Myths in this article:

  1. Heracles and the Giants – Titan Gaia gave birth to the giants from the blood of the defeated titan Cronus. The giants were so powerful that they flaunted their power, and Gaia gave them invulnerability to the weapons of the gods, but failed to protect them from the threat of the weapons of mortals. And so Heracles helped the gods deal with the giants, because he had the blood of a mortal.
  2. Heracles’ Death – after Heracles was sold to Omphalos as a slave, he was away from home for three years and three months, and as predicted by the city of Dodona: if he delayed exactly three years and three months, he would either die, or he will return to live happily. Heracles’ wife, Deianira, finds out about the beautiful Yola, whom Heracles wanted to marry, so Deianira resorted to the blood of the centaur (when he kidnapped her and was saved by the centaur, he gave her his blood if Heracles ever stopped her. loves to rub his garment with this blood to love it forever). But without knowing it, Heracles died of blood because she was infected with the poison of the Lerneian hydra.

Related articles:

Hercules/Heracles Myths And The Twelve Labors – Part 1
Hercules/Heracles Myths and The twelve Labors – Part 2 
Myths of Hercules/Heracles – Part 3 – The Stables, The Bull, The horses and The Belt
Myths of Hercules/Heracles – Part 4 – Cattle, Fearsome Cerberus and the Golden Apples 
Myths of Hercules/Heracles – Part 5 – Siege of Troy 

Hercules Against the Giants

Heracles’ father Zeus sent his beloved daughter Athena Paladas to the blade of Kos to summon the great hero to help the gods in their fight against the giants. The giants were born to the goddess Gaia from the drops of blood that flowed from the body of Uranus, who was defeated by Cronus. They were monstrous giants with snakes instead of legs, with tousled long hair and a beard.

The giants were terribly strong, proud of their power, and wanted to take away their power over the world from the bright Olympian gods. They went into battle with the gods on the Flegrean fields, which were located on the Halkidiki peninsula of Palena. They were not afraid of the Olympian gods. The mother of the giants, Gaia, gave them a medicine that made them invulnerable to the weapons of the gods. Only a mortal could kill the giants; Gaia had not protected them from the weapons of mortals. All over the world, Gaia searched for an herb to protect the giants from the weapons of mortals, but Zeus ordered the dawn goddess Eos, the moon goddess Selena and the radiant sun god Helios not to shine, and he tore off the herb himself.

Not afraid of being killed by the hand of the gods, the giants threw themselves into battle. It lasted a long time. The giants sent huge rocks and burning trunks of ancient trees to the gods. The thunder of battle spread throughout the world.

Finally, Heracles appeared with Athena Paladas. The bowstring of Zeus’s son’s terrible bow rumbled, an arrow flashed, soaked in the poison of the Lerneian hydra, and struck the chest of the most powerful of the Titans, Alcyoneus. The giant fell to the ground. But he could not be defeated at Palena; here he was immortal – after falling to the ground, he rose after a while even stronger than before. Hercules quickly threw him on his shoulders and carried him away from Palena: outside its borders the giant died. After the death of Alcyoneus, Heracles and Hera were attacked by the giant Porphyry; he took off Hera’s cloak and was about to catch her, but Zeus knocked him to the ground with his lightning, and Heracles killed him with one of his arrows. Apollo pierced the left eye of the giant Ephialtes with one of his golden arrows, and Heracles killed him by hitting his right eye with his arrow. Dionysus with his sawdust overthrew the giant Eurytus, and Hephaestus overthrew the giant Clytius, throwing a huge piece of red-hot iron at him. Athena Paladas landed on the fleeing giant Enkelad, the whole island of Sicily.

And the giant Polybot threw himself into the sea to escape the pursuit of the terrible earthquake Poseidon, and fled to the island of Kos. Poseidon cut off part of the island of Kos with his trident and landed it on Polybot. This is how the island of Niziros was formed. Hermes defeated the giants Hippolytus, Artemis, Gration, the great moirs – the giants Agrius and Toon, who fought with copper maces. All the other giants were defeated by the thunderbolt Zeus with his shining lightning, and the great Heracles killed them with his infallible arrows.

