For 11 years Heracles had travelled the Mediterranean completing 11 horrifying labours to clean him of his sins, it was now time for the 12th labour and Heracles stood in the palace of King Eurystheus and received the most terrible of all the labours. King Eurystheus was at the end of his tether, he wanted Heracles dead and Heracles had survived every single task so far. There was only 1 solution, to send Heracles somewhere where only the dead could go, to the underworld to capture the dreaded three headed hell hound Cerberus.
Heracles made his way to Athens to find the entrance to the underworld, not really knowing how he would complete the task, on arrival Heracles was surprised to find Hermes and Athena waiting for him. Hermes and Athena both agreed that Heracles had been tricked into sinning by Hera (see the first task for the full story) and offered to guide Heracles into the underworld.
As the trio entered the underworld they slowly descended deep into the earth to find the beast Cerberus, on the way they met many doomed souls along with a few other heroes including Theseus who had been captured by the god of the underworld Hades (more about Theseus in a future post). Eventually they reached the great halls of Hades where Heracles was granted an audience with the god of the underworld. Hades luckily also hated Hera and agreed to allow Heracles to take Cerberus on condition he did it bare handed.
In a dramatic fight Heracles slowly tired the beast and eventually subdued it, leading the drooling and snarling monster to the surface by a massive chain. On arrival at the palace King Eurystheus was so scared he promised to release Heracles of any future labours if he would release Cerberus back to the underworld which Heracles did.
Heracles lived to have many more adventures but his famous 12 labours had made him a true hero and a celebrity all across the world. Next week I am moving away from Greece for a while to visit some other myths and legends but we will be back to see more Greek adventures soon.