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Fourth labour- Erymanthian boar

The Erymanthian boar by Francisco de Zurbarán

Eurystheus, humiliated that the hind had escaped from right before him, sent Hercules on the next task of bringing back the Erymanthian boar alive. There are no definitive accounts of this labour though this is the most agreed upon version. On the way to Mt. Erymanthos, Hercules dunes and sups with his old friend Pholus. He was a centaur and Hercules convinces him to open the jar of wine left to the centaurs of the mountain my Dionysus. The aroma was so strong that t attracted all the centaurs of the mountain. Unknown to them, the wine was so strong that it should’ve been diluted. They drank the unadulterated wine and went berserk, attacking Hercules. Hercules shot at them with his poisonous arrows, sending them retreating all the way to Chiron’s cave. One version of the legend states that Pholus, curious as to why these arrows had killed several centaurs, picked an arrow up but dropped it on his foot, thus poisoning himself. Another version states that a stray arrow hit Chiron and poisoned him although he’s immortal. He felt immense pain, so great that he gave up his immortality and took the place of Prometheus who had his liver torn away by an eagle every morning. Hercules, seeing Chiron in such agony shot down the eagle, killing it. This labour also according to some, serves as the point for the transfer of immortality from Chiron to Hercules. Chiron then tells Hercules that in order to catch the boar, all he had to do was drive it into the deep snow. Hercules thus caught the boar, bound it and took it back to king Eurystheus.


Fifth labour- Augean stables

The Augean stables by Morgan Snell

This labour was to clean the stables of King Augeas. This was intended to be both humiliating and impossible for Hercules because the animals there were immortal and produced a huge amount of dung. The stables housed roughly a thousand cattle and it hadn’t been cleaned in almost 30 years. Hercules, confident that he could complete it in a day, asked the king for a tenth of his cattle if he succeeded in doing so. The king agreed to the bet, oblivious to what Hercules was capable of. Hercules redirected the rivers Alpheus and Peneus and succeeded in cleaning up the filth in less than a day. Augeas refused to honour the agreement on the grounds that it was King Eurystheus who’d given Hercules the task anyway. Hercules took the matter up in court and was supported by Phyleus, the king’s nephew. Augeas banished them both before the verdict of the court was out. Hercules returned to the kingdom, killed Augeas and handed over the kingdom to Phyleus. Also, according to the poet Pindar, Hercules founded the Olympic Games shortly thereafter.


Sixth Labour- Stymphalian birds

Hercules kills the Stymphalian birds by Albrecht Dürer

The Stymphalian birds were creatures that were sacred to Aries, the good of war. They were man eating birds with beaks of bronze and dagger like metallic feathers that could be launched at their victims. They had all migrated to Lake Stymphalia in Arcadia where they multiplied rapidly. In Greek mythology, Arcadia is the home of the God Pan. In other cultures, it is seen as an untouched and unadulterated wilderness. The birds went berserk, wreaking havoc all over the countryside, destroying crops, trees and killing the townspeople. Hercules ventures into the swamp but couldn’t go too far as it couldn’t support his weight. Athena coming to his aid, gave him a rattle made by Hephaestus for this very purpose. He shook it and the birds flew out from their perches. Hercules then shot down several of them with his arrows, killing them instantly. The remaining birds flew far away never to return.




**All images are taken from greekerthanthegreeks.blogspot.in