Zeus (left in the middle) opposite Porphyry (right), detail from the Pergamon altar Gigantomachian frieze, Pergamum Museum in Berlin

Death of Hercules

When Heracles was sold as a slave to Omphala for the murder of Ifit, Deianira and her children had to leave Tiryns. Cake, the king of the Thessalian city of Trachina, gave refuge to Heracles’ wife. It had been three years and three months since Heracles had left Deianira. Heracles’ wife worried about her husband’s fate. She had no news from him. Deianira didn’t even know if her husband was still alive. Heavy premonitions tormented her. She called her son Hill and told him:

“Oh, dear son! It’s a shame not to look for your father. It’s been fifteen months since there’s been any news from him.”

“If the rumors are to be believed,” replied Hill to his mother, “it is said that after spending three years as a slave at Omphale, his father went with his army to the city of Oechalia on the island of Euboea for his slavery.” to avenge King Eurytus for his insult.

“Son!” , his mother interrupted. “Your father, Heracles, has never left me as anxious as last time when he went on great labors. He even left me a farewell sign with an old prophecy written on it in the town of Dodona. It says that if Heracles spent three years and three months abroad, he would either die or return home to live happily ever after. On his departure, Heracles also ordered me in case he died, which of the lands of his ancestors should be inherited by his children. I’m already worried about what happened to my husband. Because he was telling me about the siege of Oyhalia – that he would either perish near the city, or, taking it, he would live happily. Come on, son, go, please, and look for your father.”

Hill obeyed his mother and set off on a long journey to Oechalia, on the island of Euboea, to look for his father.

Some time after Hill left Trachina, a messenger ran to Deianira. He informed her that an envoy of Heracles, Lihas, would arrive at that moment. He will bring good news. Heracles is alive. He defeated Eurytus, conquered and destroyed the city of Oyhalia and will soon return to Trachina as a glorious victor. Immediately after the messenger he came to Deianira and Lihas. He leads captives and among them Eurytus’ daughter Yola. Deyanira happily welcomes Lihas. Hercules’ messenger tells her that Heracles is as strong and healthy as before. He is about to celebrate his victory and is preparing to make rich sacrifices before leaving Euboea. Deyanira examines the captives; Noticing the beautiful woman among them, she asks Lihas:

“Tell me, Lihas, who is this woman? Who are her father and mother? She is the saddest of all. Is she the daughter of the Eurytus himself?”

But Lihas replies to the wife of Heracles:

“I don’t know who she is, Queen. Probably this woman is of noble Euboean descent. She didn’t say a word all the way. Ever since she left her hometown, only tears of sorrow have flowed.”

“The unfortunate one!”, exclaimed Deianira. “I will not add any more suffering to this sorrow! Come on, Lihas, take the captives to the palace, I will come after you now.”

Lihas went with the captives to the palace. As soon as he came out, a servant approached Deianira and said:

“Wait, queen, listen to me. Lihas didn’t tell you the whole truth. He knows who this woman is; she is the daughter of Eurytus Yola. Because of his love for her, Heracles once competed with Eurytus in archery. The proud king did not give him, the conqueror, his daughter for a wife, as he had promised, but insulted the great hero and drove him out of the city. Because of Yola, Heracles now conquered Oechalia and killed the king Eurytus. Not as a slave sent here Jola’s son Zeus – he wants to marry her.”

