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The legendary hero Hercules, son of Zeus, and the mortal Alcmene were renowned for their strength and courage. He was a figure of Greek mythology who was celebrated for his many heroic deeds, including his twelve labors. Despite his legendary status, however, Hercules was not invincible. In the end, he was killed by a combination of divine and human forces. In this blog post, we will explore the circumstances surrounding his death and the various players involved in his demise.
The Oracle of Delphi
The Oracle of Delphi, a priestess of Apollo, was consulted by Hercules regarding the manner of his death. According to the Oracle, Hercules would die in a manner that was both divine and human. It was prophesied that Hercules would be poisoned by the blood of the centaur Nessus and that he would be shot with arrows from the bow of his cousin Eurytus.
The Centaur Nessus
The centaur Nessus was a monstrous creature, half man and half horse. He was sent by Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, to torment Hercules. When Hercules was crossing the river Evenus, Nessus offered to help him. Hercules accepted the offer, and Nessus carried him across the river on his back. As Nessus was about to set Hercules down on the other side of the river, he attempted to rape Hercules’ wife, Deianira. In a fit of rage, Hercules shot Nessus with an arrow, fatally wounding him. Before his death, Nessus gave Deianira a vial of his blood, telling her that it was a love charm that would ensure Hercules’ fidelity. Unbeknownst to Deianira, the blood was actually poisoned.
The Bow of Eurytus
Eurytus was an archer and a cousin of Hercules. He was the son of Apollo, the god of archery, and was renowned for his skill with the bow and arrow. When Hercules visited Eurytus, the two engaged in a friendly competition to see who could shoot the furthest. Eurytus was so impressed with Hercules’ skill that he offered him his own bow as a prize. Hercules accepted the offer, but Eurytus was unaware that the bow was poisoned with the blood of the centaur Nessus. When Hercules was later shot with the bow, he was poisoned and died a slow and painful death.
The Final Battle
Hercules’ final battle was against the Hydra, a monstrous nine-headed serpent. He was able to defeat the Hydra, but not without the help of his faithful companion Iolaus, who burned the Hydra’s heads with a torch. After the battle, Hercules was exhausted and in a weakened state. He was then shot with the poisoned arrows from the bow of Eurytus and died a slow and painful death.
After Hercules’ death, his body was taken to Mount Olympus, where it was burned and his ashes were scattered into the sea. His loyal companion Iolaus was given the task of carrying out his funeral rites. Hercules was then deified and made a god, and his twelve labors were celebrated as a symbol of courage and strength.
The death of Hercules was a complex affair, involving a combination of divine and human forces. The Oracle of Delphi foretold his death, the centaur Nessus provided the poisoned arrows, and Eurytus unknowingly provided the bow. The final battle with the Hydra weakened Hercules and made him vulnerable to the poisoned arrows. In the end, Hercules was killed by a combination of divine and human forces, and his heroic deeds were immortalized in Greek mythology.