The Library of History

Page 134

Page 134 prevail to be rid of them. Being therefore there was need of Art and Contrivance in this matter, he invented a Brazen Pan, and by the mighty sound it made, by striking upon it, frighted the Birds, and by the continual noise, drave them at length quite away; so that the Lake was never infested with them afterwards.

This Labour being now at an end, Eurystheus in Contempt of him, commanded him without any Assistant to cleanse Augeus his Stable, in which were vast heaps of Muck and Dirt which had been gathering together for many Years. Hercules therefore to avoid the ignominy of this Contempt cast upon him, scorn'd to carry out the Muck and Dung upon his Shoulders, but in one Days time, without any disgrace to himself, cleans'd the Stable, by turning the Course of the River Peneus through it; in which thing the ingenuity of Hercules is admirable, who so executed the proud Command of his domineering Master, as to avoid every thing that was base and unbecoming the glory of his immortal Honour.

Next was impos'd upon him the bringing the Bull out of Crete, with which (they say) Pasiphae fell in love. To this end therefore he sail'd into the Island, and by the assistance of King Minos, transported the Beast (for which he had made so long a Voyage) into Peloponesus.

Having perform'd this Task, he instituted the Olympick Games, and for that purpose chose out a place he judg'd most convenient for the reception of such a Pompous Assembly, which were the Fields all along the Banks of the River Alpheus. Here he order'd the Solemnity of these Games to the honour of his Father Jupiter; and appointed to the Victors a Crown for a Reward, minding the general good and benefit of Mankind, without taking any advantage to himself. In every Exercise he was Victor, without any opposition; for by reason of his remakable strength and valour, none durst contend with him, although the Contests were of a contrary and different nature one from another: For it's a hard matter even for a mighty Champion in Combate, always to win the Prize in a Course, and as difficult for those that are usually Victors in small Contentions, to prevail against them that are eminent in greater Contests. Hercules therefore prevail'd in all these Games, carrying away the Prize from the chiefest among them.

And here we are not to omit giving an account of the Rewards given to him by the Gods for his Virtue; for when he retir'd himself from Wars, and betook himself to his ease and quietness, and to follow Sports, Panegyricks and Festivals, every one of the Gods presented him with their several Gifts.

Minerva gave him an imbroidered Hood, Vulcan a Club and a Breast-plate; and between these Two, was a Contest who should excel in their several Arts, whilst the one wrought and bestow'd what was for pleasure and ornament in time of Peace, and the other what was for defence in time of War. Neptune presented him with Horses, Mercury with a Sword, Apollo a Bow, and taught him the art of Archery. And Ceres to expiate the Slaughter of the Centaurs, instituted in honour of Hercules some small Mysteries. But concerning the Birth of this God, this is remarkable, for the first Woman upon Earth that Jupiter lay with, was Niobe, the Daughter of Pharoneus; and the last was Alcmena, who was in the Sixteenth Age after Niobe as the Mythologists say. From the time of † her Ancestors, he began to beget Men, and at length ended in this Alcmena, and would never after have any thing to do with any Mortal, or beget any Issue, never expecting to beget a more excellent Offspring.

Afterwards when the Giants fought with the immortal Gods at Pallene, Hercules aided the Gods, and after a great Slaughter made by him of those Sons of the Earth, he became greatly renown'd. For Jupiter call'd those only Gods of Olympus, who assisted him in the War, by this Title of Honour, to distinguish the Couragious from the Coward; which Surname he gave to Bacchus and Hercules, though their Mothers were Mortals; not only because they were the Offspring of Jove, but likewise for that they were like him in virtuous Qualifications, doing good generally to all Mankind.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books