Labours of Hercules - Context

Context

Driven mad by Hera, Hercules slew his own six sons. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his actions; he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. There the oracle Pythoness advised him to reside at Tyrins and serve King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing whatever labour might beset him; in return, he would be rewarded with immortality. Hercules despaired at this, loathing to serve a man whom he knew to be far inferior to himself, yet afraid to oppose his father Zeus. Eventually he placed himself at Eurystheus's disposal.

Eurystheus ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to recognize two: the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules was going to accept pay for the labour; and the killing of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules' nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules performed successfully, bringing the total number of tasks to twelve.

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