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LIFE OF HERACLES
I am not unaware that many difficulties beset those who undertake to give an account of the ancient myths, and especially is this true with respect to the myths about Heracles. For as regards that magnitude of the deeds which he accomplished it is generally agreed that Heracles has been handed down as one who surpassed all men of whom memory from the beginning of time has brought down an account; consequently it is a difficult attainment to report each one of his deeds in a worthy manner and to present a record which shall be on a level with labours so great, the magnitude of which won for him the prize of immortality.
Furthermore, since in the eyes of many men the very early age and astonishing nature of the facts which are related make the myths incredible, a writer is under the necessity either of omitting the greatest deeds and so detracting somewhat from the fame of the god, or of recounting them all and in so doing making the history of them incredible.
For some readers set up an unfair standard and require in the accounts of the ancient myths the same exactness as in the events of our own time, and using their own life as a standard they pass judgment on those deeds the magnitude of which throw them open to doubt, and estimate the might of Heracles by the weakness of the men of our day, with the result that the exceeding magnitude of his deeds makes the account of them incredible.
For, speaking generally, when the histories of myths are concerned, a man should be no means scrutinize the truth with so sharp an eye. In the theatres, for instance, though we are persuaded there have existed no Centaurs who are composed of two different kinds of bodies nor any Geryones with three bodies, we yet look with favour upon such products of the myths as these, and by our applause we enhance the honour of the god.
And strange it would be indeed that Heracles, while yet among mortal men, should by his own labours have brought under cultivation the inhabited world, and that human beings should nevertheless forget the benefactions which rendered them generally and slander the commendation he received for the noblest deeds, and strange that our ancestors should have unanimously accorded immortality to him because of his exceedingly great attainments, and that we should nevertheless fail to cherish and maintain for the god the pious devotion which has been handed down to us from our fathers. However, we shall leave such considerations and relate his deeds from the beginning, basing our account on those of the most ancient poets and writers of myth.
BIRTH OF HERACLES
This, then, is the story as it has been given us: Perseus was the son of Danaê, the daughter of Acrisius, and Zeus. Now Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, lay with him and bore Electryon, and then Eurydicê, the daughter of Pelops, married him and gave birth to Alcmenê, who in turn was wooed by Zeus, who deceived her, and bore Heracles.
Consequently the sources of this descent, in their entirety, lead back, as is claimed, through both his parents to the greatest of the gods, in the manner we have shown. The prowess which was found in him was not only to be seen in his deeds, but was also recognized even before his birth. For when Zeus lay with Alcmenê he made the night three times its normal length and by the magnitude of the time expended on the procreation he presaged the exceptional might of the child which would be begotten.
And, in general, he did not effect this union from the desire of love, as he did in the case of other women, but rather only for the sake of procreation. Consequently, desiring to give legality to his embraces, he did not choose to offer violence to Alcmenê, and yet he could not hope to persuade her because of her chastity; and so, deciding to use deception, he deceived Alcmenê by assuming in every respect the shape of Amphitryon.
When the natural time of pregnancy had passed, Zeus, whose mind was fixed upon the birth of Heracles, announced in advance in the presence of all the gods that it was his intention to make the child who should be born that day king over the descendants of Perseus; whereupon Hera, who was filled with jealousy, using as her helper Eileithyia, her daughter, checked the birth-pains of Alcmenê and brought Eurystheus forth to the light before his full time.
Zeus, however, though he had been outgeneralled, wished both to fulfill his promise and to take thought for the future fame of Heracles; consequently, they say, he persuaded Hera to agree that Eurystheus should be king as he had promised, but that Heracles should serve Eurystheus and perform twelve Labours, these to be whatever Eursytheus should prescribe, and that after he had done so he should receive the gift of immortality.
After Alcmenê had brought forth the babe, fearful of Hera’s jealousy she exposed it at a place which to this time is called after him the Field of Heracles. Now at this very time Athena, approaching the spot in the company of Hera and being amazed at the natural vigour of the child, persuaded Hera to offer it the breast. But when the boy tugged upon her breast with greater violence than would be expected at his age, Hera was unable to endure the pain and cast the babe from her, whereupon Athena took it to its mother and urged her to rear it.
And anyone may well be surprised at the unexpected turn of the affair; for the mother whose duty it was to love her own offspring was trying to destroy it, while she who cherished towards it a stepmother’s hatred, in ignorance saved the life of one who was her natural enemy.
After this Hera sent two serpents to destroy the babe, but the boy, instead of being terrified, gripped the neck of a serpent in each hand and strangled them both. Consequently the inhabitants of Argos, on learning of what had taken place, gave him the name Heracles because he had gained glory (kleos) by the aid of Hera, although he had formerly been called Alcaeus. Other children are given their names by their parents, this one alone gained his name by his valour.
HERACLES AND ERGINUS
After this time Amphitryon was banished from Tiryns and changed his residence to Thebes; and Heracles, in his rearing and education and especially in the thorough instruction which he received in physical exercises, came to be the first by far in bodily strength among all the rest and famed for his nobility of spirit. Indeed, while he was still a youth in age he first of all restored the freedom of Thebes, returning in this way to the city, as though it were the place of his birth, the gratitude which he owed it.
For though the Thebans had been made subject to Erginus, the king of the Minyans, and were paying him a fixed yearly tribute, Heracles was not dismayed at the superior power of these overlords but had the courage to accomplish a deed of fame. Indeed, when the agents of the Minyans appeared to require the tribute and were insolent in their exactions, Heracles mutilated them and then expelled them from the city.
Erginus then demanded that the guilty party be handed over to him, and Creon, the king of the Thebans, dismayed at the great power of Erginus, was prepared to deliver the man who was responsible for the crime complained of. Heracles, however, persuading the young men of his age to strike for the freedom of their fatherland, took out of the temples the suits of armour which had been affixed to their walls, dedicated to the gods by their forefathers as spoil from their wars; for there was not to be found in the city any arms in the hands of a private citizen, the Minyans having stripped the city of its arms in order that the inhabitants of Thebes might not entertain any thought of revolting from them.
And when Heracles learned that Erginus, the king of the Minyans, was advancing with troops against the city he went out to meet him in a certain narrow place, whereby he rendered the multitude to the hostile force of no avail, killed Erginus himself, and slew practically all the men who had accompanied him. Then appearing unawares before the city of the Orchomenians and slipping in at their gates he burned the palace of the Minyans and razed the city to the ground.
TWELVE LABOURS OF HERACLES
After this deed had been noised about throughout the whole of Greece and all men were filled with wonder at the unexpected happening, Creon the king, admiring the high achievement of the young man, united his daughter Megara in marriage to him and entrusted him with the affairs of the city as though he were his lawful son; but Eursytheus, who was ruler of Argolis, viewing with suspicion the growing power of Heracles, summoned him to his side and commanded him to perform Labours.
And when Heracles ignored the summons Zeus dispatched word to him to enter the service of Eurystheus; whereupon Heracles journeyed to Delphi, and on inquiring of the god regarding the matter he received a reply which stated that the gods had decided that he should perform twelve Labours at the command of Eurystheus and that upon their conclusion he should receive the gift of immortality.
At such a turn of affairs Heracles fell into despondency of no ordinary kind; for he felt that servitude to an inferior was a thing which his high achievements did not deserve, and yet he saw that it would be hurtful to himself and impossible not to obey Zeus, who was his father as well. While he was thus greatly at a loss, Hera sent upon him a frenzy, and in his vexation of soul he fell into a madness. As the affliction grew on him he lost his mind and tried to slay Iolaüs, and when Iolaüs made his escape but his own children by Megara were near by, he shot his bow and killed them under the impression that they were enemies of his.
When he finally recovered from his madness and recognized the mistake he had made through a misapprehension, he was plunged in grief over the magnitude of the calamity. And while all extended him sympathy and joined in his grief, for a long while he stayed inactive at home, avoiding any association or meeting with men; at last, however, time assuaged his grief, and making up his mind to undergo the dangers he made his appearance at the court of Eurystheus.
HERACLES LABOUR 1: NEMEIAN LION
The first Labour which he undertook was the slaying of the lion in Nemea. This was a beast of enormous size, which could not be wounded by iron or bronze or stone and required the compulsion of the human hand for his subduing. It passed the larger part of its time between Mycenae and Nemea, in the neighbourhood of a mountain which was called Tretus from a peculiarity which it possessed; for it had a cleft at its base which extended clean through it and in which the beast was accustomed to lurk.
Heracles came to the region and attacked the lion, and when the beast retreated into the cleft, after closing up the other opening he followed in after it and grappled with it, and winding his arms about its neck choked it to death. The skin of the lion he put about himself, and since he could cover his whole body with it because of its great size, he had in it a protection against the perils which were to follow.
