Continuing yesterday's musings on what it would take to complete the 12 Labors of Hercules today.
7. Catch the Cretan Bull
The Cretan Bull was a white bull sent by Poseidon to Minos, king of Crete. The bull was meant to be a perfect specimen for Minos to sacrifice to the sea god,
but Minos kept the bull for himself and instead sacrificed an inferior bull. The bull ended up causing a lot more harm than good, and the king asked
Hercules to capture it. Hercules did so on his own by sneaking up
on it and choking it from behind.
Today's Version: Bulls are very dangerous creatures. They are fast, ferocious, and can kill humans in a variety of ways. They aren't too bright, though,
so capturing one would not be impossible. I don't know if human hands can strangle a bull's neck. Even if you were to get into that position, it would essentially
be a rodeo as the bull tried to buck you off his back. For this reason, I think it's appropriate to use a lasso or similar tools to help in restraining the bull. The
only requirement is that the bull is not killed. This labor actually probably played out a lot like a classic American rodeo.
8. Catch the Mares of Diomedes
The mares of Diomedes were a group of four violent, carnivorous horses. There are different versions of how Hercules accomplished this task, but the key details of
both are that he had to steal the horses from Diomedes. In each version, there were fights with Diomedes and his men.
Today's Version: To complete this task, you would have to steal 4 horses from someone who didn't want you stealing them. The horses should be as close to
untamed as possible, preferably aggressive in temperament. Obviously, stealing horses is not advised, so this would be best set up as a game against a volunteering
party. Some versions of the story involve Hercules working on his own and relying on stealth, and others involve Hercules using a group of men to first wage battle
against Diomedes' forces.
9. Retrieve the Belt of Hippolyta
The belt of Hippolyta was a gift given to the Amazonian queen by Ares. Hercules was tasked with obtaining it from her. The important detail here is that Hippolyta
was a queen of a warrior tribe of women, and wore a belt given to her by the god of war.
Today's Version: I think the best way to obtain a "belt of Hippolyta" today would be to fight a world champion female fighter in her sport. It has to be a
female athlete, and she has to be the belt-holding current champion. This task probably sounds the most silly, as it involves fighting a girl. But world champion
fighters are not going down easy, even with the advantage of being a man. This would require a lot of training to be able to take on a world champion. Since something
like this would be hard to set up, it could also be feasible to set a smaller goal of simply winning a local fighting tournament.
10. Steal the Cattle of Geryon
Hercules was given the mission of stealing the cattle of the giant Geryon. Geryon is described as having three bodies, and he carried three shields, three spears, and wore three helmets.
The herding of the cattle presented a separate difficulty in addition to slaying Geryon.
Today's Version: This can be looked at in 2 different ways. In one way, you can again set up a game with someone to steal cattle. This is much more difficult than
stealing 4 horses, as there were more cattle to control. Another way to look at it would be to set it up as a fight against someone of a higher weight class. Because the
giant is described as three-bodied, I think it's necessary to fight someone who is above 300 pounds. This would be an interesting contrast to the previous fight, which would involve
fighting someone of a different sex and lesser weight class. Either way would be fine for completing this task.
11. Steal Three Golden Apples
The Golden Apples of the Hesperides were guarded by a hundred-headed dragon who always kept at least one head awake. Additionally, they were kept in a garden whose location
was not well known. To get the apples, Hercules had to kill the dragon. Another version of the story involves Hercules holding up the world in place of Atlas, and upon Atlas' return
with the apples, tricks Atlas into holding up the earth again.
Today's Version: This is another strange one to find a modern equivalent for, even stranger than the hunting of the Stymphalian birds. Based on the first version, you
would have to basically do a repeat of the Hydra labor, only this time killing a hundred Komodo dragons, snakes, or crocodiles. While a hundred crocodiles are dangerous,
this task can be completed with modern weaponry, which makes killing a large number of animals clustered together much easier. That's not exactly cheating, either, as
Hercules' arrows were dipped in the Nemean Lion's blood, making them as deadly as modern day bullets.
To complete the task based on the second version,
you could offer to do something in place of someone else, and then trick them into doing it again. Or, you could accomplish something like a really heavy overhead press to substitute
holding the entire world on your shoulders. I think if you went for the shoulder press, it would have to be a world record lift. Another way to do it would be to simply support a heavy
weight on your shoulders for a period of time, without actually lifting it.
To take the task literally, though, the closest I can think of would be to find the actual Garden of Eden, get past its "flaming sword which moves in all directions" security guard,
and return with 3 pieces of fruit from the Tree of Life.
12. Catch Cerberus
Cerberus was the three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the Underworld. To complete this task, Hercules had to travel to the Underworld, and
he was able to restrain the dog with only his bare hands, carrying it back on his shoulders.
Today's Version: Again, this is one of the more fantastical tasks laid before Hercules. A substitution for a three-headed dog would easily be 3 dogs. Again, this does not involve
killing the dogs, only restraining them. These three dogs should be guard dogs, capable of doing damage. Although Hercules completed the task with his bare hands, I think it's
fine to wear plenty of armor into the fight. The most important thing is that the dogs are restrained without weapons.
Even these "modern" equivalents to Hercules' 12 Labors are exceptionally difficult. The closer you get to the "real" thing, the more dangerous they become. I think the most dangerous
of the twelve are the first two, which involve fighting dangerous creatures without ranged weaponry. Other than the first two, there are several that involve tracking and capturing
large animals. I think the type of person most suited to accomplishing the modern twelve labors would be a cowboy, ranchhand, or farmer, as they have the most relevant experience for