The Apples of the Hesperides

Hercules shows not only tremendous physical powers, but also cleverness

A big problem

The eleventh Labor Eurystheus ordered Hercules to do, was one he1990.14.0209.jpg was
certain, Hercules could not complete. He had to fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides, and since these had been a wedding gift from Hera to Zeus, it would be extremely hard for Hercules to steal these apples from the one who, hated him the most. That was Hera. Watching over the apples was a huge snake with a hundred heads, called Ladon. It never slept, and was a cruel protector and punisher to all that came near. Apart from this, no mortal man knew where the garden with the apples in it was, which also was a big problem. And if that wasn’t enough, the three daughters of the Titan Atlas, also known as the Hesperides, were keeping these apples safe from harm and danger.

"My dear Atlas" - tricking the Titan

But first things first, and Hercules needed to find the garden, before he could move on with the Labor. He wandered through many countries to find the enchanted garden, but without luck. At last, he met Nereus, an ancient water-myth. He found him, and though he tried to get away, Hercules held him tight, and made him tell where the garden was. “On the edge of the Atlasmountains, at the northern edge of the world, you will find the garden” Nereus said. And so Hercules continued his travel, but there was a big problem in the way. Hercules could not pluck the apples himself.

So he went to Atlas, father of the Hesperides, and asked him if not he would get the apples for him. Atlas agreed, as long as Hercules would hold the globe, that Atlas was consented to hold the rest of his life, while he got them. And so Atlas took of to get the apples, and successfully returned with the precious fruit. But instead of taking the globe back, Atlas had gotten a taste for this new acquired freedom. And Hercules was doing a good job holding the globe anyway, so Atlas saw no reason to take it back on his shoulders. But when Hercules realized he had been tricked, he made up a lie that turned out to save him. “My dear Atlas, the globe is cutting my back caused by the heavy weight! Could you please hold the globe a little while I get a pillow to put on my shoulders?” And as Atlas saw no harm in such simple a request, he took the globe back, for what he thought would be a minute. But it turned out to be a lifetime. Cause as soon as he had the globe on his back, Hercules took the apples, and ran as fast as he could! He made it back to king Eurystheus, who was so frightened, that he did not speak for three days. “You better make sure the apples come back to the Hesperides, before Hera finds out they are gone,” Hercules said to the king. And so he delivered the apples, and set Hercules out on his final Labor. To capture Cerberus…

- Lucas and Anna