Heracles vs Hercules: The Same Hero in Two Different Mythologies

Heracles vs hercules everything you need to knowHeracles vs Hercules is a debate that has been very popular among the Greeks and the Romans. The reason for this debate is that both characters are famous in their respective mythologies as they are demigods born to the most famous gods, have an extremely attractive physique, and share a very similar name. In reality, Heracles was a Greek hero that was absorbed into the Roman culture over time and was named Hercules. 

Here in this article, we bring you all the information on the characters, their life, their death, and how exactly the Greek hero became a Roman hero.

Heracles vs Hercules Comparison Table

FeaturesHeraclesHercules
OriginGreekRoman
ParentsZeus and AlcmeneJupiter and Alcmene
SiblingsAphrodite, Ares, Apollo, etcAphrodite, Ares, Apollo, etc
ConsortMegara, Omphale, Hebe, DeianiraJuventus
ChildrenHyllus, Telephus, Alexiares and Anicetus, TlepolemusMultiple
PowersHeroic StrengthHeroic Strength
Type of CreatureDemigodDemigod
MeaningHaving the glory of HeraHero with great strength
AppearanceCurly red hair with strong jawlineCurly red hair with strong jawline
Major Myth12 Labors12 Labors

What Are the Differences Between Heracles vs Hercules?

The main difference between Heracles and Hercules is that they belong to two different mythologies. Heracles is a Greek demigod and the son of Zeus whereas Hercules is a Roman demigod and the son of Jupiter. However, most of the other features are common to both of them.

What Is Heracles Best Known For?

Heracles is best known for his strength and heroism. He is always seen as the demi-god with the perfect posture who is brave in Greek mythology. On the other hand, he is also best known for the 12 labors he accomplished.

Heracles Family

In addition to heroism and strength, Heracles is best known for his connection to Zeus, his relation to Hera, the Greek goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth, and his attractive physique. He is also known because of his famous siblings on Mount Olympus.

Heracles was one of those demigods that were famous both on Earth and among the gods and goddesses.

Heracles Identity in Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Heracles was a demigod born to Zeus and Alcmene. Zeus was the famous Olympian god who won the throne by killing his Titan father, Cronus. This ascension of the throne was the result of the infamous war known as Titanomachy. Alcmene on the other hand was a normal human and had no godly powers except for her exceptional beauty which allured Zeus unknowingly.

Heracles had many siblings that were very famous. Some of them were demigods like him and the others were proper gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. As Heracles was a demigod, he did not have any exceptional nature-related powers but had incredible strength. While the rest of his siblings like Aphrodite was the goddess of love, lust, and beauty, Apollo was the god of archery, music, and dance, and Persephone was the goddess of the Underworld.

Even though the powers of Heracles were limited, he still managed to make his mark on the Olympians. Overall, everyone knew who he was the reason was that he was a son of Zeus but because of his god-like strength, exceptionally attractive physique, and his 12 labors. The works of Homer and Hesiod describe the story of Heracles.

Physical Features

Heracles looked like the strongest individual among the men. The popularity of his strength and valor was heard on Mount Olympus and also among men. He was of a not-so-tall height with a great build. He had luscious and curly red hair. Moreover, as he was a demigod, he had the beauty of his mother, a human, and the strength of his father, a god.

In some places, Heracles is also portrayed wearing a band on his head. The rest of his clothing was very similar to the elite-class people of the time as Alcmene came from a rich family. Due to his looks, he was known to be in many relationships with women and men.

Connection Between Heracles and Hera

Hera was the stepmother of Heracles but not by choice. Zeus had uncountable extramarital relations and birthed many demigods on the way among which Heracles was one. When Zeus impregnated Alcmene, he was remorseful of his act of infidelity toward Hera, his sister, and his wife. He wanted to make things right.

This is the reason that he named the boy Heracles, which stemmed from Hera. This newly found wisdom and hope to make things right was however very short-lived and not long before, Zeus was on his infidel path again.

Most Famous Legend of Heracles

The most famous legend of Heracles is his 12 labors. Heracles was a demigod which means he was a mortal. Zeus wanted to make him immortal so Hera gave him the task of executing 12 tasks that also included killing some vicious creatures. If Heracles would be able to do all 12 of them, he would be granted immortality. Overall, the 12 tasks were:

  • Slay the Nemean Lion
  • Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra
  • Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis
  • Capture the Erymanthian Boar
  • Cleaning the Augean stables in one full day
  • Slay the Stymphalian Birds
  • Capture the Cretan Bull
  • Steal the Mares of Diomedes
  • Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons
  • Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon
  • Steal the golden apples of the Hesperides
  • Capture and bring back Cerberus

Heracles managed to do each task with great accuracy, confidence, and perfection.

