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Perseus, Theseus, and Hercules

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1 Perseus, Theseus, and Hercules
Hero Myths Perseus, Theseus, and Hercules

2 The Hero’s Journey

3 Perseus

4 How and why did Acrisius put his daughter and grandson in danger?
King Acrisius wanted to have a boy, but the Oracle at Delphi told him he would never father a son, but his daughter, Danae, would have a son who would kill Acrisius. He built a house underground with a hole in the roof to allow in sunlight. Zeus, in the form of sun rays, visits Danae and she becomes pregnant with Perseus. Acrisius has Danae and Perseus locked into a great chest which is thrown into the sea.

5 Why did Perseus go to slay Medusa? Which gods helped him? How?
Perseus wanted to please King Polydectes with a grand wedding gift: the head of a Gorgon. Perseus’ pride causes him to seek this quest. Hermes and Athena helped Perseus in his quest by providing him with magical gifts such as a sword, winged sandals, a magic wallet, a bronze shield, and a cap of invisibility. They also help him discover where to find the Gorgons.

6 What role do the Gray Women play in this tale?
The Gray Women are three extremely old sisters who share a single eyeball, which they pass from one to the other. They are the have the bodies of swans, but they had human heads and arms. Perseus steals the eye they all share and, in order to get it back, they tell him where to find Medusa and her Gorgon sisters.


8 Perseus and Medusa

9 Who is Andromeda? How did Perseus save her?
Andromeda is the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia, who was being offered as a sacrifice to the giant snake attacking her homeland. Perseus flies by her when she is chained to a rock on the edge of the sea. He sees her and falls in love with her. Perseus decides to save her by slaying the snake and releasing her from her chains. They lived happily ever after.

10 Theseus

11 How and why does Theseus kill Procrustes?
Theseus has a reputation for punishing criminals in the same manner as their crime. Procrustes enjoyed stretching or “shortening” people according to the iron bed he used for punishing people. Theseus killed Procrustes using this same iron bed.

12 Describe the Minotaur. How does King Minos contain the Minotaur?
The Minotaur is half human, half bull. He is the offspring of Minos’ wife and a beautiful bull given to Minos by Poseidon. Minos had Daedalus create a huge Labyrinth to contain the Minotaur. Every year, Athens would give Minos 7 young men and 7 young maidens as sacrifices to the Minotaur.

13 The Labyrinth

14 How and why does Theseus kill the Minotaur?
Theseus volunteers to be one of the tributes in order to kill the Minotaur. This would prevent Athens from having to supply Minos with 14 young people every year. Theseus rolls a ball of string to keep track of the path back to the exit. He comes upon the sleeping Minotaur and beats him to death.

15 Theseus vs. The Minotaur

16 Who is Ariadne? Who is Medea? What do these two women have in common?
Ariadne is Minos’ daughter, and she helps Theseus discover how to escape the Labyrinth. Medea is the wife of Jason of the Argonauts. Both women are abandoned by the heroes who claim to love them.

17 Describe the two stories about Theseus’ reasons for returning without Ariadne.
Story 1 Story 2 Theseus deliberately abandoned Ariadne on the island of Naxos. Theseus puts Ariadne on an island to recover from seasickness, but his ship is taken by a storm. By the time he returned to the island, Ariadne had died, and he was distraught.

18 This part of the story is the origin of the Aegean Sea’s name.
Why did King Aegeus commit suicide? What does this seem to reveal about the ancient Greeks’ attitude towards suicide? When Theseus sailed away to Crete to destroy the Minotaur, he told his father, Aegeus, that he would fly a white sail to show his father that he was okay. Unfortunately, Theseus forgot to change the black sail to a white one, so when Aegeus saw the black sail, he thought Theseus was dead and jumped off the cliff. This part of the story is the origin of the Aegean Sea’s name.

19 Hercules

20 WHO IS HERCULES? Parents-Zeus and Alcmene (Greek woman)
Zeus tricked Alcmene by taking the form of her husband, Amphitryon Named him Herakles which means “glorious gift of Hera” in Greek. This upset Hera. Megara-1st wife Deianira-2nd wife

21 How did Hercules display his “specialness” at a young age?
When Hercules was a baby, two giants snakes were sent to kill him. The baby Hercules easily killed the two snakes by strangling them. Several versions of the story suggest that Hera sent the snakes because she was jealous.

22 Megara’s Murder Hera was determined to make problems for Hercules.
Made him go mad and he killed his wife and children Prayed to Apollo for forgiveness The oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns and Mycenae, for twelve years, in punishment for the murders.

23 Labor 1: THE NEMEAN LION His arrows had no effect on the lion.
Hercules trapped it in a cave and choked it to death.

24 Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra
9 headed serpent with poisonous venom w/ one immortal head Bashed in the heads with a club. Two grew back to replace each one. Iolaus, nephew, helps Hercules by burning the necks as Hercules knocks the head off.

