The 12 Labors of Hercules: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Trenton Judson

Trenton is an assistant English professor with a Master's degree in English.

Hercules was one of the greatest mythological characters in all of history. In this lesson, learn about the twelve labors that tested Hercules and made him a hero.

The Twelve Labors: Twelve Years and Twelve Tests

King Eurystheus of Tiryns gave Hercules twelve labors, or huge tasks, that were meant to test his strength and prove he was a hero. He was given twelve years to complete them.

The Nemean Lion

The first labor that the King gave Hercules was to kill the Nemean lion, whose skin was so strong that nothing on earth could break through it. Hercules tried to shoot the lion with his bow and arrow, but the arrow just bounced off. After a chase through a cave, Hercules choked the lion and returned to the King.

Hercules Wearing the Skin of the Nemean Lion

The Nine-Headed Hydra

The second labor was to kill the nine-headed hydra monster. Hercules found the hydra deep in the Lernaean swamps and used his fire arrows to bring the monster out. Then, he cut off each of the nine heads until the monster was finally dead.

The Ceryneian Hind

Hercules' third labor was to catch the Ceryneian hind, which was really just a fancy name for a special deer with golden antlers. This deer was so fast that it took Hercules almost a whole year to catch it!

The Erymanthian Boar

The fourth labor was to catch the Erymanthian boar, which was a giant hairy pig with tusks that terrorized nearby villages. Hercules chased the boar in the snowy mountains until it was tired and weak. Then, he used his long spear to drive the boar into a net and carried it back to the King.

The Augean Stables

The fifth labor was Hercules' dirtiest one! The King told him to clean the Augean stables, which were full of herds of cattle and manure. Hercules dug two giant trenches that led to two rivers, which allowed water to flow through the stables and clean up the mess in only one afternoon!

Hercules Cleaning the Augean Stables

The Stymphalian Birds

Hercules' sixth labor was to scare away some pesky birds. To do this, he used a pair of noisemakers to scare them and then shot at them with arrows until they died or flew away.

The Cretan Bull

The seventh labor seemed all too easy for Hercules after facing so many difficult challenges. Hercules was asked to wrestle a giant bull and capture it. With his superhuman strength, Hercules easily wrestled the bull and captured him.

The Mares of Diomedes

The eighth labor was to capture man-eating horses called the Mares of Diomedes. Hercules had to fight Diomedes' soldiers to get the horses, but his courage and strength got the job done.

Hippolyte's Belt

Hippolyte was the queen of women warriors called the Amazons. Hercules' ninth labor was to bring back Hippolyte's special belt. When he reached her, she agreed to give it to him, but one of the other warriors found out and tricked the Amazons into attacking Hercules. Hercules fought them and took the belt back to the King.

An Amazon Warrior in Her Armor

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