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Hellenistic sculpture known as the Farnese Hercules. Naples, National Museum. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, N.Y.

Hercules (HUR-kyoo-leez). Hercules was the Roman name of Heracles, or more precisely the Roman adaptation of the Greek hero of that name. Popular culture construes the names to be synonymous, in the sense that one speaks of the Labors of Hercules, meaning the tasks assigned the hero in Greek mythology. But there may have been a different Italian hero of legendary strength who was mixed with the Heracles brought to Italy by Greek colonists.