The Ancient Library

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On this page: Heracles (continued)



the battle of the gods with the Giants, who are not to be vanquished without his aid. (See gigantes.) Then Heracles returns to the Peloponnese, and takes vengeance »n Augeas and on Neleus of Pylos, who had refused to purify him for the murder of Iphitus. (See augeas, molionid^e, neleus, and peridymencs.) In the battle with the Pylians he goes so far as to wound Hades, who had come up to their assistance. Hip-pScoon of Sparta and his numerous sons he slays in revenge for their murder of (Bonus, a son of his maternal uncle Licymnlus. In this contest his ally is king Cepheus of TSgSa, by whose sister Auge he is father of Telephus. Cepheus with his twenty sons are left dead on the field.

Heracles now wins to wife Deianira, the daughter of (Eueus of Calydon. (See achjslous.) He remains a long time with his father-in-law, and at length, with his wife and his son Hyllus, he passes on into Trachts, to the hospitality of his friend Ceyx. At the ford of the river Evenus he encounters the Centaur Nessus, who has the right of carrying travellers across. Nessus remains behind and at­tempts to do violence to Deiauira, and Heracles shoots him through with his poisoned arrows. The dying Centaur gives some of his infected blood to Deianira, tell­ing her that, should her husband be un­faithful, it will be a means of restoring him. Heracles has a stubborn contest with TheiSdamas, the king of the DrySpSs, kills him, and takes his son Hylas away. (See hylasj. He then reaches Trachis, and is received with the friendliest welcome by king Ceyx. From hence he starts to fight with Cycnus (see cycnus) ; and afterwards, at the request of ^Eglmlus, prince of the Dorians, undertakes a war against the Lapithse, and an expedition of revenge against Eurytus of (Echalia. (See above.) He storms the fortress, slays Eurytus with his sons, and carries off lole, who had formerly been denied him, as his prisoner. He is about to offer a sacrifice to his father Zeus on Mount Cenaeum, when Deianira, jealous of lole, sends him a robe stained : with the blood of Nessus. It has hardly ! grown warm upon his body, when the dreadful poison begins to devour his flesh. ; Wild with anguish, he hurls Llchas, who brought him the robe, into the sea, where he is changed into a tall cliff. In the at­tempt to tear off the robe, he only tears off pieces of his flesh. Apollo bids them take him to the top of (Eta, where he has a

j great funeral pyre built up for him. This he ascends; then he gives lole to his son Hyllus to be his wife, and bids Poaas, the father of Phlloctetes, to kindle the pyre. According to another story, it is Philoctetes himself, whom Heracles presents with his bow and poisoned arrows, who performs this office. The flames have hardly started up, when a cloud descends from the sky with thunder and lightning, and carries the son of Zeus up to heaven. Here he is welcomed as one of the immortals. Hera is reconciled to him, and he is wedded to her daughter Hebe, the goddess of eternal youth. Their children are Alexiares (Averter of the Curse) and Aniketos (the Invincible). The names merely personify two of the main qualities for which the hero was worshipped.

About the end of Heracles nothing is said in the Iliad but that he, the best-loved of Zeus' sons, did not escape death, but was overcome by fate, and by the heavy wrath of Hera. In the Odyssey his ghost, in form like black night, walks in the lower world with his bow bent and his arrows ready, while the hero himself dwells among | the immortals, the husband of Hebe. For j the lives of his children, and the end of Eurystheus, see hyllus.

Heracles was worshipped partly as a hero, to whom men brought the ordinary libations and offerings, and partly as an Olympian deity, an immortal among the immortals. Immediately after his apotheo­sis his friends offered sacrifice to him at the place of burning, and his worship spread from thence through all the tribes of Hellas. Diomus the son of Colyttus, an Athenian, is said to have been the first who paid him the honours of an immortal. It was he who founded the gymnasium called Cyn&sarggs, near the city. This gymnasium, the sanctuary at Marathon, and the temple at Athens, were the three most venerable shrines of Heracles in Attica. Diomus gave his name to the Diomeia, a merry festival held in Athens in honour of Heracles. Feasts to Heracles (Heracleia), with athletic contests, were celebrated in many places. He was the hero of labour and struggle, and the patron deity of the gymnasium and the palcestra. From early times he was regarded as having instituted the Olympic games; as the founder of the Olympic sanc­tuaries and the Olympic truce, the planter of the shady groves, and the first competitor and victor in the contests. During his earthly life he had been a helper of gods and men,

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