She was saddened. She blames Lihas for hiding the truth from her. Lihas admits that Heracles, captivated by Yola’s beauty, really wants to marry her. She is saddened. Heracles forgot her during the long separation. Now he loves another. What should she do, poor thing? She loves the great son of Zeus and cannot give him to another. Grief-stricken, Deianira remembers the blood the centaur Ness had once given her and the words he had told her before she died. Deianira decides to resort to the blood of the centaur. And he had told her “Rub Heracles’ garment with my blood, and he will love you forever, no woman will be dearer to him than you.” She was afraid to resort to the magic tool, but her love for Heracles and her fear of losing him finally overcame her fears. She drew Ness’s blood, which she had kept in a vessel for so long that the sun’s rays would not fall on her, nor would the fire from the hearth warm her. Deianira rubs the gorgeous cloak she wove as a present for Hercules with her, puts it in a tightly closing box, calls Lihas, and tells him:

“Hurry, Lichas, to Euboea and bring this box to Heracles. There is a cloak in it. Let Heracles put on this cloak when he sacrifices to Zeus. Tell him that no mortal should put on the cloak before him, not even a ray of bright Helios touch the cloak before Heracles puts it on. Come on, hurry up, Lihas!”

Lihas left in his cloak. After he left, Deianira became alarmed. She returns to the palace and to her horror sees that the wave with which she rubbed the cloak with Ness’s blood has rotted. Deianira threw this wave on the floor. A ray of sunlight fell on the wave and warmed the centaur’s blood, which had been contaminated with the poison of the Lerneian Hydra. Along with the blood, the poison of the hydra heated up and turned the wool into ashes, and poisonous foam appeared on the floor where the wool had fallen. Deianira was horrified; she fears that Hercules will perish by putting on her poison cloak. A premonition of irreparable trouble torments Heracles’ wife more and more.

It wasn’t long before Lihas left for Euboea in the poison cloak. The returnee to Trachina Hill enters the palace. He is pale, his eyes are full of tears. Looking at his mother, he shouted:

“Oh, how I would like to see one of three things: either you are no longer alive, or someone else calls you mother and not me, or you are smarter than you are! Know that you lost your own husband, my father!”

“Oh, misfortune!”, Deianira shouted in horror. “What do you say, son? Which of the people told you that? How can you accuse me of such an evil deed!”

“I myself saw my father’s suffering. I didn’t learn about it from people!”

Hill tells his mother what happened on Mount Canyon, not far from the city of Oechalia: Heracles, having built an altar, was preparing to offer sacrifices to the gods and above all to his father, Zeus, when Lihas came with the cloak. The son of Zeus put on his cloak, a gift from his wife, and proceeded to sacrifice. He first sacrificed twelve bulls to Zeus, and the hero slaughtered a hundred victims in honor of the Olympian gods. The flame of the altars blazed brightly. Heracles stood with his hands raised reverently to heaven and invoked the gods. The strong fire that burned on the altars warmed Heracles’ body and sweat appeared on his body. Suddenly the poison cloak clung to the hero’s body. Spasms passed over Heracles’ body. He felt terrible pain. Suffering terribly, the hero called Lihas and asked him why he had brought him the cloak. What could the innocent Lihas answer him? He could only tell him that Deianira had sent the cloak over him. And Heracles, beside himself with terrible pain, grabbed Lihas by the leg and struck him on the rock, around which the sea waves roared. Lihas died immediately. Hercules fell to the ground. He tossed and turned in unspoken torment. His cries spread far and wide on the island of Euboea. Heracles cursed his marriage to Deianira. The great hero called his son and with a heavy moan told him:

“Oh, son, do not leave me in my misfortune; even if you are in danger of death, do not leave me! Pick me up! Get me out of here! Take me where no mortal will see me. Oh, if you feel compassion for me, don’t let me die here!”

Heracles was lifted, placed on a stretcher, and carried on a ship to be taken to Trachina.

This is what Hill told his mother, and he ended his story with the following words:

“Now you will see here the great son of Zeus, perhaps still alive, and perhaps already dead. Oh, let them punish you, mother, the stern Erinyes and the avenger Dicke. You have destroyed the best of the people who have ever inhabited the earth. You will never see such a hero!”

Silently, she returned to Deianira’s palace without saying a word. There, in the palace, she grabbed a double-edged sword. The old nanny saw that. She called Hill immediately. Hill hurried to his mother, but she had already pierced her chest with her sword. The unfortunate son rushed to his mother, crying aloud, hugged her and kissed her cold body.

