Chapter 19

Another fifty years has gone by. I have had several children by the women here on Olympus at my wife's insistance. She is hoping my genes will give them more longevity. I have had one human lover but that has produced only one child and a whole lot of problems! My wife heard that King Penalon was going to be away for two years. She approached him and asked if I could keep his wife company in his absence, and if she had a child if he would raise it. Knowing the rewards that this usually brought, the favors I gave those that had my children in their house, the King agreed. I had barely visited the woman, whose name was Alcmene, three times, and she announced she was with child! But I kept right on visiting her because she was extremely pleasurable!
2 The child was born a healthy and exceptional boy. All seemed well until the King returned. He seemed pleasurable and delighted with the child but we did not find out until some time later, that he was insanely jealous of him and began almost immediately to plot his death! He had two great serpents that had been given to him as a gift that killed their prey by crushing them. One night he put the serpents in the baby's crib, who was called Herakles, thinking that would be the end of it. When great cries woke him in the morning him and his wife rushed to the child's room to find the nursemaids in hysteria! Here was the child happily playing in his crib with two exhausted snakes who were so tired they didn't even try to wrap themselves around him any more. The child just happily laughed and patted them!
3 "Fun! Fun!" the boy cried. "Play with twistie things all night! Fun! Fun!"
4 The King quickly had the snakes removed. Herakles' mother was suspicious, but said nothing. Some weeks later a visitor came, a well known poisoner that the King had used on several occasions. He had him mix a very potent poison and put it in the extra milk that was being given to the child because his mother's breasts could not provide enough to satisfy him. The King watched the boy drain the bottle dry with great glee. The boy immediately went to sleep. The next morning the nursemaids were again upset. "What is it?" the King asked.
5 "The boy got up for his morning pee," the nursemaid answered. "After he went smoke came from the pot! It melted and we had to clean it up! We asked him if it hurt him at all, and he said no, it was just a little warm."
6 The King was perplexed, but immediately began to plot another attempt. He took the boy with him when he visited his estates. There were a flock of large birds that were terrorizing some of his people. They could not go out at night. Anyone that tried to would be found in the morning a pile of bones from which every bit of flesh had been ripped! The King sat up his tent by a great field and ordered all of his servants away. He staked the boy out in the middle of the field on a long tether some distance from his tent, and gave him a bottle of water and a loaf of bread, and told him to watch for birds and call him if any came. The boy happily took up his task.
7 The King went to sleep. Some time in the night he awoke, hearing the screeching of birds and loud thuds. In the morning he awoke and went outside. To his amazement there lay the boy, beside him the stake to which his tether line had been tied, and all about him in the field huge, dead birds! Each one had a stone driven through it. The King wondered and then he noticed the stake had many pits in it and realized what had happened. The boy had tossed stones in the air, hit them with the stake, and the stones had struck and killed the birds! The King was more frustrated than ever!
8 But when he got home and his servants told his wife of his strange behavior, she knew something terrible was happening! She summoned Creos. "I wish this child to be taken to some safe place," she explained, "where he can grow up and you can tutor him. I wish him out of this palace! Tell the King Zeus has asked you to take charge of him."
9 "There is a couple just over the border," Creos remarked, "that just lost a son about this age! Axius and Helena. They are fine people. I will take the child to them and drop by as often as I can to tutor him."
10 When Creos put the proposal to the King he was overjoyed! He thought of ways he might see to it that the child never came home. He joyously let him go with Creos. His mother told Herakles not to fuss, that the lady he was going to would be a good mother to him, and he was to stay there and be good.
11 "I will miss you, mother!" Herakles answered.
12 "I will miss you, too!" his mother answered.
13 The boy picked up his favorite toy, the stake he had been tethered to when he killed the birds, and followed Creos. Though some strange incidents happened several times as the child grew, no harm ever came to him, and he grew strong and bold, but not all that bright. Though Creos tried to teach him many things, the only thing he was interested in was the use of arms. Though he did learn to read and write, with the new alphabet that was going around, and actually could compose a little verse which many enjoyed!
14 But when it came time for him to serve he returned to the King's castle and was soon one of his greatest warriors, often going out fighting the monsters that were beginning to plague the land; all manner of strange beasts..huge bulls that terrorized the land, great fish that terrorized the water, there seemed to be one everywhere! But with every great accomplishment Herakles made the King became more and more jealous. Herakles met a young woman from a neighboring kingdom on one of his adventures, the sixth daughter of that land's king, Megara. They were married and had two children, and Herakles adored them.
15 The King came up with a hideous plot to destroy Herakles' reputation and perhaps Herakles in the process! He hired a great assassin who was as big as Herakles, dressed him in clothes exactly like those that Herakles had, and

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