Hercules is mostly known for the Twelve Labors, which the movie out this weekend seems to largely focus on. But Hercules did a lot of stuff that was way more awesome than killing some poor lion or being a Grecian cattle rustler. Here are the far more awesome side jobs of Herc that belong in a movie.
Bumping Off A Serial Killer Who Breathed Fire
When you’re a demigod, you’re kind of a douchebag, as Hercules himself demonstrates on more than one occasion. But Cacus, son of Vulcan, took it to a particular extreme. He had an absolutely delightful habit of killing people, eating them and then nailing their heads to the door of his cave. He got away with this mostly because he was a fire-breathing giant.
Hercules probably would have left him to terrorize the countryside, too, except Cacus made a serious mistake in stealing some of Hercules’ cattle. Hercules, thoroughly pissed off, dug through a mountain, found Cacus in his cave, and after pounding him with rocks, strangled him. Don’t touch Herc’s cows, dammit.
Murdering Alcoholic Centaurs
This technically happened during one of the labors, but it’s far funnier than Hercules killing a wild pig. Pholus, a centaur, runs across Hercules as he’s searching for the Erymanthian boar, and being a good host, pops open the good wine.
The smell gets in the nose of the other centaurs, and they immediately attack the cave, because, you know, good wine was hard to find back in the day. Herc’s response, being a rational person who respects all life, is to spray them with burning embers, and when that doesn’t work, he just whips out his arrows and kills them all. If you’re getting the sense that maybe Herc is into disproportionate retribution, keep reading.
Maiming A River God
Hercules was married twice, the second time to Deianeira, who was such a klutz she actually killed him. But, before all that, she was being courted by Achelous, the god of the river with the same name. Deianeria, not being completely stupid, knew how marrying gods generally worked out for mortals, and it didn’t help that he had the lower body of a snake and giant horns sticking out of his head. So Hercules showing up to wrestle for her hand in marriage was something of a relief.
Hercules solved the problem his usual way: By ripping one of Achelous’ horns off. That became a cornucopia and, for some reason, kept Achelous from flooding the rivers constantly. Hercules is widely celebrated for this, despite the fact he mostly did this to get laid.
Rules Lawyering A Giant To Death
Hercules was, among other things, essentially an assassin of the gods, and while he has a reputation for being something of a blunt instrument, he could also be scarily crafty. Like, for example, how he dealt with Alcyoneus, a giant who was immortal within the boundaries of Pallene.
Herc’s response? Shoot him with a poison arrow, drag him outside of Pallene, and go all LAPD on Alcyoneus’ now-mortal ass. Then he went on to kill six more giants, mostly because he thought it’d be fun.
Punching Death In The Face To Save His Friend’s Wife
Admetus and Alcestis were as loving as a marriage got, for the Greeks. You might notice there’s a lot of ambivalence towards marriage in the Hercules myth. But Alcestis was decidedly one of the toughest women in mythology. Her husband worked out a method of cheating death if someone else would take his place, but after there were no volunteers, Alcestis stepped forward.
Herc, grateful for the wine and food Admetus offered him, repaid the favor by waitng for Thanatos at Alcestis’ bedchamber, and then beating him senseless.
Yes, Hercules punched death in the face, and instead we talk about him shoveling out the turds in a stable. Hey, Ratner, maybe in the new movie, go with this story instead.