The 12 Digital Labors of Hercules

For my final project, I have decided to focus on Hercules. This is not the Disney Hercules of your childhood (although I love Rip Torn as Zeus), nor of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys fame. I’m talking about the REAL Hercules. That is Heracles, or Alcides if you will, son of Zeus and Alcmene via circumstances that were less than consensual, because when is consent ever given in Greek mythology?

Hercules was a badass. He strangled snakes as a baby that Hera sent to kill him.

That's right. A baby badass.

That’s right. A baby badass.

He killed his music teacher. He killed… okay he killed a lot of people. He was kind of a mass murderer, but for some reason was glorified in myth and has become a symbol of strength and virility.

We can guess that this was primarily due to the fact that when given a choice between a happy, easy life, or a difficult life that would lead to glory, guess which one he chose?

That’s right, he chose to not be happy.

So this choice to lead a difficult but glorious life resulted in a lot of misery. A lot of struggle. Most of it instigated by Hera. She really hated Hercules and created a lot of unpleasant situations for him.

The most famous of these struggles was Hercules’ 12 Labors (fyi the Perseus digital library version of the myth is a tad bowdlerized, but it’s more detailed than Encyclopedia Mythica or MythWeb; surprisingly the Wikipedia article is probably the most faithful to the source texts). The story goes that Hera drove Hercules temporarily insane, and in a fit of madness he killed his two/three/six children from his marriage with Megara, the first of four wives. Upon regaining his sanity he learned what he had done and gave Megara to his half-nephew/lover/charioteer Iolaus (they left that part out of the TV show). And then he sought purification and atonement.

The Oracle of Delphi commanded Hercules to serve King Eurystheus for twelve years to atone for the murders. Eurystheus was in collusion with Hera and set Hercules twelve impossible tasks. And Hercules completed each one. Because he was a badass. And because he was a demigod. But mostly the badass thing.

So, how am I going to translate the epic and glorious and miserable life story of Hercules into a DS 106 final? Simple:

  • Design: An “origin story” cartoon strip. There will be snakes involved.
  • Web: Hercules’ Twitter feed while completing the 12 Labors.
  • Web: An Amazon page for Hippolyta’s girdle.
  • Video: An Entertainment Tonight or possibly 20/20 special on the scandal of Hercules’ period of serving as Omphale’s slave during which she made him dress as a woman. Barbara Walters may be doing the interview. Maybe. We’ll see. Also, Matt Damon may have a cameo, because I really enjoyed working with that footage.
  • Visual: A Newsweek cover for a special issue on the death of Hercules.

These are tentative. Maybe I will get a brilliant idea for something completely different for one or more of these within the next week or so. But I really do want to play with the Matt Damon footage again…

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