“Herakles” translates to “the glory of Hera”, an ironic name indeed for the hero who came to be known as Hercules, since the Queen of Olympus does everything in her power to ruin his life. As Hercules relates it in Odds Bodkin’s live story performance HERCULES IN HELL, when Hera hears that Zeus, her philandering husband, has fathered yet another child with a mortal woman, her jealousy knows no bounds. She conceives an animus for Hercules that will last his entire lifetime.
During her first attempt at his murder, when he’s an infant, she sends two serpents to bite him in his cradle, but instead, just by playing with them, the young demigod strangles them.
None too pleased, but biding her time, Hera waits until Hercules is married with a young family; he’s a prince on his way to becoming king. She then sends what Hercules calls “a storm of blood”, a madness that tears out his senses and plunges him into hallucinations. Attacking him from all sides come monsters, lions, centaurs and enemies, and so in his survival rage he fights back, destroying them all.
It’s only after the madness passes that he finds his wife and children dead at his feet. Their blood is on his hands. He can’t remember doing it. Always too strong, he has now murdered those he loves most. Drowning in guilt and unaware that Hera sent the madness, Hercules fears the insanity will return, and so he flees to the wilderness to live on squirrels and berries, filthy in his solitude.
Still, no matter where he is, the guilt eats at his soul. He cannot sleep. His dead family appears in his dreams every night. Finally, he journeys to the Oracle of Delphi and learns of his unwelcome fate. Zeus and the Fates have decreed that until he completes Labors for the King of Mycenae, Hercules will never be free of his guilt.
And so he journeys to the Court of King Eurystheus of Mycenae, puts himself under the thumb of his weak cousin, and his Labors begin.
Initially, Zeus and the Fates decreed ten labors, but because Eurystheus finds reasons to deny two of them, they end up twelve.
Join Odds Bodkin via Zoom on Sunday, Oct 18 at 5 pm EST for his epic telling of the life story of Hercules. The camera is up close and the sound and video are HD, so you can watch the instrumental work on 12-string guitar as a master storyteller enacts his characters.
A solid and entertaining lesson in epic Greek mythology, one you’ll never forget. Not recommended for children under 12.