Most people know three things about Hercules: that he was incredibly strong, that he was tasked to do a series of labors for some reason, and that a load of women followed him around, inexplicably singing gospel music at him.
So check it.
Hercules was the son of Zeus, the main dude of the Gods. Zeus had a real problem keeping his junk in his pants, so he had quite a few children running around--but for some reason, this particular child annoyed his wife, Hera, the very most. You'd think after a while that she'd just get used to it, but who can fathom the depths of a woman? Also Hera was Zeus' sister, which makes me a little cautious to accept that fancy dress party invitation from the ancient greeks.
At any rate, Zeus boned Alcmene--try saying that three times fast--and Hercules was born. I know I'm trying to focus on this origin story, but Alcmene also happened to be Zeus' great-granddaughter. What the fuck, ancient greeks? What the fuck.
Right, sorry, Hercules. Born. Giant baby. Zeus, for whatever reasons that will only be known to him, decided to allow the baby to feed from Hera--who I guess just happened to be lactating at the time?--while she was sleeping, so maybe that explains why she has a rod up her ass about the whole Hercules thing. This little scheme allowed Hercules to become partially immortal, which, you know? I guess kind of makes sense. At least one thing in this story does.
Hercules goes back to live on earth, and Hera decides that she doesn't have anything better to do than kill a baby, so she sends some snakes after him. Now, look, I'm not saying I want Hera to succeed in killing Hercules any more than the next person, but she is an immortal goddess. He is a dude that can lift things. She never, ever, EVER manages to kill him.
Look, I'm going to belabor this point for a minute. Hera once turned a woman into a crane for claiming that she was the most beautiful person on earth. She once blinded a dude for agreeing with Zeus over her. She turned a lady into turtle for not showing up at a wedding. A TURTLE. And yet the best she could do with the small child that she despised over all other things was to sick some snakes on him and, I guess, hide in a corner and cackle to herself.
The snakes thing doesn't work, shockingly, and Hercules grows up to be The Strongest Man Alive(tm). A lot of various things happen--I don't intend to even start on the Labours of Hercules--but the most important part is that he marries a woman named Megara.
Hey, Disney fans, you remember Megara, right? Smart, sassy, unwilling consort of the devil. The Disney movie spends a lot of time detailing the rise and fall of their relationship, right up to the point where Hercules learns to be Selfless(tm) and Kind(tm) and then everyone rides Pegasus off into the sunset. PEGASUS BELONGED TO BELLEROPHONE YOU TWAthe majority of the Disney story is cut from whole cloth, except for the fact that A) Megara existed and B) She had a uterus. She was actually the daughter of the king of Thebes, given to Hercules for doing a terribly good job either lifting something or killing something. She dutifully bore him two children, which he MURDERED HAHAHAHA.
Yeah. Hera, who has plenty of time to up the game on her killin' step-children, decides to drive Hercules mad for a while. Just general insanity. In the throes of his insanity, Hercules murders his wife and two children. Oopsie. Not exactly a heart-warming end to that tale.
In order to atone for his guilt, Hercules agrees to do a series of tasks, which eventually is known as the 12 Labours of Hercules. Hera goes off to figure out how to, I dunno, turn Hercules' best friend into a toad or something, and all is well.
Postscript: After Alcmene births Hercules, she ends up marrying a dude who also happens to be one of Zeus' sons. Haha! No, I'm sorry ancient greeks, I'm going to be busy EVERY weekend. Yeah, even that one.