The Struggle for the
After completing his twelve labors, Hercules hit the road, once again. Somehow or another, Hercules caught wind that Eurytus, the prince of Oechalia, was offering his beautiful daughter, Iole, as a bride prize to any man who could best him and his sons in an archery contest. Upon hearing this, Hercules traveled to Oechalia and competed against Eurytus and his sons. Legend has it that Eurytus was the man who first schooled Hercules in the use of the bow. His was a challenge that pitted student against teacher. It should come as no surprise that Hercules defeated his fellow contestants with ease.
Boston 13.195, Attic red figure lekythos, c. 510 B.C.
A youth with cattle
From Caskey & Beazley, plate IV. With permission of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Crestfallen and dismayed, Hercules left Oechalia. Shortly after Hercules' departure, some mares (or cattle, depending on the storyteller) were stolen by Autolycus from a local man. Eurytus instantly thought that Hercules was the culprit. Iphytus, however, refused to believe that Hercules was the thief and set out to pay him a visit at Tiryns (another version suggests Iphytus went to Tiryns to look for the cattle himself). Hercules received Iphytus in good cheer and the two men passed the time entertaining each other. Unfortunately for Iphytus, however, during the visit something went awry, and Hercules, in another fit of madness, hurled Iphytus to his death from the top of the walls of Tiryns.
The Mycenaean citadel of Tiryns: West walls from the southwest
Photograph courtesy of the Department of Archaeology, Boston University,
Saul S. Weinberg Collection
Following the murder of Iphytus, Hercules contracted a terrible disease, as a result of his violent outburst. Hercules then journeyed to the oracle at Delphi, in hopes that the priestess there would advise him on how to cure himself. But Hercules was to be disappointed. When he questioned the Pythian priestess, she was unable to answer him in oracles. Hercules, outraged at priestesses unwillingness to help, began tearing the temple apart. When Hercules came upon the Delphic tripod, he started to make off with it, thinking that he would establish an oracle of his own.
Delphi, Siphnian Treasury Frieze--East
Above, East pediment, showing Zeus breaking up the fight between Hercules and Apollo for the tripod
Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Delphi Museum
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