The Ancient Library

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On this page: Heracles (continued)



Heracles. The hero returns with the cattle through Iberia, Gaul, Liguria, Italy, and Sicily, meeting everywhere with new ad­ventures, and leaving behind him tokens of his presence. At the mouth of the Rhone he had a dreadful struggle with the Llgyes; his arrows were exhausted, and he had sunk in weariness upon his knee, when Zeus rained a shower of innumerable stones from heaven, with which he pre­vailed over his enemies. The place was ever after a stony desert plain (see further cacus and eryx). Heracles had made the circuit of the Adriatic and was just nearing Greece, when Hera sent a gadfly and scattered the herd. With much toil he wandered through the mountains of Thrace as far as the Hellespont, but then only succeeded in getting together a part of the cattle. After a dangerous adventure with the Giant Alcyoneus, he succeeded at length in returning to Mycenae, where Eurystheus offered up the cattle to Hera (see alcyoneus). (11) The golden apples of the Hespgrldgs (see hesperides). Heracles is ignorant where the gardens of the Hes-perides are to be found in which the apples grow. He accordingly repairs to the Nymphs who dwell by the Erldanus, on whose counsel he surprises Nereus, the omniscient god of the sea, and compels him to give an answer. On this he journeys through Libya, Egypt, and Ethiopia, where he slays Antaeus, Buslris, and Emathlon (see under these names). He then crosses to Asia, passes through the Caucasus, where he sets PrSmetheus free, and on through the land of the HyperbSrfians till he finds Atlas. Following the counsel of Prometheus, he sends Atlas to bring the apples, and in his absence bears the heavens for him on his shoulders. Atlas returns with them, but declines to take his burden upon his shoulders again, promising to carry the apples to Eurystheus himself. Heracles consents, and asks Atlas to take the burden only a moment, while he adjusts a cushion for his head; he then hurries off with his prize. Another account represents Heracles as slaying the serpent Ladon, who guards the tree, and plucking the apples himself. Eurystheus presents him with the : apples; he dedicates them to Athene, who restores them to their place. (12) He brings the dog Cerberus up from the lower world. This is the heaviest task of all. Conducted by Hermes and Athene, he de­scends into Hades at the promontory of Tsenarum. In Hades he sets Theseus free,

and induces the prince of the infernal regions to let him take the dog to the realms of day, if only he can do so without using his weapons. Heracles binds the beast by the mere strength of arm, and carries him to Eurystheus, and takes him back again into Hades.

His task is now ended, and he returns to Thebes. Hia first wife, Mggara, he weds to his faithful friend lolaus, and then journeys into (Echalia1 to king Eurytus, whose daughter Isle he means to woo. The king's son Iphltus favours his suit, but Eurytus rejects it with contempt. Soon after this AutSlycus steals some of Eury­tus' cattle, and he accuses Heracles of the robbery. Meanwhile, Heracles has rescued Alcestis, the wife of Admetus, from death. Iphitus meets Heracles, begs him to help him in looking for the stolen cattle, and ac­companies him to Tiryns. Here, after hos­pitably entertaining him, Heracles throws him, in a fit of madness, from the battle­ments of his stronghold. A heavy sickness is sent on him for this murder, and Heracles prays to the god of Delphi to heal him. Apollo rejects him, whereupon Heracles attempts to carry away the tripod. A con­flict ensues, when Zeus parts the com­batants with his lightning. The oracle bids Heracles to hire himself out for three years for three talents, and pay the money to Eurytus. Hermes puts him into the service of Omphale, queen of Lydia, daughter of lardanus, and widow of Tmolus. Heracles is degraded to female drudgery, is clothed in soft raiment and set to spin wool, while the queen assumes the lion skin and the club. The time of service over, he under­takes an expedition of vengeance against Laomedon of Troy. He lands on the coast of the Troad with eighteen ships, manned by the boldest of heroes, such as TSlamon, Peleus, and O'icles. Laomedon succeeds in surprising the guard by the ships, and in slaying Oicles. But the city is stormed, Telamon being the first to climb the wall, and Laomedon, with all his sons except P5darces, is slain by the arrows of Heracles. (See priamus.) On his return Hera sends a tempest upon him. On the island of Cos he has a hard conflict to undergo with Eurytron, the son of PSseidOn, and his sons. Heracles is at first wounded and forced to fly, but prevails at length with the help of Zeus.

After this Athene summons the hero to

1 In Theasaly or Messenta; according to a later story, in Eubcea.

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