The quest for the Golden Apples was the eleventh labour of Hercules set by Eurystheus. The golden apples belonged to Zeus, king of the gods and had been given by Hera as a wedding gift.
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Garden Of The Hesperides - Mythology and Folklore - The White Goddess

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Sunday, 21 October 2018

Garden Of The Hesperides

Garden Of The Hesperides

Garden Of The Hesperides

The Eleventh Labour Of Hercules. The Golden Apples and the Garden Of The Hesperides.

The quest for the Golden Apples was the eleventh labour of Hercules set by Eurystheus. The golden apples belonged to Zeus, king of the gods and had been given by Hera as a wedding gift.

The Golden Apples were kept in a garden at the northern edge of the world, and were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon, named Ladon. The Garden was also the abode of the Hesperides, nymphs who were daughters of Atlas, the titan who held the sky and the earth upon his shoulders.

The first task in the quest was to find the location of the Garden. After journeying through many lands Hercules arrived in Illyria, where he seized the sea-god Nereus, who knew the garden's secret location. Once he had the location, he continued, beset with dangers, Hercules was stopped by Antaeus, the son of the sea god, Poseidon, who also challenged Hercules to fight. Later, Hercules was captured by Busiris, another of Poseidon's sons, and was led to an altar to be a human sacrifice. But Hercules escaped, killing Busiris, and continued his journey.

Eventually he came to the rock on Mount Caucasus where Prometheus was chained. Prometheus, who had stolen the secret of fire from the Gods, was sentenced by Zeus to a horrible fate. He was bound to the mountain, and every day a monstrous eagle came and ate his liver, at night, Prometheus' liver grew back, and the next day he had to endure the eagle's painful visit all over again. Hercules slew the eagle and in gratitude, Prometheus told Hercules the secret to getting the apples. He would have to send Atlas after them, instead of going himself.

Atlas hated holding up the sky and the earth so much so, that he agreed to the task of fetching the apples, if Hercules would carry the burden of the world. On returning with the golden apples, Atlas told Hercules he would take them to Eurystheus himself, and asked Hercules to stay there and hold the heavy load for the rest of time.

Hercules slyly agreed, but asked Atlas whether he could take it back again, just for a moment, while he put some soft padding on his shoulders to help him bear the weight of the sky and the earth. Atlas put the apples on the ground, and lifted the burden onto his own shoulders. In doing so, he allowed Hercules to retrieve the Apples, make good his escape and carry them back to Eurystheus.

Because the Apples belonged to the gods, they could not remain with Eurystheus and so he had to return them to Athena, who took them back to the garden at the northern edge of the world.  

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