How many foes do Hercules and the characters from Percy Jackson and the Olympians share?
Hercules - credits: grunge.com
Hercules (Greek name “Herakles”) was born the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmene, making him a demigod like Percy Jackson and most of his friends. Even as a child he was known for his immense strength. Because Hercules was an illegitimate son of Zeus outside of his marriage with Hera, the goddess immediately hated him. She even sent serpents to kill him in his cradle, but he strangled them. (She does something similar to Leo Valdez when he is a child, but says it’s to test his strength.)
The Madness of Hercules and the Twelve Labors
Statue of Hercules - credits: pixabay.com
Eventually, Hercules marries a woman named Megara and has many children. This angers Hera, so she strikes Hercules with a fit of madness which causes him to kill his children (and in some versions his wife). Hercules is distraught by his actions after he regains his senses. To atone for his sins, Hercules pledges himself to serve his cousin Eurystheus and complete any action Eurystheus asks of him. Eurystheus devises twelve seemingly impossible tasks to give Hercules in hopes that he will be killed since Eurystheus is worried Hercules will overthrow his kingdom.
The Nemean Lion
Hercules defeating the Nemean Lion - credits: Lucian Milasan/Shutterstock.com
Hercules’ first labor is to slay the Nemean lion. Because of his immense strength, Hercules is able to strangle the beast with his bare hands. He then skins it and wears its skin.
Percy slays the Nemean lion as well in The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson book 3) at the Smithsonian museum by throwing nasty astronaut food down the lion’s throat. This causes it to open its mouth wide and Zoe Nightshade was able to shoot an arrow down its throat. Percy wears the skin as well until he gives it as an offering to Poseidon.
The Lernean Hydra
Hercules killing the Lernean Hydra - credits: commons.wikimedia.org
Hercules slays this nine-headed monster with the help of his nephew, Iolaus, who cauterized each head stump after Hercules chopped the head off, preventing more heads from growing in its place.
In The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson book 2), Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson battle a Hydra that Tyson accidentally summoned along with a “Monster Donut” chain donut restaurant. The restaurants are tied to the life force of hydras; every time a hydra’s head is chopped off a new restaurant appears somewhere in the United States. They are saved by Clarisse La Rue, a fellow half-blood, who kills the hydra with cannon fire from her warship.
The Ceryneian Hind
Hercules killing the Ceryneian hind - credits: sciencephoto.com
Hercules chased this elusive female deer for a year through various lands to complete his third labor. There are different versions of how he finally managed to capture it. Most say he shot it with an arrow but did not fatally wound it, only to find he angered the goddess Artemis because it is her sacred animal. However, Artemis agrees to let Hercules take the hind back to Eurystheus after hearing his story.
The Erymanthian Boar
Hercules killing the Erymanthian boar - credits: europeanmint.com
Hercules captures this giant boar by luring it into thick snow, a strategy given by the centaur Chiron, the same one who appears often in the Percy Jackson series.
In The Titan’s Curse, Percy and his four companions encounter the boar. Grover is convinced it is a gift from Pan, the god of the wild. Percy gets it to chase him into a snowbank, similar to Hercules, so they can ride it.
The Stables of Augeas
The stables of Augeas - credits: greek-myth.fandom.com
For his fifth labor, Hercules cleanses the huge cattle stables of King Augeas in a single day by rerouting two rivers to flow through the stables and clean them completely.