Labouring ON

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi  

Let’s continue with the labours of Hercules. This month, you will read about the third, fourth and fifth labours: the captures of the Ceryneian Hind and the Erymanthian boar and the cleaning of Augean stables.

But before we begin, let me tell you what a hind is. A hind is a female deer. The Ceryneian hind, which was Goddess Diana’s pet, had golden horns and bronze hooves. Hercules did not want to upset Diana, as he already had one Goddess against him. But the Delphi oracle had clearly told him that he had to obey Eurystheus’ commands. So he set off to Ceryneia to find the deer.

The deer led him on a merry chase for one whole year. Finally, it headed to the mountains of Artemisius. Hercules caught the deer near the Ladon and, on the way back, he met Diana. She was furious with him but Hercules explained the circumstances. Diana allowed him to take it to his cousin.

Two more down!

Eurystheus had hoped that Diana would curse or kill Hercules but, now that he was back, he asked him to capture the Erymanthian boar alive. The boar lived on the Erymanthus Mountain and would charge down the plains attacking human settlements and destroying farms. For a few days, Hercules chased the boar around the mountain and finally bundled it into a net and carried it off to Eurystheus, who was so scared when he saw it that he hid himself in a bronze jar. With that his fourth labour was over.

For the fifth labour, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean the stables of King Augeas in a day. Augeas owned more cattle, horses, sheep and goat than anyone else in Greece and his stable hands could not cope with the mess the animals created.

When Hercules reached Augeas’ court, however, he did not say anything about his cousin. He offered to clean out the stables in a single day if Augeas would give him one-tenth of his cattle. Augeas agreed but sent his son to watch over Hercules.

Hercules tore down part of the stable walls, dug trenches and diverted two rivers. The force of the water flowing through the stables cleaned them out. But when Augeas heard about Eurystheus, he refused to pay up. Hercules appealed to a judge and Augeas’ son stood as witness for Hercules. The angry father banished his son and Hercules returned to Eurystheus. The king, of course, was extremely jealous and angry at his cousin’s continued success and sent him off on another errand.

More about that later..

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:14:52 PM |

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