The Labours of Herakles (Hercules) - Part 2, beyond the Greek world

For background and a brief description of the first six of the Twelve Labours of Herakles, see 'Part 1, in the Peloponnese'.

The second six labours of Herakles began on the island of Crete where he tackled the ferocious Cretan bull. The hero later released the bull, which was eventually killed by Theseus at Marathon. Herakles then brought the man-eating horses of Diomedes back to Greece from Thrace, having first fed them their brutal master. A fierce battle against the Amazons was fought before Herakles captured their queen's girdle for Eurystheus.

The last three labours were set even further afield. In the far west, on the edge of the ocean, Herakles fought the triple-bodied warrior Geryon and stole his cattle. In Hades he captured Cerberus, the dog who guarded the entrance to the Underworld, though he returned the creature after showing him to Eurystheus. Finally, Herakles journeyed to a garden at the end of the earth to take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides. These, the source of the gods' eternal youth, had been a wedding present from Gaia, the Earth, to Zeus and Hera. The apples symbolized immortality, and this final labour meant that eventually Herakles would ascend to Olympos and take his place among the gods.

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