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[4]

As a fourth labour he ordered him to bring the Erymanthian boar alive;1 now that animal ravaged Psophis, sallying from a mountain which they call Erymanthus. So passing through Pholoe he was entertained by the centaur Pholus, a son of Silenus by a Melian nymph.2 He set roast meat before Hercules, while he himself ate his meat raw. When Hercules called for wine, he said he feared to open the jar which belonged to the centaurs in common.3 But Hercules, bidding him be of good courage, opened it, and not long afterwards, scenting the smell, the centaurs arrived at the cave of Pholus, armed with rocks and firs. The first who dared to enter, Anchius and Agrius, were repelled by Hercules with a shower of brands, and the rest of them he shot and pursued as far as Malea. Thence they took refuge with Chiron, who, driven by the Lapiths from Mount Pelion, took up his abode at Malea. As the centaurs cowered about Chiron, Hercules shot an arrow at them, which, passing through the arm of Elatus, stuck in the knee of Chiron. Distressed at this, Hercules ran up to him, drew out the shaft, and applied a medicine which Chiron gave him. But the hurt proving incurable, Chiron retired to the cave and there he wished to die, but he could not, for he was immortal. However, Prometheus offered himself to Zeus to be immortal in his stead, and so Chiron died. The rest of the centaurs fled in different directions, and some came to Mount Malea, and Eurytion to Pholoe, and Nessus to the river Evenus. The rest of them Poseidon received at Eleusis and hid them in a mountain. But Pholus, drawing the arrow from a corpse, wondered that so little a thing could kill such big fellows; howbeit, it slipped from his hand and lighting on his foot killed him on the spot.4 So when Hercules returned to Pholoe, he beheld Pholus dead; and he buried him and proceeded to the boar hunt. And when he had chased the boar with shouts from a certain thicket, he drove the exhausted animal into deep snow, trapped it, and brought it to Mycenae.


1 As to the Erymanthian boar and the centaurs, see Soph. Trach. 1095ff.; Diod. 4.12; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.268ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 30. The boar's tusks were said to be preserved in a sanctuary of Apollo at Cumae in CampaniaPaus. 8.24.5).

2 As to these nymphs, see Hesiod, Th. 187. The name perhaps means an ash-tree nymph (from μελία, an ash tree), as Dryad means an oak tree nymph (from δρῦς, an oak tree).

3 Compare Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.271; Theocritus vii.149ff. The jar had been presented by Dionysus to a centaur with orders not to open it till Herakles came (Diodorus Siculus iv.12.3).

4 Compare Servius on Verg. A. 8.294.

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