The Labours of Hercules

# Labour Instructions Outcome
1 The Nemean Lion Slay the beast and bring its hide Hercules strangled the lion and skinned it.
2 The Lernean Hydra Slay the monster Hercules burned off its eight heads, buried its immortal ninth head under a large stone and then used arrows dipped in the monster's bile to kill it. This labour was declared invalid because he was assisted by Iolaus.*
3 The Erymanthian Boar Capture and bring the boar alive Hercules kept the boar on the run until it was exhausted and then captured it.
4 The Stag of Ceryneia Capture and bring the golden stag dedicated to Artemis Hercules pursued the stag for a year and then wounded it with an arrow, thus allowing it to be caught.
5 The Stymphalian Birds Destroy the voracious birds Hercules employed large rattles provided by Athena to startle the birds into flight and then shot them with arrows.
6 The Stables of Augeas Clean the extensive stables in one day Hercules led the rivers Alpheius and Peneius through the stables which cleaned them. This labour was declared invalid because he received payment for his work.*
7 The Cretan Bull Capture and bring the bull alive With the permission of Minos, king of Crete, Hercules captured the bull alive.
8 The Mares of the Thracian Diomedes Steal and bring the four man-eating mares alive Hercules overpowered the mares' grooms, defeated the local inhabitants and slew the king Diomedes.  He fed the dead king to his mares which tamed them and so he was able to take them.
9 The Girdle of the Queen of the Amazons Capture and bring the girdle of Queen Hippolyte Hercules was promised the girdle by the Queen, but Hera instigated a battle between him and the Amazons. This ended in Hercules killing the Queen, as he believed she betrayed him, and taking the girdle.
10 The Oxen of Geryones Collect the herds grazing on the island of Erythia After many adventures, Hercules reached Erythia and killed Eurytion, the giant, and Orthus, the two-headed dog, who were protecting the herds. He then killed Geryon. After further adventures and losing some of the herd, he returned with the remainder.
11 The Golden Apples of the Hesperides Steal and bring the apples Hercules reached the gardens after a long and perilous journey and met Atlas, who was busy holding up the sky. Atlas agreed to collect the apples, as only he could do so, if Hercules would continue carrying the weight of the sky for him. Hercules agreed but afterwards tricked him and fled with the apples.
12 Cerberus Capture and bring the monster-dog alive from the Underworld Hercules fought the dog and then grasped it by the neck and so was able to carry him off with him on his return.


* One of the two labours declared invalid, resulting in a further two being added.


Grimal, P. A Concise Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1990.

Smith, Sir W., ed. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1870.











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