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The Labors of Hercules from Greek Mythology


PLATO [484b] Gorgias

And it seems to me that Pindar adds his evidence to what I say, in the ode where he says--

Law the sovereign of all,
Mortals and immortals,

which, so he continues,--

Carries all with highest hand,
Justifying the utmost force: in proof I take
The deeds of Hercules, for unpurchased

--the words are something like that--I do not know the poem well--but it tells how he drove off the cows [484c] as neither a purchase nor a gift from Geryones; taking it as a natural right that cows ar any other possessions of the inferior and weaker should all belong to the superior and stronger.


[2.5.1] When Hercules heard that, he went to Tiryns and did as he was bid by Eurystheus. First, Eurystheus ordered him to bring the skin of the Nemean lion; [1] now that was an invulnerable beast begotten by Typhon. On his way to attack the lion he came to Cleonae and lodged at the house of a day-laborer, Molorchus;[2] and when his host would have offered a victim in sacrifice, Hercules told him to wait for thirty days, and then, if he had returned safe from the hunt, to sacrifice to Saviour Zeus, but if he were dead, to sacrifice to him as to a hero.[3] And having come to Nemea and tracked the lion, he first shot an arrow at him, but when he perceived that the beast was invulnerable, he heaved up his club and made after him. And when the lion took refuge in a cave with two mouths, Hercules built up the one entrance and came in upon the beast through the other, and putting his arm round its neck held it tight till he had choked it; so laying it on his shoulders he carried it to Cleonae. And finding Molorchus on the last of the thirty days about to sacrifice the victim to him as to a dead man, he sacrificed to Saviour Zeus and brought the lion to Mycenae. Amazed at his manhood, Eurystheus forbade him thenceforth to enter the city, but ordered him to exhibit the fruits of his labours before the gates. They say, too, that in his fear he had a bronze jar made for himself to hide in under the earth,[4] and that he sent his commands for the labours through a herald, Copreus,[5] son of Pelops the Elean. This Copreus had killed Iphitus and fled to Mycenae, where he was purified by Eurystheus and took up his abode.

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1997 N.S. Gill

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