HERACLES LABOUR 2: LERNAEAN HYDRA
The second Labour which he undertook was the slaying of the Lernaean hydra, springing from whose single body were fashioned a hundred necks, each bearing the head of a serpent. And when one head was cut off, the place where it was severed put forth two others; for this reason it was considered to be invincible, and with good reason, since the part of it which was subdued sent forth a two-fold assistance in its place.
Against a thing so difficult to manage as this Heracles devised an ingenious scheme and commanded Iolaüs to sear with a burning brand the part which had been severed, in order to check the flow of the blood. So when he had subdued the animal by this means he dipped the heads of his arrows in the venom, in order that when the missile should be shot the wound which the point made might be incurable.
HERACLES LABOUR 3: ERYMANTHIAN BOAR
The third Command which he received was the bringing back alive of the Erymanthian boar which lived on Mount Lampeia in Arcadia. This Command was thought to be exceedingly difficult, since it required of the man who fought such a beast that he possess such a superiority over it as to catch precisely the proper moment in the very heat of the encounter. For should he let it loose while it still retained its strength he would be in danger from its rushes, and should he attack it more violently than was proper, then he would have killed it and so the Labour would remain unfulfilled.
However, when it came to the struggle he kept so careful an eye on the proper balance that he brought back the boar alive to Eurystheus; and when the king saw him carrying the boar on his shoulders, he was terrified and hid himself in a bronze vessel.
HERACLES, PHOLUS AND THE CENTAURS
About this time that Heracles was performing these Labours, there was a struggle between him and the Centaurs, as they are called, the reason being as follows. Pholus the Centaur, from whom the neighbouring mountain came to be called Pholoê, and receiving Heracles with the courtesies due to a guest he opened for him a jar of wine which had been buried in the earth. This jar, the writers of myths relate, had of old been left with a certain Centaur by Dionysus, who had given him orders only to open it when Heracles should come to that place. And so, four generation after that time, when Heracles was being entertained as a guest, Pholus recalled the orders of Dionysus.
Now when the jar had been opened and the sweet odour of the wine, because of its great age and strength, came to the Centaurs dwelling near there, it came to pass that they were driven mad; consequently they rushed in a body to the dwelling of Pholus and set about plundering him of the wine in a terrifying manner.
At this Pholus hid himself in fear, but Heracles, to their surprise, grappled with those who were employing such violence. He had indeed to struggle with beings who were gods on their mother’s side, who possessed the swiftness of horses, who had the strength of two bodies, and enjoyed in addition the experience and wisdom of men. The Centaurs advanced upon him, some with pine trees which they had plucked up together with the roots, others with great rocks, some with burning firebrands, and still others with axes such as are used to slaughter oxen.
But he withstood them without sign of fear and maintained a battle which was worthy of his former exploits. The Centaurs were aided in their struggle by their mother Nephelê, who sent down a heavy rain, by which she gave no trouble to those who had four legs, but for him who was supported upon two made the footing slippery. Despite all this Heracles maintained an astonishing struggle with those who enjoyed such advantages as these, slew the larger part of them, and forced the survivors to flee.
Of the Centaurs which were killed the most renowned were Daphnis, Argeius, Amphion, also Hippotion, Oreius, Isoples, Malanchaetes, and Thereus, Doupon, and Phrixus. As for those who escaped the peril by flight, every one of them later received a fitting punishment: Homadus, for instance, was killed in Arcadia when he was attempting to violate Alcyonê, the sister of Eurystheus. And for this feat it came to pass that Heracles was marveled at exceedingly; for though he had private grounds for hating his enemy, yet because he pitied her who was being outraged, he determined to be superior to others in humanity.
A peculiar thing also happened in the case of him who was called Pholus, the friend of Heracles. While he was burying the fallen Centaurs, since they were his kindred, and was extracting an arrow from one of them, he was wounded by the barb, and since the wound could not be healed he came to his death. Heracles gave him a magnificent funeral and buried him at the foot of the mountain, which serves better than a gravestone to preserve his glory; for Pholoê makes known the identity of the buried man by bearing his name and no inscription is needed. Likewise Heracles unwittingly by a shot from his bow killed the Centaur Cheiron, who was admired for his knowledge of healing. But as the for the Centaurs let what we have said suffice.
HERACLES LABOUR 4: CERYNITIAN HIND
The next Command which Heracles received was the bringing back of the hart which had golden horns and excelled in swiftness of foot. In the performance of this Labour his sagacity stood him in not less stead than his strength of body. For some say that he captured it by the use of nets, others that he tracked it down and mastered it while it was asleep, and some that he wore it out by running it down. One thing is certain, that he accomplished this Labour by his sagacity of mind, without the use of force and without running any perils.
HERACLES LABOUR 5: STYMPHALIAN BIRDS
Heracles then received a Command to drive the birds out of the Stymphalian Lake, and he easily accomplished the Labour by means of a device of art and by ingenuity. The lake abounded, it would appear, with a multitude of birds without telling, which destroyed the fruits of the country round-about. Now it was not possible to master the animals by force because of the exceptional multitude of them, and so the deed called for ingenuity in cleverly discovering some device. Consequently he fashioned a bronze rattle whereby he made a terrible noise and frightened the animals away, and furthermore, by maintaining a continual din, he easily forced them to abandon their siege of the place and cleansed the lake of them.
HERACLES LABOUR 6: STABLES OF AUGEAS
Upon the performance of this Labour he received a Command from Eurystheus to cleanse the stables of Augeas, and to do this without the assistance of any other man. These stables contained an enormous mass of dung which had accumulated over a great period, and it was a spirit of insult which induced Eurystheus to lay upon him the command to clean out this dung. Heracles declined as unworthy of him to carry this out upon his shoulders, in order to avoid the disgrace which would follow upon the insulting command; and so, turning the course of the Alpheius river, as it is called, into the stables and cleansing them b means of the stream, he accomplished the Labour in a single day, and without suffering any insult. Surely, then, we may well marvel at the ingenuity of Heracles; for he accomplished the ignoble task involved in the Command without incurring any disgrace or submitting to something which would render him unworthy of immortality.
HERACLES LABOUR 7: CRETAN BULL
The next Labour which Heracles undertook was to bring back from Crete the bull of which, they say, Pasiphaê had been enamoured, and sailing to the island he secured the aid of Minos the king and brought it back to the Peloponnesus, having voyaged upon its back over so wide an expanse of sea.
THE FOUNDING OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
After the performance of this Labour Heracles established the Olympic Games, having selected for so great a festival the most beautiful of places, which was the plain lying along the banks of the Alpheius river, where he dedicated these Games to Zeus the Father. And he stipulated that he prize in them should be only a crown, since he himself had conferred benefits upon the race of men without receiving any monetary reward.
All the contests were won by himself without opposition by anyone else, since no one was bold enough to contend with him because of his exceeding prowess. And yet the contests are very different one from another, since it is hard for a boxer or one who enters for the “Pankration” to defeat a man who runs the “stadion,” and equally difficult for the man who wins first place in the light contests to wear down those who excel in the heavy. Consequently it was fitting that of all Games the Olympic should be the one most honoured, since they were instituted by a noble man.
It would also not be right to overlook the gifts which were bestowed upon Heracles by the gods because of his high achievements. For instance, when he returned from the wars to devote himself to both relaxations and festivals, as well as to feasts and contests, each on of the gods honoured him with appropriate gifts; Athena with a robe, Hephaestus with a war-club and coat of mail, these two gods vying with one another in accordance with the arts they practised, the one with an eye to the enjoyment and delight afford in times of peace, the other looking to his safety amid the perils of war. As for the other gods, Poseidon presented him with horses, Hermes with a sword, Apollo gave him a bow and arrows and taught him their use, and Demeter instituted the Lesser Mysteries in honour of Heracles, that she might purify him of the guilt he had incurred in the slaughter of the Centaurs.
A peculiar thing also came to pass in connection with the birth of this god. The first mortal woman, for instance, with whom Zeus lay was Niobê, the daughter of Phoroneus, and the last was Alcmenê, who, as writers of myths state in their genealogies, was the sixteenth lineal descendant from Niobê. It appears, then, that Zeus began to beget human beings with the ancestors of this Alcmenê and ceased with her; that is, he stopped with her his intercourse with mortal women, since he had no hope that he would beget in after times one who would be worthy of his former children and was unwilling to have the better followed by the worse.
