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Okay, quick, do you remember all of the twelve labors of Hercules ?  I sure as heck couldn't; which is one of the nice things about Odds Bodkin's oral version of the myth of Hercules.  Bodkin is a well known storyteller, particularly here in New England, who accompanies himself on twelve string guitar.  That's one other nice thing about this cd set, that it is reminiscent of how these stories and legends would have been presented when they were first being concocted, though the teller would probably have been blind and playing a lute or something.

For the purposes of this setting, Bodkin imagines Hercules has died and Hades and Persephone prevail upon him to relate the story of the twelve labors before he can leave the underworld.  Here they are (as listed at the Perseus Digital Library) :

    Labor 1: The Nemean Lion
    Labor 2: The Lernean Hydra
    Labor 3: The Hind of Ceryneia
    Labor 4: The Erymanthean Boar
    Labor 5: The Augean Stables
    Labor 6: The Stymphalian Birds
    Labor 7: The Cretan Bull
    Labor 8: The Horses of Diomedes
    Labor 9: The Belt of Hippolyte
    Labor 10: Geryon's Cattle
    Labor 11: The Apples of the Hesperides
    Labor 12: Cerberus

Bodkin mixes thrills and humor in the telling and also, being "socially conscious", has an ulterior motive here, the whole epic is sort of structured around Hercules trying to learn how to control his rage.  You may recall that the labors were assigned to him as a way of purging his conscience after he accidentally murdered his family in a Hera-induced blinding rage.  I guess this is Odds Bodkin's way of preventing another school shooting, a noble enough cause,nd for the most part he keeps it fairly subtle, though he does go a mite overboard when he has Hercules finally get control of his fury only after spending a few years cross-dressing (you'll have to give it a listen to find out) and getting in touch with his feminine side.

Hercules does lead a pretty violent life, so the recording is not suitable for young children, but any teenage boys who watch wrestling are certainly old enough for this.  You don't have to inform them that they're also getting a healthy dose of their cultural heritage in the process.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B-)

  

Websites:

See also:

Audio Books
Classics
Book-related and General Links:
    -Odds Bodkin Online
    -ODDS BODKIN (NH State Council on the Arts)
    -ESSAY : Storyteller Chronicles: Hercules in Chicago (Odds Bodkin, Learning Network)
    -ESSAY : Can Stories Teach Peace? (Odds Bodkin, iTeach)
    -INTERVIEW : with Odds Bodkin (Learning Network)
    -STUDY GUIDE : to The Rage of Hercules
    -REVIEW : of Little Proto's T-Rex Adventure  by Odds Bodkin (Michael Leppert , The Link : A Homeschool Newspaper)

GENERAL :
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : hercules
    -Hercules : Greece's Greatest Hero (Perseus digital library)
    -Herakles Online

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