Modern depictions of Greek and Roman mythology tend to sanitize things a bit — less blood and gore, more ear-catching tunes. A prime example is Hercules, the Roman version of Heracles. In the Disney telling of the story, he fights a bunch of monsters, then earns immortality by being willing to sacrifice himself to save his true love. But in the original version of the story, he has to fight the monsters because he killed his own wife and children.
The story says that he killed them after he was driven mad by his stepmother, Hera, the queen of the gods of Olympus. As atonement, Hercules must complete 12 herculean feats of strength and courage.
The first of these labors was to kill a lion that was terrorizing the people of Nemea, and take its skin to the king. But the lion’s skin couldn’t be pierced, so Hercules’s arrows just bounced off it. So the strongman followed the lion to its lair. He blocked one of its two entrances, then entered the cave. When Hercules found the lion, he grabbed it in a mighty choke-hold, eventually strangling it. He then used the lion’s own claws to skin it.
Afterwards, Zeus, the king of the gods, placed the lion in the heavens, as the constellation Leo.
And Leo is in great view tonight, spreading out near the Moon. The lion’s bright heart, the star Regulus, is not far to the lower left of the Moon as they climb into good view around 8 or 9 o’clock, and remains close as they spring across the sky during the night.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2012
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