Further Resources: The Labors of Hercules

  • Read the story of how Hercules came to serve Eurystheus, as told by Apollodorus, the ancient writer who collected legends in his mythology handbook, the Library.
  • The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was decorated with sculptures illustrating the Labors of Hercules. Look at the sculpture catalog entry which gives an overview of the metopes.
  • What is a metope?
  • We know for sure that the metopes from the temple show the Labors of Herakles, not only because they look like the Labors, but also because the ancient travel writer Pausanias wrote about them.
  • Mycenae, one of the cities where Eurystheus ruled, was a hilltop fortress and palace which was one of the greatest centers of the Late Helladic period (ca. 1550-1050 B.C.). See Mycenae from the air.
  • What was Apollo's oracle?
  • The playwright Euripides wrote about the Labors in his play, Herakles. Read the opening scene, where Hercules' father, Amphitryon, describes how his son left Thebes for Argolis, the region of Mycenae and Tiryns, to serve Eurystheus.
  • The ancient Greeks loved the stories of the Labors. They were some of the most popular subjects painted on Greek vases. Look at catalog entries for over 150 Perseus vases which depict Hercules.
  • Pathos -- literally "what happens to a person" -- lay at the center of the Greek conception of Hercules. The fifth century philosopher Prodicus represented Hercules as the hero who chose the life of toil and virtue and as the prototype for the true philosophical life. Look up pathos in the Greek-English dictionary, and follow links to the plays of Euripides which mention this concept (once you get to a text, you can change the display from Greek to the English translation).
  • Find out more about Hercules' life, including his problems with Hera, by reading his biography.

Go back to the Labors page.

This exhibit is a subset of materials from the Perseus Project digital library and is copyrighted. Please send us your comments.