HERACLES AND THE WAR OF THE GIANTS
After this, when the Giants about Pallenê chose to begin the war against the immortals, Heracles fought on the side of the gods, and slaying many of the Sons of Earth he received the highest approbation. For Zeus gave the name of “Olympian” only to those gods who had fought by his side, in order that the courageous, by being adorned by so honourable a title, might be distinguished by this designation from the coward; and of those who were born of mortal women he considered only Dionysus and Heracles worthy of this name, not only because they had Zeus for their father, but also because they had avowed the same plan of life as he and conferred great benefits upon the life of men.
HERACLES AND PROMETHEUS
And Zeus, when Prometheus had taken fire and given it to men, put him in chains and set an eagle at his side which devoured his liver. But when Heracles saw him suffering such punishment because of the benefit which he had conferred upon men, he killed the eagle with an arrow, and then persuading Zeus to cease from his anger he rescued him who had been the benefactor of all.
HERACLES LABOUR 8: HORSES OF DIOMEDES
The next Labour which Heracles undertook was the bringing back of the horses of Diomedes, the Thracian. The feeding-troughs of those horses were of brass because the steeds were so savage, and they were fastened by iron chains because of their strength, and the food they ate was not the natural produce of the soil but they tore apart the limbs of strangers and so got their food from the ill lot of hapless men. Heracles, in order to control them, threw to them their master Diomedes, and when he had satisfied the hunger of the animals by means of the flesh of the man who had taught them to violate human law in this fashion, he had them under his control.
And when the horses were brought to Eurystheus he consecrated them to Hera, and in fact their breed continued down to the reign of Alexander of Macedon.
When this Labour was finished Heracles sailed forth with Jason as a member of the expedition to the Colchi to get the golden fleece. But we shall give a detailed account of these matters in connection with the expedition of the Argonauts.
HERACLES LABOUR 9: THE AMAZONS
Heracles then received a Command to bring back the girdle of Hippolytê the Amazon and so made the expedition against the Amazons. Accordingly he sailed into the Pontus, which was named by him Euxeinus, and continuing to the mouth of the Thermodon River he encamped near the city of Themiscyra, in which was situated the palace of the Amazons.
And first of all he demanded of them the girdle which he had been commanded to get; but when they would pay no heed to him, he joined battle with them. Now the general mass of the Amazons were arrayed against he main body of the followers of Heracles, but the most honoured of the women were drawn up opposite Heracles himself and put up a stubborn battle. The first, for instance, to join battle with him was Aella, who had been given this name because of her swiftness, but she found her opponent more agile than herself. The second, Philippis, encountering a mortal blow at the very first conflict, was slain. Then he joined battle with Prothoê, who, they said had been victorious seven times over the opponents whom she had challenged to battle. When she fell, the fourth whom he overcame was known as Eriboea. She had boasted that because of the manly bravery which she displayed in contest of war she had no need of anyone to help her, but she found her claim was false when she encountered her better.
Then next, Celaeno, Eurybia, and Phoebê, who were companions of Artemis in the hunt and whose spears found their mark invariably, did not even graze the single target, but in that fight they were one and all cut down as they stood shoulder to shoulder with each other. After them Deïaneira, Asteria and Marpê, and Tecmessa Alcippê were overcome. The last-named had taken a vow to remain a maiden, and the vow she kept, but her life she could not preserve. The commander of the Amazons, Melanippê, who was also greatly admired for her manly courage, now lost her supremacy.
And Heracles, after thus killing the most renowned of the Amazons and forcing the remaining multitude to turn in flight, cut down the greater number of them, so that he race of them was utterly exterminated. As for the captives, he gave Antiopê as a gift to Theseus and set Melanippê free, accepting her girdle as her ransom.
HERACLES LABOUR 10: CATTLE OF GERYON
Eurystheus then enjoined upon him as a tenth Labour the bringing back of the cattle of Geryones, which pastured in the parts of Iberia which slope towards the ocean. And Heracles, realizing that this task called for preparation on a large scale and involving great hardships, gathered a notable armament and a multitude of soldiers such as would be adequate for this expedition.
For it had bee noised abroad throughout all the inhabited world that Chrysaor, who received this appellation because of his wealth, was king over the whole of Iberia, and that he had three sons to fight at his side, who excelled in both strength of body and the deeds of courage which they displayed in contests of war; it was known, furthermore, that each of these sons had at his disposal great forced which were recruited from warlike tribes. It was because of these reports that Eurystheus, thinking any expedition against these men would be too difficult to succeed, had assigned to Heracles the Labour just described.
HERACLES ON CRETE
But Heracles met the perils with the same bold spirit which he had displayed in the deeds which he had performed up to this time. His forces he gathered and brought to Crete, having decided to make his departure from that place; for this island is especially well situated for expeditions against an part of the inhabited world. Before his departure he was magnificently honoured by the natives, and wishing to show his gratitude to the Cretans he cleansed the island of the wild beasts which infested it. And this is the reason why in later times not a single wild animal, such as a bear, or wolf, or serpent, or any similar beast, was to be found on the island. This deed he accomplished for the glory of the island, which, the myths relate, was both the birthplace and the early home of Zeus.
HERACLES AND ANTAEUS
Setting sail, then, from Crete, Heracles put in at Libya, and first of all he challenged to a fight Antaeus, whose fame was noised abroad because of his strength of body and his skill in wrestling, and because he was wont to put to death all strangers whom he had defeated in wrestling, and grappling with him Heracles slew the giant. Following up this great deed he subdued Libya, which was full of wild animals, and large parts of the adjoining desert, and brought it all under cultivation, so that the whole land was filled with ploughed fields and such plantings in general as bear fruit, much of it being devoted to vineyards and much to olive orchards; and, speaking generally, Libya, which before that time had been uninhabitable because of the multitude of the wild beasts which infested the whole land, was brought under cultivation by him and made inferior to no other country in point of prosperity.
He likewise punished with death such men as defied the law or arrogant rulers and gave prosperity to the cities. And the myths relate that he hated every kind of wild beast and lawless men and warred upon them because of the fact that it had been his lot what while yet an infant the serpents made an attempt on his life, and that when he came to man’s estate he became subject to the power of an arrogant and unjust despot who laid upon him these Laboures.
HERACLES AND BUSIRIS
After Heracles had slain Antaeus he passed into Egypt and put to death Busiris, the king of the land, who made it his practice to kill the strangers who visited that country. Then he made his way through the waterless part of Libya, and coming upon a land which was well watered and fruitful he founded a city of marvelous size, which was called Hecatompylon, giving it this name because of the multitude of its gates. And the prosperity of this city continued until comparatively recent times, when the Carthaginians made an expedition against it with notable forces under the command of able generals and made themselves its masters.
HERACLES AND GERYON
And after Heracles had visited a large part of Libya he arrived at the ocean near Gadeira, where he set up pillars on each of the two continents. His fleet accompanied him along the coast and on it he crossed over into Iberia. And finding there the sons of Chrysaor encamped at some distance from one another with three great armies, he challenged each of the leaders to single combat and slew them all, and then after subduing Iberia he drove off the celebrated herds of cattle.
He then traversed the country of the Iberians, and since he had received honours at the hands of a certain king of the natives, a man who excelled in piety and justice, he left with the king a portion of the cattle as a present. The king accepted them, but dedicated them all to Heracles and made a practice each year to sacrifice to Heracles the fairest bull of the herd; and it came to pass that the kine are still maintained in Iberia and continue to be sacred to Heracles down to our own time.
THE PILLARS OF HERACLES
But since we have mentioned the pillars of Heracles, we deem it to be appropriate to set forth the facts concerning them. When Heracles arrived at the farthest points of the continents of Libya and Europe which lie upon the ocean, he decided to set up these pillars to commemorate his campaign.
And since he wished to leave upon the ocean a monument which would be had in everlasting remembrance, he built out both the promontories, they say, to a great distance; consequently, whereas before that time a great space had stood between them, he now narrowed the passage, in order that by making it shallow and narrow he might prevent the great sea-monsters from passing out of the ocean into the inner sea, and that at the same time the fame of their builder might be held in everlasting remembrance by reason of the magnitude of the structures. Some authorities, however, say just the opposite, namely, that the two continents were originally joined and that he cult a passage between them, and that by opening the passage he brought it about that the ocean was mingled with our sea. On this question, however, it will be possible for everyman to think as he may please.
HERACLES, VALE OF TEMPE & LAKE COPAIS
A thing very much like this he had already done in Greece. For instance, in the region which is called Tempê, where the country is like a plain and was largely covered with marshes, he cut a channel through the territory which bordered on it, and carrying off through this ditch all the water of the marsh he caused the plains to appear which are no in Thessaly along the Peneius river.