At this time, the dying Heracles is brought to the palace. He had fallen asleep during the trip, but when they laid the stretcher on the ground in front of the palace entrance, he woke up. Due to the terrible pain, the great hero was not on his own.

“Oh, great Zeus!”, he exclaims. “Which country am I in? Oh, where are you, men of Greece? Help me! For your sake I have cleansed the land and the sea of monsters and evil, and now none of you wants to save me from the heavy sufferings with fire or a sharp sword! Oh, you, great Hades, brother of Zeus, put me to sleep, put me to sleep, the unfortunate one, with a quick death!”

“Father, listen to me, please,” Hill insists with tears in his eyes, “Mom committed this crime unintentionally. Why do you crave revenge? When she learned that she herself was the cause of your death, she pierced her heart with the blade of the sword!”

“Oh gods, she’s dead and I can’t take revenge on her! The insidious Deianira died not at my hands!”

“Father, it’s not her fault!”, says Hill. “When she saw Yola, Euryt’s daughter, in her house, her mother magically asked for her love to be regained. She rubbed the cloak with the blood of the centaur Ness killed by your arrow, unaware that the blood was contaminated with the poison of the Lerneian Hydra.”

“Oh, misfortune, misfortune!”, cried Heracles. “Here is my father’s prediction, Zeus! He had told me that I would not die at the hands of a living man, that I was destined to die by the treachery of someone who had descended into the dark realm of Hades. This is how Ness, who was defeated by me, destroyed me! Here is what peace the oracle in Dodona promised me – the peace of death! Yes, the dead really do not feel anxious! Then do my last will, Hill! Take me with my faithful friends to the tall Oeta, pile a funeral pyre on top of it, put me on it and set it on fire. Do it soon, put an end to my suffering!”

“Oh, have mercy, father, are you making me your killer?”, Hill begs his father.

“No, you will not be a murderer, but a healer of my suffering! I have another wish, fulfill it too!”, Hercules begs his son. “Marry Euryt’s daughter, Yola.””

But Hill refuses to comply with his father’s request and his word:

“No, father, I can’t marry the one who’s to blame for my mother’s death!”

“Oh, obey my will, Hille! Don’t blow up my soothed suffering again! Let me die in peace!”, Hercules begs his son insistently.

Hill resigned himself and obediently replied to his father:

“All right, father, I will obey your dying will.”

Hercules invites his son, asking him to fulfill his last wish.

“Don’t delay, son! Hurry to put me on the stake before this unbearable torment begins again! Carry me! Farewell, Hille!”

Hercules’ friends and Hill picked up the stretcher and carried Hercules to the tall Oeta. There they piled up a huge stake and placed the greatest of the heroes on it. Hercules’ sufferings became stronger. The venom of the Lerneian hydra penetrated deeper and deeper into his body. Hercules wants to take off his poison cloak, but it is close to his body; together with the cloak, Heracles tore short pieces of skin and his terrible torments became even more unbearable. There is only one salvation from these inhuman torments – death. It is easier for him to perish in the flames of the stake than to endure this torment; but none of the hero’s friends dare to set fire to the stake. Finally comes Oeta Philoctetes; Heracles persuaded him to set fire to the stake, and as a reward gave him his bow and arrows infected with the poison of the hydra. Philoctetes set fire to the stake, its flame blazed brightly, but the lightning of Zeus shone even brighter. Thunder swept across the sky. In a golden chariot, Athena Paladas and Hermes flew to the stake and carried the greatest of the heroes, Heracles, up to the bright Olympus. There he was met by the great gods. Heracles became an immortal god. Hera herself forgot her hatred and gave Heracles her daughter, the eternally young goddess Heba, as his wife. Since then, Heracles has lived on the bright Olympus among the great immortal gods. This was his reward for all his great deeds on earth, for all his great sufferings.

According to the anthology of A. Kuhn

Death of Hercules
“Death of Hercules”, (1634) by Francisco de Zurbarán