GREENSBORO, NC—Stating that he had not yet fulfilled the labors set forth by Eurystheus to the satisfaction of the Mycenaean king, mythic hero Hercules announced Monday that for the 35th time in 3,000 years he will run for Greensboro City Council.
While many are familiar with the 12 labors of Hercules, it is not as widely known that the Greek demigod failed to successfully complete his sixth task, killing the man-eating, bronze-winged birds of Stymphalus. Though his arrows slew many of the feathered beasts, several escaped, and as a result, Hercules was given a 13th labor to complete before he could know peace.
"I must pay penance for the murder of my wife and children," Hercules said. "So spoke the Oracle at Delphi. And to do so, King Eurystheus, servant of Hera and my most loathed cousin, has decreed that I must be justly elected to the City Council of Greensboro, District 2, currently held by Goldie Wells."
To complete his new task, Hercules first had to wait several millennia for the New World to be discovered and colonized, for democratic ideals to flourish during the Age of Enlightenment, and for the United States be founded and win its independence. He then had to move to North Carolina, become a naturalized citizen, and wait until the town of Greensboro was incorporated in 1829. When this was done, he established residency in the fledgling town and waited an additional 100 years for the second district to take form, at which point he began his numerous campaigns.
Past elections have met with little success for the son of Zeus and Alcmena. His Pantheon Party does not have the support to qualify for matching funds, and several past opponents have run negative ads against him, citing Hercules' insolence in believing he is an equal to the gods, his proclivity to run off for a year at a time to chase bulls, and his dalliances with male companion Iolaus.
"I remember well the election of 1988," Hercules said. "It was the closest one to date. But the night before the polls opened, my opponent disclosed that I had killed Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and I completely lost the middle-aged female vote. Alas, I am not cut out for politics. Why can I not just clean out the Augean stables again?"
As a native speaker of an extinct ancient Theban dialect, Hercules has always fared poorly during debates. His frustration with the language barrier reached a breaking point in 2003, when he angrily ripped off the head of his translator and threw it into the sky mid-debate, creating the "Bloody Head" constellation.
Due to the exacting guidelines Eurystheus has laid down for the 13th labor, Hercules must run every part of the campaign himself. Consequently, he mans the phone banks and stuffs envelopes all day, breaking only for public appearances at supermarket grand openings and fun runs.
"By Zeus, I would rather shoulder the burden of Atlas again than go door-to-door collecting the signatures required to get my name on the ballot," Hercules said. "People are always sitting down to sup, and they do not wish to speak to one endowed with the strength of 10 men, clad in the skin of a mighty lion. Do they not know I choked the life from a Nemean beast to obtain this majestic pelt?"
With the election months away, anything is possible, but early polls show Hercules trailing the incumbent Wells by a substantial margin. According to local sources, despite his many previous campaigns, the ancient candidate is still met with suspicion by the electorate.
"I like where this guy stands on tightening business zoning ordinances and making Fourth Avenue a two-way street to reduce speeding in the residential areas," Greensboro voter Doug Marlon said. "But I take issue with his stance on sacking nearby cities and looting their valuables to bridge our budget shortfall.
"Besides, Hercules?" he added. "That name doesn't even sound American."