But in Boeotia he did just the opposite and damming the stream which flowed near the Minyan city of Orchomenus he turned the country into a lake and caused the ruin of that whole region. But what he did in Thessaly was to confer a benefit upon the Greeks, whereas Boeotia he was exacting punishment from those who dwelt in Minyan territory, because they had enslaved the Thebans.
HERACLES IN CELTICA
Heracles, then, delivered over the kingdom of the Iberians to the noblest men among the natives and, on his part, took his army and passing into Celtica and traversing the length and breadth of it he put an end to the lawlessness and murdering of strangers to which the people had become addicted; and since a great multitude of men from every tribe flocked to his army of their own accord, he founded a great city which was named Alesia after the “wandering” (alê) on his campaign.
But he also mingled among the citizens of the city many natives, and since these surpassed the others in multitude, it came to pass that the inhabitants as a whole were barbarized. The Celts up to the present time hold this city in honour, looking upon it as the hearth and mother-city of all Celtica. And for the entire period from the days of Heracles this city remained free and was never sacked until our own time; but at last Gaius Caesar, who had been pronounced a god because of the magnitude of his deeds, took it by storm and made it and the other Celts subjects of the Romans.
HERACLES IN THE ALPS
Heracles then made his way from Celtica to Italy, and as he traversed the mountain pass through the Alps he made a highway out of the route, which was rough and almost impassable, with the result that it can now be crossed by armies and baggage-trains.
The barbarians who inhabited this mountain region had been accustomed to butcher and to plunder such armies as passed though when they came to the difficult portions of the way, but he subdued them all, slew those that were the leaders in lawlessness of this kind, and made the journey safe for succeeding generations. And after crossing the Alps he passed through the level plain of what is now called Galatia and made his way through Liguria.
The Ligurians who dwell in this land possess a soil which is stony and altogether wretched, and, in return for the labours and exceedingly great hardships of the natives, produces only scanty crops which are wrung from it. Consequently the inhabitants are of small bulk and are kept vigorous by their constant exercise; for since they are far removed from the care-free life which accompanies luxury, they are light in their movements and excel in vigour when it comes to contest of war.
In general, the inhabitants of the region round about are inured to continuous work, and since the land required much labour for its cultivation, the Ligurians have become accustomed to require the women to share in the hardships which the cultivation involves. And since both the men and the women work side by side for hire, it came to pass that a strange and surprising thing took place in our day in connection with a certain woman.
She was with child, and while working for hire in company with the men she was seized by labour-pains in the midst of her work and quietly withdrew into a thicket; here she gave birth to the child, and then, after covering it with leaves, she hid the babe there and herself rejoined the labourers, continuing to endure the same hardship as that in which they were engaged and giving no hint of what had happened. And when the babe wailed and the occurrence became known, the overseer could in no wise persuade her to stop her work; and indeed she did not desist from the hardship until her employer took pity upon her, paid her the wages due her, and set her free from work.
HERACLES IN LATIUM
After Heracles had passed through the lands of the Ligurians and of the Tyrrhenians he came to the river Tiber and pitched his camp at the site where Rome now stands. But this city was founded many generations afterwards by Romulus, the son of Ares, and at this time certain people of the vicinity had their homes on the Palatine Hill, as it is now called, and formed an altogether inconsiderable city.
Here some of the notable men, among them Cacius and Pinarius, welcomed Heracles with marked acts of hospitality and honoured him with pleasing gifts; and memorials of these men abide in Rome to the present day. For, of the nobles of our time, the gens which bears the name Pinarii still exits among the Romans, being regarded as very ancient, and as for Cacius, thee is a passage on the Palatine which leads downward, furnished with a stairway of stone, and is called after him the “Steps of Cacius,” and it lies near the original house of Cacius.
Now Heracles received with favour the good-will shown him by the dwellers on the Palatine and foretold to them that, after he had passed into the circle of the gods, it would come to pass that whatever men should make a vow to dedicate to Heracles a tithe of their goods would lead a more happy and prosperous life. And in fact this custom did arise in later times and has persisted to our own day.
For many Romans, and not only those of moderate fortunes but some even of great wealth, who have taken a vow to dedicate a tenth to Heracles and have thereafter become happy and prosperous, have presented him with a tenth of their possessions, which came to four thousand talents. Lucullus, for instance, who was perhaps the wealthiest Roman of his day, had his estate appraised and then offered a full tenth of it to the god, thus providing continuous feastings and expensive ones withal. Furthermore, the Romans have built to this god a notable temple on the bank of the Tiber, with the purpose of performing in it the sacrifices from the proceeds of the tithe.
Heracles then moved on from the Tiber, and as he passed down the coast of what now bears the name of Italy he came to the Cumaean Plain. Here, the myths relate, there were men of outstanding strength the fame of whom had gone abroad for lawlessness and they were called Giants. This plain was called Phlegraean (“fiery”) from the mountain which of old spouted forth a huge fire as Aetna did in Sicily; at this time, however, the mountain is called Vesuvius and shows many signs of the fire which one raged in those ancient times.
HERACLES & THE GIANTS OF PHLEGRA
Now the Giants, according to the account, on learning that Heracles was at hand, gathered in full force and drew themselves up in battle-order against him. The struggle which took place was a wonderful one, in view of both the strength and the courage of the Giants, but Heracles, they say, with the help of the gods who fought on his side, gained the upper hand in the battle, slew most of the Giants, and brought the land under cultivation.
The myths record that the Giants were son of the earth because of the exceedingly great size of their bodies. With regard, then, to the Giants who wee slain in Phlegra, this is the account of certain writers of myths, who have been followed by the historian Timaeus also.
HERACLES IN SOUTHERN ITALY
From the Phlegraean Plain Heracles went down to the sea, where he constructed works about the lake which bears the name Lake of Avernus and is held sacred to Persephonê. Now this lake lies between Misenum and Dicaearcheia near the hot waters, and is about five stades in circumference and of incredible depth; for its water is very pure and has to the eye a dark blue colour because of its very great depth.
And the myths record that in ancient times there had been on its shores an oracle of the dead which, they say, was destroyed in later days. Lake Avernus once had an opening into the sea, but Heracles is said to have filled up the outlet and constructed he road which runs at this time along the sea and is called after him the “Way of Heracles.”
These, then, are the deeds of Heracles in the regions mentioned above. And moving on from there he came to a certain rock in the country of the people of Poseidonia, where the myths relate that a peculiar and marvelous thing once took place. There was, that is, among the natives of the region a certain hunter, the fame of whom had gone abroad because of his brave exploits in hunting. On former occasions it had been his practice to dedicate to Artemis the heads and feet of the animals he secured and to nail them to the trees, but once, when he had overpowered a huge wild boar, he said, as though in contempt of the goddess, “The head of the beast I dedicate to myself,” and bearing out his words he hung the head on a tree, and then, the atmosphere being very warm, at midday he fell asleep. And while he was thus asleep the thong broke, and the head fell down of itself upon the sleeper and killed him.
And in truth there is no reason why anyone should marvel at this happening, for many actual occurrences are recorded which illustrate the vengeance this goddess takes upon the impious.
But in the case of Heracles his piety was such that the opposite happened to him. For when he had arrived at the border between Rheginê and Locris and lay down to rest after his wearying journey, they say that he was disturbed by the crickets and that he prayed to the gods that the creatures which were disturbing him might disappear; whereupon the gods granted his petition, and no only did his prayer cause the insects to disappear for the moment, but in all late times as well not a cricket has ever been seen in the land.
When Heracles arrived at the strait where the sea is narrowest, he had the cattle taken over into Sicily, but as for himself, he took hold of the horn of a bull and swam across the passage, the distance between the shores being thirteen stades, as Timaeus says.
HERACLES AND ERYX
Upon his arrival in Sicily Heracles desired to make the circuit of the entire island and so set out from Pelorias in the direction of Eryx. While passing along the coast of the island, the myths relate, the Nymphs caused warm baths to gush forth so that he might refresh himself after the toil sustained in journeying. There are two of these, called respectively Himeraea and Egestaea, each of them having its name from the place where the baths are.
As Heracles approached the region of Eryx, who was the son of Aphroditê and Butas, who was then king of that country. The contest of the rivals carried with it a penalty, whereby Eryx was to surrender his land and Heracles the cattle. Now at first Eryx was displeased at such terms, maintaining that the cattle were of far less value as compared to the land; but when Heracles in answer to his arguments showed that if he lost the cattle he would likewise lose his immortality, Eryx agreed to the terms, and wrestling with him was defeated and lost his land.
