Behind the Book: Hercules’s Tenth Labor

 

Last Friday I told you of my pirate attack having left me feeling quite dismayed and very cynical about writing and publishing. I have to give a sincere thank you to the kind and helpful words my followers here and various places across the Interwebs have sent me. You’ve given me insight and encouragement that has left me feeling more inspired than ever to keep on keeping on – I’m also motivated by filling my head with delightfully evil images of all the illegal downloaders receiving tons of viruses with each pirated copy of my book they steal.

I’m still angry, I’m still feeling a tad vulnerable, but I want you to know that The Osteria Chronicles will go on, The Trials of Hercules (book one) is still enjoying its debut to the world, the second book will show up sometime around June 2015, and I’m going to continue on over the next few weeks with peeking into the myths that inspired The Trials of Hercules.

And since the tenth labor is a tad long, let’s get going…

Greek Legend Meets City Slickers – Hercules’s Tenth Labor

Moo.

Moo.

In Hercules’s tenth labor, he digs deep to find his inner cattle rustler.

This labor has several stories within it as if the person who came up with this story couldn’t decide where he wanted to go with the tale. To make this labor a tad bit more digestible, let’s break it down a bit.

THE PLAYERS

  • Hercules – But you knew that, right?
  • Geryon – This guy is a three-headed giant who has quite the family tree. His dad, Chyrsaor, came about from the blood of Medusa after Perseus did her the favor of removing her ugly head from her slithery body. His mom, Callirhoe, was the daughter of two titans – the beings that ruled the earth before the Olympian gods took over the job. Needless to say, Geryon isn’t exactly the sort of chap that’s going to invite you in for tea when you appear on his doorstep.
  • Orthus – This is Geryon’s pet dog that just happens to have two heads. He’s the brother of Cerebus, Hades’s three-headed dog who we’ll get to in Labor Twelve (stay tuned!). He guards Geryon’s cattle.
  • Helios – aka “The Sun”
  • Eryx – A son of the sea god Poseidon and maker of bad decisions.
  • Hephaestus – The god of volcanoes, forges, metal and smiths (the craftsmen, not the “Girl in a Coma” group)
  • Hera – The grinchiest of godesses.

ACT 1 – THE WAY TO GERYON

Geryon lived on an island is thought to be modern day Gibraltar, so Hercules had quite a journey ahead of him to steal the giant’s cattle. To get there, Herc crosses through the Libyan Desert, which as you may guess, is a tad hot.

Hercules, who may be experiencing a touch of heat stroke, starts cursing Helios for being so damn hot and shoots an arrow at the sun. This show of insanity impresses Helios enough to give Hercules a giant cup to sail in. Why he didn’t give our hero a real boat, who knows? There’s not a lot of logic behind the gods’ actions sometimes.

When Hercules gets to the edge of the Mediterranean, the way through is blocked. Apparently at the time, Libya and Europe were joined. The obvious solution to this – if you happen to possess super human strength, is to plow your way through to create a strait. Hence, the mountains at the edge of the Strait of Gibraltar became known as the Pillars of Hercules.

ACT 2 – CATTLE RUSTLING

cow2This part just seems a bit too easy given that Geryon would have made a great foe for Hercules to battle. Basically, Hercules comes ashore to rustle up the cattle. When Orthus attacks, Hercules clubs him to death (no ASPCA back then). Then, when Geryon comes to see “what in tar-nation is going on out there,” Hercules shoots him in the forehead with an arrow that he has dipped in the hydra’s blood. See, it’s kind of a labor let down.

ACT 3 – A TRIP TO ITALY

Unfortunately, the cup Helios gave to Hercules isn’t big enough for cattle transport, so Hercules heads over land to get the moo cows back to Mycenae. This takes him down to the heel of Italy’s boot where one of the bulls takes a swim…all the way to Sicily.

The local lingo for “bull” was “italus” and that’s where Italy got its name. Cool, huh?

ACT 4 – PLAYING NICE WITH OTHERS

Like Billy Crystal retrieving Norman’s mom in “City Slickers,” Hercules leaves the cattle in the care of Hephaestus and heads over to Sicily to get his bull back – okay, maybe not “just like” Billy Crystal, but close.

Eryx has already taken the bull for his own herd of cattle, but says Hercules can have the bull back if our hero can beat Eryx in a wrestling match. Okay, I know Eryx is the son of Poseidon, but does it seem like a smart move to challenge the world’s strongest guy to a wrestling match?

To no one’s surprise, Eryx loses. In a very un-sportsmanlike move, Hercules kills Eryx before heading back with the bull.

ACT 5 – AND THEN ALONG COMES HERA

Hercules is nearly back to Mycenae with the cattle when Hera sends a mess of flies to irritate the cattle – don’t you just hate her?! The cattle freak out and scatter across the countryside. Unfortunately, this is LONG before dude ranches started charging tourists to work their herds and Hercules spends a year rounding up the cattle. He could have SO used Billy Crystal.

In a last ditch effort to thwart Hercules, Hera swells the final river he needs to cross. No big deal, he fills it with rocks to make a bridge he can cross. Piece of mythological cake.

Behind the Book

coverfinaljpgIn The Trials of Hercules, I completely skip this labor. First, it just has WAY too much going on. Second, it feels a bit pointless and nothing in the labor provides much of a challenge to Herc. Third, it comes at a point of mounting climax between his time with the Amazons and the moment when Herc must battle with his own conscience in the eleventh labor; trying to include Labor Ten took away from the pace of the story without adding anything. So, if this ranks as your favorite labor, sorry.

 

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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS.

 

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