Hercules was the son of Jupiter, king of the gods who, together with other deities, lived in a palace surrounded by clouds and built on top of a mountain called Mount Olympus. Juno, Jupiter’s wife, had been seized with hatred for the child since its birth, since he was the result of her husband’s union with a common mortal, Alcmene, a Theban princess. Out of jealousy she ordered two poisonous snakes into the cradle to kill him, but they were strangled by the baby. Juno waited for a more auspicious occasion to take her revenge.
It is said that the Queen of Olympus came down from the clouds and entered the house where Hercules, now an adult, lived with his family. The goddess, after taking the form of a servant girl, poured a few drops of a drug into his wine. The effects were so devastating that the man, seized with uncontrollable fury, killed his wife and children. In order to redeem himself for his terrible crime, Jupiter made him go to his cousin Eurystheus, King of Tiryns and Mycenae, who assigned him twelve labours as a penalty to atone for his terrible guilt.