Heracles turned the land over to the natives of the region, agreeing with them that they should gather the fruits of it until one of his descendants should appear among them and demand it back; and this actually came to pass. For in fact many generations later Dorieus the Lacedaemonian came to Sicily, and taking back the land founded the city of Heracleia. Since the city grew rapidly, the Carthaginians, being jealous of it and also afraid that it would grow stronger than Carthage and take from the Phoenicians their sovereignty, came up against it with a great army, took it by storm, and razed it to the ground. But this affair we shall discuss in detail in connection with the period in which it falls.
HERACLES IN SICILY
While Heracles was making the circuit of Sicily at this time he came to the city which is now Syracuse, and on learning what the myth relates about the R*pe of Kore he offered sacrifices to the goddesses on a magnificent scale, and after dedicating to her the fairest bull of his heard and casting it in the spring Cyanê he commanded the natives to sacrifice each year to Corê and to conduct at Cyanê a festive gathering and a sacrifice in splendid fashion.
He then passed with his cattle through the interior of the island, when the native Sicani opposed him in great force, he overcame them in a notable battle and slew many of their number, among whom, certain writers of myths relate, were also some distinguished generals who receive the honours accorded to heroes even to this day, such as Leucaspis, Pediacrates, Buphonas, Glychatas, Bytaeas, and Crytidas.
CULT OF HERACLES IN AGYRIUM
After this Heracles, as he passed through the plain of Leontini, marveled at the beauty of the land, and to show his affection for the men who honoured him he left behind him there imperishable memorials of his presence. And it came to pass that a peculiar thing took place near the city of Agyrium. Here he was honoured on equal terms with the Olympian gods by festivals and splendid sacrifices, and though before this time he had accepted no sacrifice, he then gave his consent for the first time, since the deity was giving intimations to him of his coming immortality.
For instance, there was a road not far from the city which was all of rock, and yet the cattle left their tracks in it as if in a waxy substance. Since, then, this same thing happened in case of Heracles as well and his tenth Labour was likewise coming to an end, he considered that he was already to a degree participating in immortality and so accepted the annual sacrifices which were offered him by the people of the city.
Consequently, as a mark of his gratitude to the people who had found favour with him, he built before the city a lake, four stades in circumference, which he ordained should be called by his name; and he likewise gave his name to the moulds of the tracks which the cattle had left in the rock and dedicated to the hero Geryones a sacred precint which is honoured to this day by the people of that region.
To Iolaüs, his nephew, who was his companion on the expedition, he likewise dedicated a notable sacred precinct, and ordained that annual honours and sacrifices should be offered to him, as is done even to this day; for all the inhabitants of this city let the hair of their heads grow from their birth in honour of Iolaüs, until they have obtained good omens in costly sacrifices and have rendered the god propitious.
And such a holiness and majesty pervade the sacred precinct that he boys who fail to perform the customary rites lose their power of speech and become like dead men. But so soon as anyone of them who is suffering from this malady takes a vow that he will pay the sacrifice and vouchsafes to the god a pledge to that effect, at once, they say, he is restored to health.
Now the inhabitants, in pursuance of these rites, call the gate, at which they come into the presence of the god and offer him these sacrifices, “The Heracleian,” and every year with the utmost zeal they hold games which include gymnastic contests and horse-races. And since the whole populace, both free men and slaves, unite in approbation of the god, they have commanded their servants, as they do honour to him apart from the rest, to gather in bands and when they come together to hold banquets and perform sacrifices to the god.
HERACLES, LACINIUS AND CROTON
Heracles then crossed over into Italy with the cattle and proceeded along the coast; thee he slew Lacinius as he was attempting to steal some of the cattle, and to Croton, whom he killed by accident, he accorded a magnificent funeral and erected for him a tomb; and he foretold to the natives of the place that also in after times a famous city would arise which should bear the name of the man who had died.
HERACLES LABOUR 11: CERBERUS
But when Heracles had made the circuit of the Adriatic, and had journeyed around the gulf on foot, he came to Epirus, whence he made his way to Peloponnesus. And now that he had performed the tenth Labour he received a Command from Eurystheus to bring Cerberus up from Hades to the light of day. And assuming that it would be to his advantage for the accomplishment of this Labour, he went to Athens and took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Musaeus, the son of Orpheus, being at that time in charge of the initiatory rites.
Since we have mentioned Orpheus it will not be inappropriate for us in passing to speak briefly about him. He was the son of Oeagrus, a Thracian by birth, and in culture and son-music and poesy he far surpassed all men of whom we have a record; for he composed a poem which was an object of wonder and excelled in its melody when it was sung. And his fame grew to such a degree that men believed that with his music he held a spell over both the wild beasts and the trees.
And after he had devoted his entire time to his education and had learned whatever the myths had to say about the gods, he journeyed to Egypt, where he further increased his knowledge and so became the greatest man among the Greeks both fro his knowledge of the gods and for their rites, as well as for his poems and songs.
He also took part in the expedition of the Argonauts, and because of the love held for his wife he dared the amazing deed of descending into Hades, where he entranced Persephonê by his melodious song and persuaded her to assist him in his desires and to allow him to bring up his dead wife from Hades, in this exploit resembling Dionysus; for the myths relate that Dionysus brought up his mother Semelê from Hades, and that, sharing with her his own immortality, he changed her name to Thyonê. But now that we have discussed Orpheus, we shall return to Heracles.
HERACLES LABOUR 11: CERBERUS
Heracles, then, according to the myths which have come down to us, descended into the realm of Hades, and being welcomed like a brother by Persephonê brought Theseus and Peirithoüs back to the upper world after freeing them from their bonds. This he accomplished by the favour of Persephonê, and receiving the dog Cerberus in chains he carried him away to the amazement of all and exhibited him to men.
HERACLES LABOUR 12: APPLES OF HESPERIDES
The last Labour which Heracles undertook was the bringing back of the golden apples of the Hesperides, and so he again sailed to Libya. With regard to these apples there is disagreement among the writers of myths, and some say that there were golden apples in certain gardens of the Hesperides in Libya, where they were guarded without ceasing by a most formidable dragon, whereas others assert that the Hesperides possessed flocks of sheep which excelled in beauty and were therefore called for their beauty, as the poets might do, “Golden apples,” just as Aphroditê is called “golden” because of her loveliness.
There are some, however, who say that it was because the sheep had a peculiar colour like gold that they god this designation, and that Dracon (“dragon”) was the name of the shepherd of the sheep, a man who excelled in strength of body and courage, who guarded the sheep and slew any who might dare try to carry them off. But with regard to such matters it will be every man’s privilege to form such opinions as accord with his own belief.
At any rate Heracles slew the guardian of the apples, and after he had duly brought them to Eurystheus and had in this wise finished his Labours he waited to receive the gift of immortality, even as Apollo had prophesied to him.
ATLAS AND THE HESPERIDES
But we must not fail to mention what the myths relate about Atlas and about the race of the Hesperides. The account runs like this: In the country known as Hesperitis there were two brothers whose fame was known abroad, Hesperus and Atlas. Thse brothers possessed flocks of sheep which excelled in beauty and were in colour of a golden yellow, this being the reason why the poets, in speaking of these sheep as mela, called them golden mela.
Now Hesperus begat a daughter named Hesperis, whom he gave in marriage to his brother and after whom the land was given the name Hesperitis; and Atlas begat by her seven daughters, who were named after their father Atlantides, and after their mother, Hesperides. And since these Atlantides excelled in beauty and chastity, Busiris the king of the Egyptians, the account says, was seized with the desire to get the maidens into his power; and consequently he dispatched pirates by sea with orders to seize the girls and deliver them into his hands.
About this time Heracles, while engaged in the performance of his last Labour, slew in Libya Antaeus, who was compelling all strangers to wrestle with him, and upon Busiris in Egypt, who was sacrificing to Zeus the strangers who visited his country, he inflicted the punishment which he deserved. After this Heracles sailed up the Nile into Ethiopia, where he slew Emathion, the king of the Ethiopians, who had made battle with him unprovoked, and then returned to the completion of his last Labour.
Meanwhile the pirates had seized the girls while they were playing in a certain garden and carried them off, and fleeing swiftly to their ships had sailed away with them. Heracles came upon the pirates as they were taking their meal on a certain strand, and learning from the maidens what had taken place he slew the pirates to a man and brought the girls back to Atlas their father; and in return Atlas was so grateful to Heracles for his kindly deed that he not only gladly gave him such assistance as his Labour called for, but he also instructed him quite freely in the knowledge of astrology.
For Atlas had worked out the science of astrology to a degree surpassing others had had ingeniously discovered the spherical nature of the stars, and for that reason was generally believed to be bearing the entire firmament upon his shoulders. Similarly in the case of Heracles, when he had brought to the Greeks the doctrine of the sphere, he gained great fame, as if he had taken over the burden of the firmament which Atlas had borne, wince men intimated in this enigmatic way what had actually taken place.
