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Hades & Herakles
HIS LABOURS, HIS DEATH, HIS APOTHESIS
The Final Days of Heracles
A passage from The Frogs
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.
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?
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