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Unformatted text preview: to 6. . Killing the Nemean lion, whose hide was impervious to weapons. Heracles chokes the lion to death with his bare hands and uses its own claws to skin it.
T henceforth, he wears its pelt as a cloak. He also fashions his famous club at
this time to substitute for his trademark bow. . Killing the Hydra, a many—headed water snake whose heads would immedi— ately grow back when severed. To prevent the heads from regenerating, Hera—
cles arranges for a friend to sear the necks with a torch as each head is severed.
Heracles then applies its poisonous gall to his arrows. (Eurystheus refused to
count this labor because Heracles had help.) . Capturing the Golden Hind, a golden-horned deer sacred to Artemis. To capture the deer, Heracles has to pursue it for a year. In some versions, he
has to travel to the mythical North, the land of the Hyperboreans, to find it.
(Note: the sequence of the third and fourth labors is sometimes reversed.) . Capturing the Erymanthian boar, which he has to pursue into territory oc— cupied by the centaurs. While he is there. his host, the ccntaur Pholus. opens
a barrel ofwine, thereby attracting the other centaurs. who attack Heracles.
Heracles drives them off, but in the process he accidentally wounds both his
host and the good centaur, Chiron, with poisoned arrows. . Cleaning the Augean stables, for which Heracles demands a promise of payment from King Augeas. He accomplishes this unpleasant task by divert—
ing the course ofa river (or two) to wash through the barn. Because Augeas refuses to pay him, Heracles later returns with an army. (Eurystheus refused to count this labor, too, because Heracles demanded payment.) Removing the Stymphalian birds, whose droppings were creating a public
nuisance in an Arcadian town. (According to some versions, they also ate hu— 10. 11. 12. man flesh.) Heracles drives away these birds by using brass rattles to frighten
them off and by shooting many of them as they fly away. Capturing the Cretan bull, the bovine parent of the Minotaur. Bringing it
back, Heracles releases it near Marathon. (Theseus has to recapture it later.) . Capturing the Thracian horses, property of King Diomedes. To tame the horses, which eat human ﬂesh, Heracles feeds their owner to them. While
the guest of King Admetus, Heracles rescues Admetus’s wife, Alcestis, from
death—actually wrestling with Death (Thanatos) in the process. Bringing back the girdle (belt) of Hippolyte, the Amazon queen. Hip-
polyte gives the girdle to Heracles willingly, which angers Hera, who per—
suades the other Amazons that Heracles was actually kidnapping Hippolyte. When they attack Heracles’ ship, he kills the queen, believing she has lied to
him, and keeps the belt. Bringing back the cattle of Geryon, the three-headed giant sometimes
identiﬁed as the herdsman of the dead. On this trip, the hero sets up the
Pillars of Heracles at the western entrance to the Mediterranean. Bringing back the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, apples of immortal-
ity that grow on the Tree of Life in the garden in the mythical West, where
the sun sets. According to some versions, the Titan Atlas retrieves the apples
while Heracles holds up the sky in his place. Capturing Cerberus (the three—headed, or ﬁfty—headed, hound of Hades).
In order to accomplish this task, Heracles is first initiated into the Eleusinian
Mysteries to learn how to safely traverse the kingdom of Hades. In some ver—
sions, he shoots Hades himself, wounding him in the process. ...
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- Spring '07