THESEUS AND THE AMAZONS
While Heracles was busied with the matters just described, the Amazons, they say, of whom there were some still left in the region of the Thermodon river, gathered in a body and set out to get revenge upon the Greeks for what Heracles had done in his campaign against them. They were especially eager to punish the Athenians because Theseus had made a slave of Antiopê, the leader of the Amazons, or, as others write, of Hippolytê.
The Scythians had joined forced with the Amazons, and so it came about that a notable army had been assembled, with which the leaders of the Amazons crossed the Cimmerian Bosporus and advanced through Thrace. Finally they traversed a large part of Europe and came to Attica, where they pitched their camp in what is at present called after them “the Amazoneum.”
When Theseus learned of the oncoming of the Amazons he came to thee aid of the forces of his citizens, bringing with him the Amazon Antiopê, by whom he already had a son Hippolytus. Theseus joined battle with the Amazons, and since the Athenians surpassed them in bravery, he gained the victory, and of the Amazons who opposed him, some he slew at the time and the rest he drove out of Attica.
And it came to pass that Antiopê, who was fighting at the side of her husband Theseus, distinguished herself in the battle and died fighting heroically. The Amazons who survived renounced their ancestral soil, and returned with the Scythians into Scythia and made their homes among that people. But se have spoken enough about he Amazons, and shall return to the deeds of Heracles.
HERACLES AND THE DAUGHTERS OF THESPIUS
After Heracles had performed his Labours, the god revealed to him that it would be well if, before he passed into the company of the gods, he should dispatch a colony to Sardinia and make the sons who had been born to him by the daughters of Thespius the leaders of the settlement, and so he decided to send his nephew Iolaüs with the boys, since they were still quite young.
Now it seems to us indispensable that we should speak first of the birth of the boys, in order that we may be able to set forth more clearly what is to be said about the colony.
Thespius was by birth a distinguished man of Athens and son of Erechtheus, and he was king of the land which bears his name and begot by his wives, of whom he had a great number, fifty daughters.
And when Heracles was still a boy, but already of extraordinary strength of body, the king strongly desired that his daughters should bear children by him. Consequently he invited Heracles to a sacrifice, and after entertaining him in brilliant fashion he sent his daughters one by one in to him; and Heracles lay with them all, brought them all with child, and so became the father of fifty sons. These son all took the same name after the daughters of Thespius, and when they had arrived at manhood Heracles decided to send them to Sardinia to found a colony, as the oracle had commanded.
IOLAUS & THE COLONY OF SARDINIA
And since the expedition was under the general command of Iolaüs, who had accompanied Heracles on practically all of his campaigns, the latter entrusted him with the care of the Thespiadae and the planting of the colony. Of the fifty boys, two continued to dwell in Thebes, their descendants, they say, being honoured even to the present day, and seven in Thespiae, where they are called demouchi, and where their descendants, they say, were the chief men of the city until recent times.
All the other Thespiadae and many more who wished to join the founding of the colony Iolaüs took with him and sailed away to Sardinia. Here he overcame the natives in battle and divided the fairest part of the island into allotments, especially the land which was a level plain and is called to this day Iolaeium.
When he had brought the land under cultivation and planted it with fruit-bearing trees he made of the island an object of contention; for instance, it gained such fame for the abundance of its fruits that at a later time the Carthaginians, when they had grown powerful, desired the island and faced many struggles and perils for possession of it. But we shall write of these matters in connection with the period to which they belong.
At the time we are considering, Iolaüs established the colony, and summoning Daedalus from Sicily he built though him many great works which stand to this day and are called “Daedaleia” after their builder. He also had large and expensive gymnasia constructed and established courts of justice and the other institutions which contribute to the prosperity of a state.
Furthermore, Iolaüs named the folk of the colony Iolaeis, calling them after himself, the Thespiadae consenting to this and granting to him this honour as to a father. In fact his regard for them led them to entertain such a kindly feeling towards him that they bestowed upon him as a title the appellation usually given to the progenitor of a people; consequently those who in later times offer sacrifices to this god address him as “Father Iolaüs,” as the Persians do when they address Cyrus.
After this Iolaüs, on his return to Greece, sailed over to Sicily and spent considerable time on that island. And at this time several of those who were visiting the island in his company remained in Sicily because of the beauty of the land, and uniting with the Sicani they settled in the island, being especially honoured by the natives. Iolaüs also received a great welcome, and since he conferred benefits upon many men he was honoured in many of the cities with sacred precincts and with such distinctions as are accorded to heroes.
And a peculiar and astonishing thing came to pass in connection with this colony in Sardinia. For the god had told them in an oracle that all who joined in this colony and their descendants should continually remain free men for evermore, and the vent in their case has continued to be in harmony with the oracle even to our own times.
For the people of the colony in the long course of time came to be barbarized, since the barbarians who took part in the colony about them outnumbered them, and so they removed into the mountainous part of the island and made their home in the rough and barren regions and there, accustoming themselves to live on milk and meat and raising large flocks and herds, they had no need of grain. They also built themselves underground dwellings, and by spending their lives in dug-out homes they avoided the perils which wars entail.
As a consequence both the Carthaginians in former days and the Romans later, despite the many wars which they waged with this people, did not attain their design.
As regards Iolaüs, then, and the Thespiadae and the colony which was sent ot Sardinia, we shall rest satisfied with what has been said, and we shall continue the story of Heracles from the point at which our account left off.
HERACLES, EURYTUS AND IOLE
After Heracles had completed his Labours he gave his own wife Megara in marriage to Iolaüs, being apprehensive of begetting any children by her because of the calamity which had befallen their other offspring, and sought another wife by whom he might have children without apprehension.
Consequently he wooed Iolê, the daughter of Eurytus who was ruler of Oechalia. But Eurytus was hesitant because of the ill fortune which had come in the case of Megara and replied that he would deliberate concerning the marriage. Since Heracles had met with a refusal to his suit, because of the dishonour which had been shown him he now drove off the mares of Eurytus.
HERACLES AND THE MURDER OF IPHITUS
But Iphitus, the son of Eurytus, harboured suspicion of what had been done and came to Tiryns in search of the horses, whereupon Heracles, taking him up on a lofty tower of the castle, asked him to see whether they were by chance grazing anywhere; and when Iphitus was unable to discover them, he claimed that Iphitus had falsely accused him of the theft and threw him down headlong from the tower.
Because of his murder of Iphitus Heracles was attacked by a disease, and coming to Neleus at Pylus he besought him to purify him of the blood-guilt. Thereupon Neleus took counsel with his sons and found that all of them, with the exception of Nestor who was the youngest, agreed in advising him that he should not undertake the rite of purification.
Heracles then went to Deïphobus, the son of Hippolytus, and prevailing upon him was given the rite of purification, but being still unable to rid himself of the disease he inquired of Apollo how to heal it. Apollo gave him the answer that he would easily rid himself of the disease if he should be sold as a slave and honourably pay over the purchase price of himself to the sons of Iphitus, and so, being now under constraint to obey the oracle, he sailed over to Asia with some of his friends. There he willingly submitted to be sold by one of his friends and became the slave of Omphalê, the daughter of Iardanus, who was still unmarried and was queen of the people who were called at that time Maeonians, but now Lydians.
HERACLES AND OMPHALE
The man who had sold Heracles paid over the purchase price to the son of Iphitus, as the oracle had commanded, and Heracles, healed now of the disease and serving Omphalê as her slave, began to mete out punishment upon the robbers who infested the land.
As for the Cercopes, for instance, as they are called, who were robbing and committing many evil acts, some of them he put to death and others he took captive and delivered in chains to Omphalê. Syleus, who was seizing any strangers who passed by and forcing them to hoe his vineyards, he slew by a blow with his own hoe; and from the Itoni, who had been plundering a large part of the land of Omphalê, he took away their booty, and the city which they had made the base of their raids was sacked, and enslaving its inhabitants razed it to the ground.
Omphalê was pleased with the courage Heracles displayed, and on learning who he was and who had been his parents she marveled at his valour, set him free, and marrying him bore him Lamus. Already before this, while he was yet a slave, there had been born to Heracles by a slave a son Cleodaeus.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST LAOMEDON
After this Heracles, returning to the Peloponnesus, made war against Ilium since he had a ground of complaint against its king, Laomedon. For when Heracles was on the expedition with Jason to get the golden fleece and had slain the sea-monster, Laomedon had withheld from him the mares which he had agreed to give him and of which we shall give a detailed account a little later in connection with the Argonauts.
