Agatha Christie’s Twelve Labours of Hercules
Agatha Christie’s The Labours of Hercules (1947) has her most popular detective, Hercule Poirot, follow in the footsteps of the greatest hero of antiquity. Poirot, at the end of his career and looking for a final challenge of truly heroic stature, imposes upon himself twelve tasks, tasks which need to have some symbolic connection with the original Labours of his namesake. In this chapter, I explore how and how deeply Christie, who did not know Greek but was extremely interested in the world of antiquity, engages with the ancient myth. I will conclude that this particular instance of reception is, at least in some cases, more than a mere gimmick, and occasionally offers us an interesting and intelligent modernization of the ancient hero; this holds in particular for Poirot’s dealings with the Cretan Bull, the Erymanthian Boar and the Stymphalean Birds.