It was clear from an early age that Heracles was a special kid. When he was a baby, Hera sent two serpents to kill him, but Heracles killed the serpents. His twin, Iphicles, just cried like a normal baby. This red figure stamnos, Louvre G192, dates to about 480 BCE.


"The Origin of the Milky Way," Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-94)

Zeus tried to make Heracles and Hera get along, but when baby Heracles bit Hera while nursing at her breast, she flung him aside and her enmity was assured. It also created the Milky Way.

The first of Heracles' labors was killing the Nemean lion. Below is an Attic black figure neck amphora, 510-500 BCE, Mississippi 1977.3.62. Athena is on the left; Hermes is on the right.



Heracles borrowed the Cup of Helios to sail to Geryon's island in the far west. This is represented in this Attic red figure cup, c. 480 BCE, in the Vatican. Note the octopi.


Above is an amphora in the British Museum from about 530 BCE. It depicts Heracles bringing down the Stymphalian birds, apparently using a slingshot.

Heracles had to bring a number of animals to his cousin, Eurystheus. This black figure hydria from c. 530 BCE depicts Heracles bringing Cerberus, the three-headed dog from the Underworld, to Eurystheus.