Saturday, September 12, 2009

How ten labours became twelve

A Roman sarcophagus depicting nine of the twelve labours. Notice that a man (possibly the deceased) replace Heracles in the middle. From left to right:
The fight with the Nemean lion
The fight against the Lernean Hydra
Capturing the Erymantioan boar
The stag of Ceryneia in Arcadia
The Stymphalian birds
The girdle of the Amazon Queen
(Unidetified, possibly the cleaning of Augeas stables)
The Creatan Bull
The mares of the Thracian Diomedes

Heracles was to be released from his service when the ten labours were completed. Erystheus however declared that the hero cheated when completing two of the deeds, the killing of the Lernean Hydra and the cleaning of Augeas stables, and therefore had to complete two more. His argument went that Heracles was helped while fighting the hydra and that the hero accepted payment for cleaning the stables.

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