P256Herakles was the greatest of the Greek heroes and eventually he even received the status of a god. A Greek hero was a mortal man, often with one divine and one mortal parent, who received limited divine power after his death. Hero cults were normally local, but the cult of Herakles was spread over the whole of Greece, just like the cults of the gods.

P205Herakles was the son of the supreme god Zeus and princess Alkmene from Mykene. Many stories are told about him. His most famous feats are the 'twelve labours', twelve seemingly impossible tasks in all corners of the world. These twelve labours are sculpted in relief on the metopes of the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Among these labours was the killing of a savage lion in the neighbourhood of Nemea. Herakles succeeded and for this reason he is often depicted in a lionskin or with a lion's cap.

Herakles is always pictured as a very masculine god: a big and strong fighter with a club in his hands. He was the patron of both military and sportive training. He was mainly associated with combat sports. Just like thefamous athletes from these events, Herakles was attributed an enormous appetite.

© KU Leuven, 2012