At that time Heracles had not had the leisure, since he was engaged upon the expedition of Jason, but later he found an opportunity and made war upon Troy with eighteen ships of war, as some say, but, as Homer writes, with six in all, when he introduces Heracles’son Tlepolemus as saying:
Aye, what a man, they say, was Heracles in might, my father, he steadfast, with heart of lion, who once came here to carry off the mares of King Laomedon, with but six ships and scantier men, yet sacked he then the city of proud Ilium, and made her streets bereft.
When Heracles, then, had landed on the coast of the Troad, he advanced in person with his select troops against the city and left in command of the ships Oecles, the son of Amphiaraus. And since the presence of the enemy had not been expected, it proved impossible for Laomedon, on account of the exigencies of the moment, to collect a passable army, but gathering as many soldiers as he could he advanced with them against the ships, in the hope that if he could burn them he could bring an end to the war. Oecles came out to meet him, but when he, the general, fell, the rest succeeded in making good their flight to the ships and in putting out to sea from the land.
Laomedon then withdrew and joining combat with the troops of Heracles near the city he was slain himself and most of the soldiers with him. Heracles then took the city by storm and after slaughtering many of its inhabitants in the action he gave the kingdom of the Iliadae to Priam because of his sense of justice.
For Priam was the only one of the sons of Laomedon who had opposed his father and had counseled him to give the mares back to Heracles, as he had promised to do. And Heracles crowned Telamon with the meed of valour by bestowing upon him Hesionê the daughter of Laomedon, for in the siege he had been the first to force his way into the city, while Heracles was assaulting the strongest section of the wall of the acropolis.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST AEGEAS
After his Heracles returned to the Peloponnesus and set out against Aegeas, since the latter had defrauded him of his reward. It came to a battle between him and the Eleans, but on this occasion he had no success and so returned to Olenus to Dexamenus. The latter’s daughter Hippolytê was being joined in marriage to Azan, and when Heracles, as he sat at the wedding feast, observed the Centaur Eurytion acting in an insulting manner towards Hippolytê and endeavouring to do violence to her, he slew him.
When Heracles returned to Tiryns, Eurystheus charged him with plotting to seize the kingdom and commanded that he and Alcmenê and Iphicles and Iolaüs should depart from Tiryns. Consequently he was forced to go into exile along with these just mentioned and made his dwelling in Pheneus in Arcadia.
This city he took for his headquarters, and learning once that a sacred procession had been sent forth from Elis to the Isthmus in honour of Poseidon and that Eurytus, the son of Augeas, was at the head of it, he fell unexpectedly upon Eurytus and killed him near Cleonae, where a temple of Heracles still stands.
After this he made war upon Elis and slew Augeas its king, and taking the city by storm he recalled Phyleus, the son of Augeas, and gave the kingdom into his hands; for the son had been exiled by his father at the time when he had served as arbitrator between his father and Heracles in the matter of the reward and had given the decision to Heracles.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST HIPPOCOON
After this Hippocoön exiled from Sparta his brother Tyndareüs, and the sons of Hippocoön, twenty in number, put to death Oeonus who was the son of Licymnius and a friend of Heracles; whereupon Heracles was angered and set out against them, and being victorious in a great battle he made a slaughter of every man of them. Then, taking Sparta by storm he restored Tyndareüs, who was the father of the Dioscori, to his kingdom and bestowed upon him the kingdom on the ground that it was his by right of war, commanding him to keep it safe for Heracles’ own descendants.
There fell in the battle but a very few comrades of Heracles, though among them were famous men, such as Iphiclus and Cepheus and seventeen sons of Cepheus, since only three of his twenty sons came out alive; whereas of the opponents Hippocoön himself fell, and ten sons along with him, and vast numbers of the rest of the Spartans.
HERACLES AND AUGE
From this campaign Heracles returned into Arcadia, and as he stopped at the home of Aleos the king he lay secretly with his daughter Augê, brought her with child, and went back to Stymphalus.
Aleos was ignorant of what had taken place, but when the bulk of the child in the womb betrayed the violation of his daughter he inquired who had violated her. And when Augê disclosed that it was Heracles who had done violence to her, he would not believe what she had said, but gave her into the hands of Nauplius his friend with orders to drown her in the sea.
But as Augê was being led off to Nauplia and was near Mount Parthenium, she felt herself overcome by the birth-pains and withdrew into a near-by thicket as if to perform a certain necessary act; here she gave birth to a male child, and hiding the babe in some bushes she left it there. After doing this Augê went back to Nauplius, and when she had arrived at the harbour of Nauplia in Argolis she was saved from death in an unexpected manner.
Nauplius, that is, decided not to drown her, as he had been ordered, but to make a gift of her to some Carians who were setting out for Asia; and these men took Augê to Asia and gave her to Teuthras the king of Mysia.
TELEPHUS & AUGE
As for the babe that had been left on Parthenium by Augê, certain herdsmen belonging to Corythus the king came upon it s it was getting its food from the teat of a hind and brought it as a gift to their master. Corythus received the child gladly, raised him as if he were his own son, and named him Telephus after the hind (elaphos) which had suckled it. After Telephus had come to manhood, being seized with the desire to learn who his mother was, he went to Delphi and received the reply to sail to Mysia to Teuthras the king.
Here he discovered his mother, and when it was known who his father was he received the heartiest welcome. And since Teuthras had no male children he joined his daughter Argiopê in marriage to Telephus and named him his successor to the kingdom.
HERACLES AND DEIANEIRA
In the fifth year after Heracles had changed his residence to Pheneus, being grieved over the death of Oeonus, the son of Licynmius, and of Iphiclus his brother, he removed of his free will from Arcadia and all Peloponnesus. There withdrew with him a great many people of Arcadia and he went to Calydon in Aetolia and made his home there. And since he had neither legitimate children nor a lawful wife, he married Deïaneira, the daughter of Oeneus, Meleager being now dead. In this connection it would not, in our opinion, be inappropriate for us to digress briefly and to speak of the reversal of fortune which befell Meleager. MELEAGER AND THE CALYDONIAN BOAR
The facts are these: Once when Oeneus had an excellent crop of grain, he offered sacrifices to the other gods, but neglected Artemis alone; and angered at him for this the goddess sent forth against him the famous Calydonian boar, a creature of enormous size.
This animal harried the neighbouring land and damaged the farms; whereupon Meleager, the son of Oeneus, being then in the bloom of youth and excelling in strength and in courage, took along with himself many of the bravest men and set out to hunt the beast. Meleager was the first to plunge his javelin into it and by general agreement was accorded the reward of valour, which consisted of the skin of the animal.
But Atalantê, the daughter of Schoeneus, participated in the hunt, and since Meleager was enamoured of her, he relinquished in her favour the skin and the praise for the greatest bravery. The son of Thestius, however, who had also joined in the hunt, were angered at what he had done, since he had honoured a stranger woman above them and set kinship aside. Consequently, setting at naught the award which Meleager had made, they lay in wait for Atalantê, and falling upon her as she returned to Arcadia took from her the skin.
Meleager, however, was deeply incensed both because of the love which he bore Atalantê and because of the dishonour shown her; and when they paid no heed to him he slew them, although they were brothers of Althaea. Consequently Althaea, overcome with anguish at the slaying of the men of her own blood, uttered a curse in which she demanded the death of Meleager; and the immortals, so the account runs, gave heed to her and made an end of his life.
But certain writers of myths give the following account:- At the time of the birth of Meleager the Fates stood over Althaea in her sleep and said to her that her son Meleager would die at the moment when the brand in the fire had been consumed. Consequently, when she had given birth, she believed that the safety of her child depended upon the preservation of the brand and so she guarded the brand with every care.
Afterward, however, being deeply incensed at the murder of her brothers, she burned the brand and so made herself the cause of the death of Meleager; but as time went on she grieved more and more over what she had done and finally made an end of her life by hanging.
At the time that these things were taking place, the myth continues, Hipponoüs in Olenus, angered at his daughter Periboaea because she claimed that she was with child by Ares, sent her away into Aetolia to Oeneus with orders for him do away with her at the first opportunity.
Oeneus, however, who had recently lost his son and wife, was unwilling to slay Periboea, but married her instead and begat a son Tydeus. Such, then, is the way the story runs of Meleager and Althaea and Oeneus.
HERACLES AND THE RIVER ACHELOÜS
But Heracles, desiring to do a service to the Calydonians, diverted the river Acheloüs, and making another bed for it he recovered a large amount of fruitful land and which was now irrigated by this stream.
