The Library of History

Page 133

Page 133 Conflict; for if he should let him go while he was in his full strength, the Champion was in danger to be rent in pieces with his Tushes; and if he wounded him too sore, and so kill'd him, his Labour was lost, and his Victory imperfect. However he so prudently manag'd the Combat, that he brought the Boar alive to Euristheus, who was so terrify'd to see him come hurrying with the Boar upon his Shoulders, that he hid himself in a Brazen Hogshead.

In the mean time Hercules subdu'd the Centaurs upon this occasion: There was one Pholus among the Centaurs, from whom the Neighbouring Mountain was call'd Pholoes; this same having entertain'd Hercules as his Guest, took up an Hogshead of Wine that had for a long time been bury'd in the Earth. For it's reported that this Wine was anciently deposited in the Hands of a certain Centaur by Bacchus, who commanded that it should be broacht at that very time when Hercules came thither; who now hapning to be there the Fourth Age after, Pholus remembring Bacchus his Command, open'd the Hogshead; whereupon the Wine being old, and exceeding strong, the Flavour of it reacht to the Neighbouring Centaurs, and struck them all with a fit of Fury and Madness; whereupon they all came in Troops, and in a terrible Tumult assaulted Pholus his House, to carry away the Prey, in so much as Pholus in a great Fright hid himself.

But Hercules unexpectedly set upon the Aggressors; for he was to fight with those who from the Mother partook of the Nature of the Gods, were as swift as Horses, as strong as double Bodied Beasts, and were indu'd with the understanding and prudence of Men.

Some of these Centaurs assail'd him with Fir-Trees pluck'd up by the Roots; others with huge and massy Stones, some with lighted Firebrands, and others with Axes, with whom he undauntedly enter'd the List, and fought with that bravery, as was agreeable to the glory of his former Actions.

Their Mother Nephele assisted them by a violent Storm of Rain, which was no prejudice to them that were Four-footed; but he that had but Two, had by this means a troublesom and slippery Standing: However Hercules with wonderful Valour overcame them, that had so many and great Advantages above him, Killing most of them, and putting the rest to flight: Of those that were slain, the most remarkable were Daphnis, Argeus, Amphion, Hippotion, Oreus, Isoples, Melanchetes, Thereus, Dupo and Phrixus. And every one of those that fled, came afterwards to condign Punishment; For Homadus, (because he ravisht in Arcadia, Atalcyona, the Sister of Euristheus) was slain by Hercules, for which his Generosity was greatly admir'd: For though he hated his Enemy upon his own private Account, yet he judg'd it a commendable piece of Humanity, to have Compassion of a Woman in her afflicted Condition, upon the account of her Dishonour and Disgrace.

Somewhat likewise remarkable happened to Pholus, Hercules his Friend: For burying the Centaurs that were kill'd (upon the account of his Kindred and Relation to them) plucking a Dart out of one of them, he chanc'd with the Point mortally to wound himself, of which he died; whom Hercules with great Pomp and State bury'd at the Foot of the Mount; which fell out to be far more glorious than the most stately Monument; for the Mountain being call'd Philoe, preserves the memory of him bury'd there, not by Characters and Inscriptions, but by similittude of Name. In the same manner he kill'd Chiron (eminent for his Art in Phisick) by chance with the throwing of a Dart. But this that has been said of the Centaurs shall suffice.

Afterwards Hercules receiv'd a further Command, That he should take the swift Hart that had golden Horns, and bring him to the King. This he perform'd more by Art and Subtilty than strength of Body: For some say he took her in a Net, others by tracing her to the place where she rested, and there laying hold on her when she was asleep; but others say, that he ran her down, and so gain'd her by swiftness of Foot. However it were, it's certain he perform'd this Labour not by force or any hazard, but by Art and Skill.

Being next commanded to drive away the Birds that were about the Stymphalian Lake, by Art and Contrivance he easily perform'd this: For there were an innumerable number of Birds in those Places, which destroy'd and eat up all the Fruits in the Neighbourhood; and they were so numerous, that no Force could

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books