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Hades & Herakles

Apollodorus: HERCULES,
HIS LABOURS, HIS DEATH, HIS APOTHESIS

The Final Days of Heracles

A passage from The Frogs

DEATH

Conflict Resolution

Herakles' death resolved the major conflicts of his life--the one with Hera and the condition of being half mortal.
Hebe, Herakles' half sister through Zeus, was Hera's daughter. By Herakles' marrying into Hera's side of the family, all strife between the queen of the gods and her namesake miraculously ended.

Immortality Status

I don't how easily this point could be made, but I suspect that most of Zeus's children (born to him in human or lightning form), even though they were only half immortal, did not have to die. Granted, there were extenuating circumstances in the cases we hear about--Dionysus actually springing from his father's leg and Herakles drinking Hera's immortal milk, but it makes me wonder when Thetis, the immortal wife of Myrmidon king, Peleus, gave birth to mortal Achilles who was vulnerable only on his heel. His condition of probational immortality was the gift of the River Styx into which his mother had dipped him. It didn't come through his mother's lineage, but shouldn't the king of the gods be enough proof against death?

Herakles' Ascension

Death did not come naturally or easily to Herakles-- small surprise considering he'd successfully fought with Hades. In some accounts Herakles acted as an aid to Death by shepherding dead bodies to the River Styx. Herakles had to beg to be allowed to die when the garment poisoned by the centaur's blood burned him. Only by dying did he become completely immortal--since the Underworld could not confine him.

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1997 N.S. Gill

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