The Library of History

Page 132

Page 132 Erginus demanded the Delivery up of the Malefactor, and Creon the Prince of Thebes (dreading the Potency of Erginus) resolv'd to deliver him up; But Hercules stirr'd up the young Men of the City to arm themselves, in order to recover the Liberty of their Country, and to that end took away all the Arms that were in the Temples, formerly dedicated to the Gods by their Ancestors, of the Spoyls of their Enemies. For none of the Citizens had any Arms of their own, by Reason the Menyans had disarm'd the City; so that the Thebans had not the least Thought of a Revolt.

Intelligence being brought that Erginus with an Army approach'd the City, Hercules set upon him in a strait Passage (where a Multitude was of little Use) and kill'd Erginus, and cut off almost his whole Army. He fell likewise suddainly upon the City of the Orchomenians, entring unexpectedly, and burnt the Palace of the Menyae, and raz'd the City to the Ground.

The Fame of this notable Exploit was presently nois'd over all Greece, while such a suddain and unexpected Atchievement was the Subject of every Man's Admiration, and Creon the King (wonderfully taken with the Valour of the young Man) gave him his Daughter Megaera to Wife, and committed to him the Care and Charge of the City as if he had been his own Son.

But Euristheus King of Argos (jealous of Hercules his growing Greatness) sent for him to perform the Labours he was to impose upon him, which he refusing, Jupiter commanded him to obey King Euristheus; whereupon Hercules went to Delphos, and inquir'd of the Oracle concerning this Matter, who answer'd him, That it was the Pleasure of the Gods, that he should perform twelve Labours at the Command of Euristheus, and that when he had finish'd them, he should receive the Reward of Immortality. Hereupon Hercules became exceeding sad and melancholy; for he judg'd it very much below him to be at the Beck of his inferior; and to disobey his Father Jupiter a second time he concluded was both unprofitable and impossible. While he was in this Perplexity Juno struck him with Madness; being therefore through the Discomposure of his Mind become distracted, and by the Growth of his Distemper altogether a mad Man, he design'd to murder Iolaus, who saving himself by Flight he fell upon his own Children by Megara, who were next in his Way, and struck them through with his Darts, as if they had been his Enemies.

As soon as he came again to himself, and understood his Error, he almost sunk under the Weight of his Misery (being pity'd by every Body) and shut up himself in his own House a long time from the Converse and Society of Men.

At length Time moderating his Grief, resolving to undergo all the Difficulties that were enjoyn'd him, he went to Euristheus; who in the first place commanded him to kill the Lyon in the Forest of Nemea, which was of a monstrous Bigness, not to be pierc'd or wounded by Sword, Spear or Stones, and therefore not to be dealt with but by meer Force and Strength of Hand. His Walks were commonly between Mycenas and Nemea, near the Mountain (from what happen'd to it) call'd Tretos. For at the Foot of this Hill there was a Den, in which this Monster us'd to lurk. Hercules here meeting with him lay'd hold on him, whereupon the Beast beginning to fly to his Den, he resolutely pursu'd him (having before stop'd up one of the Mouths of the Den) and so both clos'd, where he got the Lyon by the Throat, and strangl'd him with his Arms. Then he cloath'd himself with his Skin (which was big enough to cover his whole Body) and ever after wore it as a Defence in all Conflicts.

His second Task was to kill the Hydra of Lerna. This Monster had a hundred Necks rising out of one Body, and upon every Neck a serpentine Head, and when one of these was cut off, two others grew up in its stead, and therefore this Monster was accounted invincible; and not without good reason; for from the Part that was lost, arose a double Assistance in its Room. Against this Difficulty he invented this Stratagem; he commanded Iolaus to sear the Part that was cut off with a Firebrand, that thereby the Blood might be stop'd, by which Means the Beast was kill'd; and he dipt the Points of his Darts in the Monster's Gall, that wherever they struck, the Wound might be incurable.

The third Command was, that he should bring the Erymanthean Boar (which rov'd about in the Plains of Arcadia) to him alive. This seem'd to be a most difficult Task. For he that fought with this Beast ought to be so subtil as diligently to watch the exact Time and fittest Opportunity in the Management of the

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books