Heracles Death in Greek Mythology

According to the most famous myth about the demigod, Heracles died by his own poisoned arrow. He shot this arrow to kill a centaur that had kidnapped his wife, Deianira. While he was fleeing, Heracles took his arrow which was dipped in the poisonous blood of the Lernaean Hydra. While the centaur did get hit, he managed to escape while taking Deianira with him.

Years later Deianira found out that Heracles is having an affair with another woman. To take her revenge, Deianira gave Heracles a shirt that was stained with poisoned blood. Heracles realized what had happened so he build his own funeral fire and died there. After his death, Athena carried him on the chariot to Mount Olympus.

What Is Hercules Best Known For?

Hercules is best known for his various conquests against different creatures, being the son of Zeus, and for his posture and attractive masculine features. Most important thing about Hercules, which not all people know about is that he was actually a Greek hero which was absorbed into Roman mythology.

Hercules Identity in Roman Mythology

Hercules is a demigod in Roman mythology. He was born out of wedlock to Jupiter and Alcmene. We all know the prime importance of Jupiter in Roman mythology as he is the god of the gods. His Greek counterpart is Zeus.

Alcmene was just a common human being on Earth with exceptional beauty which is why Jupiter was very attracted to her. Alcmene bore Hercules and kept him on Earth. With time, Hercules’ god-like abilities started to show and it became clear that he was in fact a demigod. He had exceptional strength, and valor, and was never lost in a fight.

However, it is key to know that Roman mythology does not explain the relationship between Hercules and any of his siblings. The main focus is on Hercules and his looks. If we are to consider his siblings they would be gods, goddesses, and demigods born to Jupiter on Mount Olympus and on Earth.

Physical Features

Hercules looked like the most handsome demigod that Roman mythology had ever seen. Among many of Hercules’ features, his looks were the most famous, and rightfully so. He was a normal height man with a muscular build and curly red hair. To keep his hair in place, he wore a band on his forehead that became symbolic.

Historians explain that the reason that Hercules rose to fame among the Romans is that he was portrayed to have all the qualities of a perfect-looking man. Surely he had his strength and fighting abilities too but the way he looked gained him all the attraction and popularity in the mythology.

Hercules was very attractive and this became the reason for his many affairs with both men and women both on Mount Olympus and Earth. Therefore he has a lot of children but the mythology does not name them and neither do they play an important role in the mythology.

Worshippers of Hercules?

In Roman mythology and its later implications, many women and men worshipped Hercules as their true god. He was worshipped among women because of his looks and among men because of his strength. Many local festivals and parties also honor Hercules. However, no evidence of sacrificial worship to Hercules is recorded in Roman mythology.

In Rome today, many signs of Hercules can be seen. There are roads, buildings, and educational programs named after the Roman hero.

Death of Hercules in Roman Mythology

There is no information on how Hercules died in Roman mythology as he was a character taken from Greek mythology. The heroic lifestyle of Hercules is surely explained in volumes but nothing is clearly mentioned about his death. We know how he died in Greek mythology and so we can assume that both the heroes had the same fate.

However, we can be sure that he was taken to Mount Olympus to live with the other gods and goddesses for eternity. As this is the fate of most of the gods and goddesses in Roman mythology.

FAQ

Who Is the Egyptian Counterpart of Hercules/Heracles?

The Egyptian counterpart of Hercules/Heracles was Horus. Horus was one of the key famous gods in Egyptian mythology. He was a falcon-headed god and the son of Osiris and Isis. He was the god of war and the sky.

Do Zeus and Hera Have Any Children Together?

Surprisingly, Zeus and Hera have three children together. Zeus was a known infidel in their relationship and fathered many gods, goddesses, and demigods all around the world. However, he did have three legitimate children with Hera, his sister, and his wife. The children were Ares who was the god of war, Hebe, the perpetually youthful beauty, and Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth.

Does Mount Olympus Exist in Roman Mythology?

Yes, Mount Olympus exists in Roman mythology and in Greek mythology. Both mythologies associate the mountain with the living place of their 12 gods and goddesses. Mount Olympus is therefore the throne of Jupiter in Roman mythology and the throne of Zeus in Greek mythology.

Conclusion

Heracles vs hercules what are the differences

Here we come to the end of the article. As explained above, Heracles vs Hercules is a mere difference in spellings for the same person in two different mythologies. Greek mythology is a wide series of various characters and creatures. It is so popular because of how versatile and gripping the storylines are. Originally, Heracles came first and was a famous demigod born to Zeus and Alcmene. Hesiod and Homer explain his character well in their works.

During the 15th century, the Romans adopted Heracles into their mythology and renamed him, Hercules, while keeping most of his original features intact. This is why there is not much difference between the two heroes. Surely Heracles and Hercules are very famous in their respective mythologies and will be an integral part of the stories.

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