Consequently certain poets, as we are told, have made this deed into a myth; for they have introduced Heracles as joining battle with Acheloüs, the river assuming the form of a bull, and as breaking off in the struggle one of his horns, which he gave to the Aetolians. This they call the “Horn of Amaltheia,” and represent it as filled with a great quantity of every kind of autumn fruit, such as grapes and apples and the like, the poets signifying in this obscure manner by the horn of Acheloüs the stream which ran through the canal, and by the apples and pomegranates and grapes the fruitful land which was watered by the river and the multitude of its fruit-bearing plants. Moreover, they say that the phrase “Amaltheia’s Horn” is used as of a quality incapable of being softened (a-malakistia), whereby is indicated the tense vigour of the man who built he work.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST PHYLEUS
Heracles took the field with the Calydonians against the Thesprotians, captured the city of Ephyra by storm, and slew Phyleus the king of the Thesprotians. And taking prisoner the daughter of Phyleus he lay with her and begat Tlepolemus. HERACLES AND NESSUS
Three years after his marriage to Deïaneira Heracles was dining in the home of Oeneus and Eurynomus, and the son of Architeles, who was still lad in years, was serving him, and when the boy made some slip in the service Heracles gave him a blow with his fist, and striking him too hard he unintentionally killed the lad.
Overcome with grief at this misfortune he went again into voluntary exile from Calydonia along with his wife Deïaneira and Hyllus, his son by her, who was still a boy in years. And when in his journeying he arrived at the Euenus river he found there the Centaur Nessus who was conveying travellers across the river for a fee.
Nessus carried Deïaneira across first, and becoming enamoured of her because of her beauty he tried to assault her. But when she called to her husband for help Heracles shot the Centaur with an arrow, and Nessus, struck even while he was having intercourse with her and because of the sharpness of the blow being at once on the point of death, told Deïaneira that he would give her a love-charm to the end that Heracles should never desire to approach any other woman.
He urged her, accordingly, to take the seed which had fallen from him and, mixing ti with olive oil and the blood which was dripping from the barb of the arrow, to anoint with this the shirt of Heracles. This counsel, then Nessus gave Deïaneira and at once breathed his last. And she put the seed, as Nessus had enjoined upon her, into a jar and dipped in it the barb of the arrow and kept it all unknown to Heracles. And he, after crossing the river, came to Ceÿx, the king of Trachis, and made his dwelling with him having with him the Arcadians who always accompanied him on his campaigns.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST PHYLAS AND THE DRYOPES
After this, when Phylas, the king of the Dryopes, had in the eyes of men committed an act of impiety against the temple of Delphi, Heracles took the field against him in company with the inhabitants of Melis, slew the king of the Dryopes, drove the rest of them out of the land, and gave it to the people of Melis; and the daughter of Phylas he took captive and lying with her begat a son Antiochus.
By Deïaneira he became the father of two sons, younger than Hyllus, Gleneus and Hodites. Of the Dryopes who had been driven from their land some passed over into Euboea and founded there the city Carystus, others sailed to the island of Cyprus, where they mixed with the natives of the island and made their home, while the rest of the Dryopes took refuge with Eurystheus and won his aid because of the enmity which he bore to Heracles; and with the aid of Eurystheus they founded three cities in Peloponnesus, Ainê, Hermionê, and Eïon.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST CORONUS AND THE LAPITHS
After the removal of the Dryopes from their land a war arose between the Dorieis who inhabit the land called Hestiaeotis, whose king was Aegimius, and the Lapithae dwelling about Mount Olympus, whose king was Coronus, the son of Caeneus. And since the Lapithae greatly excelled in the number of their forces, the Dorieis turned to Heracles for aid and implored him to join with them, promising him a third part of the land of Doris and of the kingship, and when they had won him over they made common cause in the campaign against the Lapithae. Heracles had with him the Arcadians who accompanied him on his campaigns, and mastering the Lapithae with their aid he slew king Coronus himself, and massacring most of the rest he compelled them to withdraw form the land which was in dispute.
HERACLES, CYCNUS AND WAR AGAINST ORMENIUS
After accomplishing these deeds he entrusted to Aegimius the third part of the land, which was his share, with orders that he keep it in trust in favour of Heracles’ descendants. He now returned to Trachis, and upon being challenged to combat by Cycnus, the son of Ares, he slew the man; and as he was leaving the territory of Itonus and was making his way through Pelasgiotis he fell in with Ormenius the king and asked him the hand of his daughter Astydameia. When Ormenius refused him because he already had for lawful wife Deïaneira, the daughter of Oeneus, Heracles took the field against him, captured his city, and slew the king who would not obey him, and taking captive Astydameia he lay with her and begat a son Ctesippus.
HERACLES WAR AGAINST EURYTUS
After finishing this exploit he set out to Oechalia to take the field against the sons of Eurytus because he had been refused in his suit for the hand of Iolê. The Arcadians again fought on his side and he captured the city and slew the sons of Eurytus, who were Toxeus, Molion, and Clytius. And taking Iolê captive he departed from Euboea to the promontory which is called Cenaeum.
DEATH OF HERACLES
At Cenaeon Heracles, wishing to perform a sacrifice, dispatched his attendant Lichas to Deïaneira his wife, commanding him to ask her for the shirt and robe which he customarily wore in the celebration of sacrifices. But when Deïaneira learned from Lichas of the love which Heracles had for Iolê, she wished him to have a greater affection for herself and so anointed the shirt with the love-charm which had been given her by the Centaur, whose intention was to bring about the death of Heracles.
Lichas, then, in ignorance of these matters, brought back the garments for the sacrifice; and Heracles put on the shirt which had been anointed, and as the strength of the toxic drug began slowly to work he met with the most terrible calamity. For the arrow’s barb had carried the poison of the adder, and when the shirt for this reason, as it became heated, attacked the flesh of the body, Heracles was seized with such anguish that he slew Lichas, who had been his servant, and then, disbanding his army, returned to Trachis.
As Heracles continued to suffer more and more from his malady he dispatched Licymnius and Iolaüs to Delphi to inquire of Apollo what he must do to heal the malady, but Deïaneira was so stricken by the magnitude of Heracles’ misfortune that, being conscious of her error, she ended her life by hanging herself. The god gave the reply that Heracles should be taken, and with him his armour and weapons of war, unto Oetê and that they should build a huge pyre near him; what remained to be done, he said, would rest with Zeus.
Now when Iolaüs had carried out these orders and had withdrawn to a distance to see what would take place, Heracles, having abandoned hope for himself, ascended the pyre and asked each one who came up to him too put torch to the pyre. And when no one had courage to obey him Philoctetes alone was prevailed upon; and he, having received in return for his compliance the gift of the blow and arrows of Heracles, lighted the pyre. And immediately lightning also fell from the heavens and the pyre was wholly consumed.
After this, when the companions of Iolaüs came to gather up the bones of Heracles and found not a single bone anywhere, they assumed that, in accordance with the words of the oracle, he had passed from among men into the company of the gods.
These men, therefore, performed the offerings to the dead as to a hero, and after throwing up a great mound of earth returned to Trachis. Following their example Menoetius, the son of Actor and a friend of Heracles, sacrificed a boar and a bull and a ram to him as to a hero and commanded that each year in Opus Heracles should receive the sacrifices and honours of a hero. Much the same thing was likewise done by the Thebans, but the Athenians were the first of all other men to honour Heracles with sacrifices like as to a god, and by holding up as an example for all other men to follow their own reverence for the god they induced the Greeks first of all, and after them all men throughout the inhabited world, to honour Heracles as a god.
HERACLES ON OLYMPUS
We should add to what has been said about Heracles, that after his apotheosis Zeus persuaded Hera to adopt him s her son and henceforth for all time to cherish him with a mother’s love, and this adoption, they say, took place in the following manner. Hera lay upon a bed, and drawing Heracles close to her body then let him fall through her garments to the ground, imitating in this way the actual birth; and this ceremony is observed to this day by the barbarians whenever they wish to adopt a son.
Hera, the myths relate, after she had adopted Heracles in this fashion, joined him in marriage to Hebê, regarding hom the poet speaks in the “Necyïa”:
I saw the shade of Heracles, but for himself he takes delight of feasts among Th’ immortal gods and for his wife he hath the shapely-ankled Hebê.
They report of Heracles further that Zeus enrolled him among the twelve gods but that he would not accept this honour; for it was impossible for him thus to be enrolled unless one of the twelve gods were first cast out; hence in his eyes it would be monstrous for him to accept an honour which involved depriving another god of his honour.
Now on the subject of Heracles if we have dwelt over-long, we have at least omitted nothing from the myths which are related concerning him.
Source: Diodorus Siculus. Library of History (Books III - VIII). Translated by Oldfather, C. H. Loeb Classical Library Volumes 303 and 340. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1935.