Page 140 ever were recorded. For he compos'd a Poem for sweetness and smoothness, the Subject of all Mens admiration: And he grew so eminent in this Art, that by the Melody of his Musick, he was said to draw even wild Beasts and Trees after him: And being naturally very studious, he attain'd to an extraordinary degree of Knowledge in the ancient Theology. He improv'd himself likewise very much by travelling into Egypt, so that he was accounted to excel the most accomplish'd Person among all the Grecians for his Knowledge, both in Divinity and Sacred Mysteries, in Musick and Poetry. He was one likewise in the Expedition of the Argonauts, and for the exceeding Love he had to his Wife (with an admirable Courage) descended into Hell, and there so inchanted Proserpina with the sweetness of his Musick, that she gratify'd him so far as to suffer him to carry back his Wife along with him, that dy'd a little before.
In like manner they say Bacchus hereupon rais'd his Mother Semele from the Shades below, and enduing her with Immortality, surnam'd her Thyone.
Having now done with this Digression relating to Orpheus, we return to Hercules: When he enter'd the Infernal Regious (the Mythologists say) Proserpina kindly receiv'd him as her Brother, and gave him liberty to loose Theseus and Perithous from their Chains; and at length contrary to the Expectations of all Men, brought up the Dog ty'd in his Chain, and presented him to open view.
The last Labour injoin'd him was to fetch away the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, to which purpose he pass'd over a Second time into Africa. The Mythologists vary in their Writings concerning this; for some affirm that there were really golden Apples in some of the Gardens of the Hesperides, guarded continually by a terrible Dragon. Others say, that there are Sheep of exquisite beauty in the Hesperides, and that from thence they are Poetically call'd Golden Apples, as Venus from her Beauty is call'd Golden Venus. Others will have it, that the Fleeces upon the Sheep's Backs are of that admirable Colour, that they glitter like Gold, and thence have been so call'd. And by the Dragon they understand the Shepherd of the Flocks, who being a Man of a strong Body and stout Heart, preserv'd the Flocks, and kill'd the Thieves that attempted to steal them.
But let every one judge of this matter as he thinks best himself: For Hercules kill'd the Keeper, and brought away the Apples or Sheep (which soever they were) to Eurystheus, trusting now, that since all his Tasks were perform'd (according to the Oracle of Apollo) he should be rewarded with Immortality.