Then Theseus was King of Athens, and he guarded it and ruled it well, and many wise things he did, so that his people honored him after he was dead, for many a hundred years, as the father of their freedom and of their laws.
ADAPTED BY THOMAS CARTWRIGHT
THE TWELVE LABORS OF HERCULES
Hercules, the hero of strength and courage, was the son of Jupiter and Alcmene. His life was one long series of wonders.
As soon as he was born, Juno, who hated Alcmene with an exceeding great hatred, went to the Fates and begged them to make the life of the newly-born babe hard and perilous.
The Fates were three, namely, Clotho who spun the thread of life, Lachesis who settled the lot of gods and mortals in life, and Atropos who cut the thread of life spun by Clotho.
When once the Fates had decided what the lot of any being, whether god or man, was to be, Jupiter himself could not alter their decision.
It was to these fateful three, then, that Juno made her prayer concerning the infant Hercules. She could not, however, prevent him from having an honorable career, since it was written that he should triumph over all dangers and difficulties that might beset him.
All that was conceded to her was that Hercules should be put under the dominion of Eurystheus, King of Thebes, his eldest brother, a harsh and pitiless man. This only half satisfied the hatred of Juno, but it made the life of Hercules exceedingly bitter.
In fact, Hercules was but a child, when Juno sent two enormous serpents against him. These serpents, gliding into his cradle, were on the point of biting the child when he, with his own hands, seized them and strangled the life out of their slimy bodies.
Having grown up to man’s estate, Hercules did many mighty deeds of valor that need not be recounted here. But the hatred of Juno always pursued him. At length, when he had been married several years, she made him mad and impelled him in his madness to kill his own beloved children!
When he came again to his sober senses, and learnt that he was the murderer of his own offspring he was filled with horror, and betook himself into exile so that he might hide his face from his fellow men. After a time he went to the oracle at Delphi to ask what he should do in atonement for his dreadful deed.
He was ordered to serve his brother Eurystheus—who, by the help of Juno, had robbed him of his kingdom—for twelve years. After this he was to become one of the Immortals. Eurystheus feared that Hercules might use his great strength and courage against him, in punishment for the evil that he had done. He therefore resolved to banish him and to impose such tasks upon him as must certainly bring about his destruction. Hence arose the famous twelve labors of Hercules.