Behind the Book: Hercules’s Seventh Labor

I’ve got a wild week ahead of me with Saturday’s upcoming release of The Trials of Hercules: Book One of the Osteria Chronicles, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to take a snarky look at another of Herc’s labors and see how the legend ties into the book.

In Myth: Hercules’s Seventh Labor

Hercules’s seventh labor is a bit of a myth within a myth. In this labor our hero must go to Crete to collect a bull to bring back to Eurystheus. Not too much of a challenge after razor-beaked birds, nine-headed sea monsters and indestructible lions. In truth, this is one of the duller labors because It’s just a bit too easy for the strong man.

If Hercules went to Scotland, he'd face this Highland cow.

If Hercules went to Scotland, he’d face this Highland cow.

Who can say why this labor is so easy? Maybe the Greeks were having a bad writing day, or maybe the ancient scribes just wanted to weave the Greek world into Minoan mythology since the bull in question is a vengeful payback from Poseidon to Minos, the king of Crete.

See, Minos was supposed to sacrifice Bull A to Poseidon because gods just love that sort of thing. But Minos thought, “Dang y’all, this bull is too purty to kill.” So, thinking he is tricking Poseidon, sacrifices Bull B instead.

Let’s just say gods are not that easily fooled and they can be a bit petty about trickster attempts by mortals. Since Bull A wasn’t slaughtered for Poseidon’s godly glory, he turned the bull into a raging wild beast that really did a number on the countryside of Crete.

But this destructive behavior wasn’t enough. Poseidon also got a bit kinky by making Minos’s wife fall in love with the bull and, well, um, “express her love physically.” Ew! And for a double “Ew,” she didn’t use protection, got knocked up and later gave birth to the Minotaur who ended up living in his mom’s basement in a series of mazes and eating young Cretan men and women. Seriously, people, sex with livestock never ends well.

Anyway, back to Hercules. His job was to catch Bull A and bring it back to Eurystheus. He wrestles the bull, subdues it and takes it home. Done and done. Unfortunately, Eurystheus lets the bull go and it causes havoc all over Greece. Plus, Bull A never even sent financial support to help out his love child and baby mama, or calf mama as the case may be.

In the Book: The Trials of Hercules

book, trials of hercules, osteria chroniclesIn The Trials of Hercules, I turn this rather boring labor into a pivotal point in the story. The endearing bull is well-behaved, gets no one pregnant and becomes something of a pet to Hercules. The affection Herc shows toward the bull (non-kinky affection) only makes the rather despicable Eury want to cause the creature harm. Eury’s treatment of the bull finally wakes Herc up to the true villain Eury is. I also use this labor to establish the kingdom of Minoa, which will play a larger role in Book Three of the series.

Special Safety Message…Sort of

And now, hilarious proof you shouldn’t mess with bulls…(kids, don’t try this at home):

 

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