Mythology Monday: Hercules labors 4-6


Hercules’ next labor was to capture the Erymanthian Boar. The boar was a huge, violent creature that roamed the mountains and depending on the myth was responsible for the death of Adonis. Hercules traveled to the mountains, and on the way got a group of centaurs drunk. Things got out of hand, as drunken parties so often do, and Hercules ended up having to kill them all with his poisoned arrows.

One centaur, Chiron, could’t die because he was immortal. But the poisoned arrows still hurt, so in exchange for the pain of the arrows, he took Prometheus’ place as snack for the golden eagle. Herc killed the eagle with his arrows, so Chiron told him to trap the boar in a snow drift. It worked, and the boars tusks were put on display at a shrine of Apollo.

The next labor was simpler. Clean the Augean Stables in a day. Augeas was the King of Eliis, and he had more cattle than anyone in the whole word, but had NEVER cleaned his stables (30 years old, over 1,000 cattle, gross). That was bad, because in addition to being numerous, the cattle were also divinely heathy so they created a lot of manure. Herc was promised ten percent of the cattle if he succeeded.

Her rerouted two rivers and blasted the stables clean. Augeas didn’t deliver 10% of the cattle, so Herc killed him. But because the rivers did the work, and because he was paid, this labor was thrown out, which is part of the reason ten labors became 12.

Instead, Herc was sent to defeat the Stymphalian birds. These were man-eating birds with bronze beaks and sharp metallic feathers. They were also Ares’ pets. Even their poop was highly toxic. They had recently moved to a swamp in Arcadia to escape a pack of wolves, and were troubling a nearby town.

But the birds lived in a swamp. How could Herc get to them without sinking? Athena gave him a noisemaker he shook to frighten all the birds into the air, where they were shot at with…. you guessed it, poisoned arrows. They flew far away and became Jason’s problem, but that’s another story.

One thought on “Mythology Monday: Hercules labors 4-6

  1. Pingback: Adventures of Hercules Master Post | Kaitlin Bevis

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