Author: Jan Scholten
2.6.14 Stage 14: Erbium
Labor 11: The Apples of the Hesperides.
Originally Heracles had to do 10 labors. He wasn't allowed to get help or be paid for them. He had help from Iolaus with the Hydra of Lerna and received a field near Olympus from Augeas for cleaning his stables. So Eurystheus was happy to tell Heracles that he had to do 2 more jobs.
The garden of the Hesperides, maiden of the night, was near the underworld, further than Lybia, on a peninsula in the Oceanos. Heracles heard from the nymphs of the river Eridanus that Nereus, the water god, could tell him where to find the garden. He wrestled with Nereus who constantly changed form. Heracles though held him firmly until Nereus gave in and told him where to find the garden.
He travelled far and overcame many dangers to reach the garden:
Another story is that Atlas had to get the apples. Atlas was afraid to go and get the apples as the garden was guarded by a dragon with 100 heads, each head spitting hot air and making an awful noise. But Athena promised Atlas that the Hesperides would throw the apples to him. So Heracles had to support the world on his shoulders. Atlas came back with the apples but didn't want to support the world anymore. Heracles deceived him into taking over the world for a moment so that he could put a pillow between his shoulders and the globe. Atlas didn't see the trick and Heracles went home with the apples.
On his way home Heracles conquers the giant Antaeus and frees Prometheus.
Heracles lets Atlas do the job for him, as he himself doesn't have the power for it. Powerless is typical for Stage 14, especially in the form of only having formal power left. Heracles has to support the world on his shoulders. This is symbolic of the feeling of Erbium: carrying a heavy load and being unable to change that.