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The Labors of Hercules

It all started with a dream, in the dark chambers of the palace of Thebes.


The Dream of Alkeides

A muscular man was asleep; his closed eyes were moving slightly.

"I, the god sent Alkeides, have rid the land of pests and beasts my wars are brought to a fruitful end and all that's left is for me to ascend But… what if I end up alone? I will miss my wife and beloved sons!"

He wondered, for a moment there, did he give them the proper care?
His mind was clouded and filled with pride: "Do they deserve by me to abide?"
Then he directed to his spouse, "One may reject what one allows!"
And thus he left, without a word; he struggled to reach the Olympian top.
But struck by winds he was sent down, falling towards his abandoned home

He found his sons and woman dead, a man-like shadow calling them:
"Megara, Therimachos, Deicoon, and Creontiades, embrace your fate by joining Hades."
Alkeides charged without a thought, but all his efforts came to naught;
for the masked shadow, that caused much death, was more than equal to his strength.
And as they wrestled and time went by, Alkeides took a glimpse inside
behind that shadowy mask of his Alkeides saw: that face was his!

Alkeides woke up shocked and disgusted by what he saw. He himself was the shadow that had killed his family. Coming back to his senses, he realized that he did not have a family yet – and, relieved, he then took an oath never to have one until that shadowy figure was unrooted from his mind.

He sought refuge and advice by his friend and comrade Theseus in Athens. Theseus advised him to ask the oracle of Delphi, the divine Pythia, to interpret his dream and set him towards the right path. Alkeides arrived at Delphi with hope in his heart. He entered the dark chamber of the oracle and uttered his question: "Venerated Pythia, voice of Sun, I am the savior of the city of Thebes, so please tell me; why did the gods send me their messenger of woe?" He then proceeded to describe his nightmare.

When Pythia became aware of his dream, she rose up, looking powerful and terrifying, and she spoke with a stentorian voice: "Pride and arrogance have killed the voice of the gods within you; they have subjugated your will and made you a servant of flesh. No more does wisdom hold the reins, for it has been killed by the very hand that it led to triumph." Alkeides fell to his knees and pleaded for absolution. "How may I undo what I have committed?"
Approach Eurystheus. He will devise ten labours for you to complete; you have to leave your old self behind and start anew. To that end, your name has to be changed as well. Rise, Heracles!" With these words, the mighty Alkeides rose as Heracles, the one to strive for the glory of the soul.