25 HYDRA (con’t) Buried the immortal head and covered it with a huge rock. Dipped his arrows in the poisonous venom. This labor didn’t count because he had help.

26 Labor 3-The Hind of Ceryneia Diana's Pet Deer
Hind is a red female deer w/ golden horns and bronze hoofs Wasn’t supposed to kill or hurt the deer. Pursued the deer for a year. Eventually, shot deer with an arrow to keep from escaping. Carried it back and was stopped by an angry Diana and Apollo. He explained the situation so Diana healed the deer and allowed Hercules to take her.


28 Labor 4-The Erymanthian Boar
Huge,wild pig with tusks and a bad temper. Lived on a mountain called Erymanthus. Attacked people and animals. Stopped to visit a friend on the way, Pholus (a centaur)

29 The Erymanthian Boar (con’t)
Hercules drank the centaurs’ wine without permission. A fight breaks out and he killed the centaurs with the poisonous arrows. Pholus was accidentally killed. Chased the boar all over the country before finally capturing him in a net.

30 Labor 5-The Augean Stables
Clean King Augeas’ stables in one day Augeas was very rich and had many cattle, horses, etc. The stables had never been cleaned out. Hercules offers to clean the stables in exchange for one-tenth of his cattle. Made 2 huge holes in the stable walls.

31 5th Labor con’t Hercules changed the course of two nearby rivers.
Augeas refused to pay Hercules. He is ordered to pay Hercules by the courts This labor doesn’t count because he was paid for it.

32 The Stymphalian Birds Ugly, man-eating birds
Aided by Athena, who gave him a krotala, noise making clapper. He used this to make the birds scatter and then shot them down with either a bow and arrow or a slingshot.

33 Labor 7-CRETAN BULL Minos is the king of Crete.
King Minos’ mother, Europa, was carried to Crete by Zeus, who was in the form of a bull so the bull is sacred to Crete. Minos promised to sacrifice anything that Poseidon sent to him. Poseidon sends a bull, but Minos refuses to sacrifice it because he thinks it is beautiful.

34 Cretan Bull (con’t) Poseidon has the bull run all over Crete and makes Minos’ wife, Pasiphae fall in love with it. As a result, the Minotaur is born, part bull, part man. Minos shuts him in the Labyrinth and feeds prisoners to him. Hercules captures the original bull and takes it to King E who lets it loose in Greece. Theseus eventually kills the bull & the Minotaur.

35 Labor 8-Horses of Diomedes
There are several versions to this story, but none have a lot of details. The horses were man-eating horses. Hercules captures the horses and takes them back to the king. He releases them and they are later killed by wild beasts on Mt. Olympus.

36 Labor 9-The Belt of Hippolyta
Hippolyta was the queen of the Amazons The name, Amazon, comes from a Greek word meaning "missing one breast." The Amazons lived apart from men, and if they ever gave birth to children, they kept only the females and reared them to be warriors like themselves. The leather belt was a gift from Ares because she was the best Amazon warrior.

37 The Belt of Hippolyte (con’t)
She agrees to give the belt to him, but Hera pretends to be an Amazon warrior and makes the other warriors believe that Hercules is going to take the queen. Hercules kills in battle Hippolyta and takes the belt.

38 Labor 10-The Cattle of Geryon
Geryon has 3 heads and 3 sets of legs at the waist. These red cattle are gaurded by Cerberus’ brother, a 2 headed dog named Orthus. Hercules kills Orthus, the herdsman and Geryon and takes cattle. King E sacrificed them to Hera.

39 Labor 11-The Apples of the Hesperides
Golden apples were a wedding gift to Zeus from Hera. In a garden and they were guarded by a 100-headed dragon and the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas. Hercules comes across Prometheus and kills the eagle that is torturing Prometheus. (For giving man fire) Prometheus helps Hercules and tells him that Atlas must get the apples.

40 The Apples (con’t) Hercules holds the earth while Atlas gets the apples. Hercules tricks Atlas into taking the earth back. He shows the apples to King E, but they must be returned to the garden because they belong to a god.

41 The Apples Labor

42 Labor 12- Cerberus Cerberus was the 3 headed dog w/ a dragon tail that guarded the gate to the Underworld/Hades. Orthus, the Hydra, the Nemean Lion, and Chimera were all related to Cerberus. Pluto agreed to let Hercules take Cerberus, but only if he could capture him with his own strength. Hercules wrestled Cerberus to ground even though he was pierced by the dog’s tail. Cerberus was safely returned to the Underworld after King Eurystheus saw the dog.


44 Death of Hercules The centaur Nessos attacks Hercules’ 2nd wife, Deianira Hercules kills Nessos with one of his arrows. Nessos sets up revenge by telling her that his blood was a love potion. She rubbed the blood on Hercules’ cloak to renew his love and it burned off his skin. Brought to Mt. Olympus after he died.

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