to me! Now the son of Eurystheus was born in the glorious Argos to the Perseid Sphenelus. He was the first to be born today and should command all the descendants of Perseus.

The great Zeus was saddened, now he only understood all the treachery of Hera. He was angry at the goddess of deception Atu, who possessed his mind; in anger Zeus grabbed her by the hair and threw her from the bright Olympus. The lord of gods and men forbade her to come to Olympus. Since then, the goddess of deception Ata has been living among people.

Zeus eased the fate of his son. He concluded an unbreakable contract with the Hero that his son would not be under the rule of Eurystheus all his life. Only twelve great feats will he perform on behalf of Eurystheus, and then not only free himself from his power, but even receive immortality. The Thunderer knew that his son would have to overcome many great dangers, so he ordered his beloved daughter Athena-Pallas to help the son of Alcmene. Zeus often had to grieve later when he saw his son doing great works in the service of the weak cowardly Eurystheus, but he could not break the oath given to Hera.

On the same day as the birth of the son of Sphenelus, Alkmena also had twins: the eldest is the son of Zeus, named at birth Alkyd, and the youngest is the son of Amphitryon, named Iphicles. Alcides was the greatest son of Greece. He was later named by the soothsayer Pythia Hercules. Under this name he became famous, received immortality and was accepted into the host of the bright gods of Olympus.

Hera began to haunt Hercules from the very first day of his life. Having learned that Hercules was born and lies wrapped in diapers with her brother Iphicles, she sent two snakes to destroy the newborn hero. It was already night when the snakes crawled, glittering with their eyes, into Alcmene's rest. They quietly crawled up to the cradle where the twins were lying, and were about to wrap themselves around the body of little Hercules and strangle him, when the son of Zeus woke up. He stretched out his little hands to the snakes, grabbed them by the necks and squeezed them with such force that he immediately strangled them. Alkmene jumped up from her bed in horror; seeing the snakes in the cradle, the women who were at rest screamed loudly. Everyone rushed to Alcides' cradle. At the cry of the women, Amphitryon came running with a drawn sword. They surrounded the cradle and saw an extraordinary miracle: a small newborn Hercules was holding two huge strangled snakes, which were still weakly writhing in his tiny hands. Struck by the power of his adopted son, Amphitryon summoned the soothsayer Tiresias and asked him about the fate of the newborn. Then the prophetic elder told how many great feats Hercules would perform, and predicted that he would achieve immortality at the end of his life.

Having learned what great glory awaits the eldest son of Alcmene, Amphitryon gave him an upbringing worthy of a hero. Not only did Amphitryon take care of the development of Hercules' strength, he also took care of his education. He was taught to read, write, sing and play the kithara. But Hercules did not have the same success in sciences and music as he did in wrestling, archery and the ability to wield weapons. Often had a music teacher, brother Orpheus Linu, get angry at his student and even punish him. Once during a lesson, Lin hit Hercules, annoyed by his unwillingness to learn. An angry Hercules grabbed kifara and hit Lin on the head with it. The young Hercules did not calculate the force of the blow. Kifara's blow was so strong that Lin fell dead on the spot. Hercules was called to court for this murder. Excusing himself, the son of Alkmena said:

- After all, the fairest of judges says Radamanf that anyone who is hit can respond with a blow to a blow.

The judges acquitted Heracles, but his stepfather Amphitryon, fearing that something else like this would happen, sent Heracles to the wooded Kiferon to graze herds.