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(515 words)

[German Version]

Heracles, Lat. Hercules, a demigod (divine-human; son-god), the son of a mortal mother (Alcmene) and of two fathers, the god Zeus and the mortal man Amphitryon. Heracles emerges victorious from a series of struggles for the purification of the earth and the salvation of the human race (canonically known as the “Twelve Labors,” Gk ἄθλοι/áthloi, Lat. labores). His apotheosis is interpreted as the reward for his exploits. The threshold between human and divine existence is marked by suffering (madness, immolation). The ambivalence of divine…

Cite this page
Haase, Mareile, “Heracles”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 27 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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