After the delivery of the oracle, Hermes sold Hercules, and he was bought by Omphale,1 daughter of Iardanes, queen of Lydia, to whom at his death her husband Tmolus had bequeathed the government. Eurytus did not accept the compensation when it was presented to him, but Hercules served Omphale as a slave, and in the course of his servitude he seized and bound the Cercopes at Ephesus;2 and as for Syleus in Aulis, who compelled passing strangers to dig, Hercules killed him with his daughter Xenodoce, after burning the vines with the roots.3 And having put in to the island of Doliche, he saw the body of Icarus washed ashore and buried it, and he called the island Icaria instead of Doliche. In return Daedalus made a portrait statue of Hercules at Pisa, which Hercules mistook at night for living and threw a stone and hit it. And during the time of his servitude with Omphale it is said that the voyage to Colchis4 and the hunt of the Calydonian boar took place, and that Theseus on his way from Troezen cleared the Isthmus of malefactors.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 As to Herakles and Omphale, see Soph. Trach. 247ff.; Diod. 4.31.5-8; Lucian, Dial. Deorum. xiii.2; Plut. Quaest. Graec. 45; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.425ff.; Scholiast on Hom. Od. xxi.22; Joannes Lydus, De magistratibus iii.64; Ovid, Her. ix.55ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 32; Seneca, Herakles Oetaeus 371ff.; Statius, Theb. x.646-649. According to Pherecydes, cited by the Scholiast on Hom. Od. xxi.22, Hermes sold Herakles to Omphale for three talents. The sum obtained by his sale was to be paid as compensation to the sons of the murdered Iphitus, according to Diod. 4.31.5-8. The period of his servitude, according to Soph. Trach. 252ff., was only one year; but Herodorus, cited by the Scholiast on Soph. Tr. 253, says that it was three years, which agrees with the statement of Apollodorus.
2 As to the Cercopes, see Diod. 4.31.7; Nonnus, in Mythographi Graeci, ed. A. Westermann, Appendix Narrationum, 39, p. 375; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.431, v.73ff.; Zenobius, Cent. v.10; Apostolius, Cent. xi.19. These malefactors were two in number. Herakles is said to have carried them hanging with their heads downward from a pole. They are so represented in Greek art. See W. H. Roscher, Lexikon der griech. und röm. Mythologie, ii.1166ff. The name Cercopes seems to mean “tailed men,” （from κέρκος, “tail”）. One story concerning them was that they were deceitful men whom Zeus punished by turning them into apes, and that the islands of Ischia and Procida, off the Bay of Naples, were called Pithecusae （“Ape Islands”） after them. See Harpocration, s.v. Κέρκωψ; Eustathius on Hom. Od. xix.247, p. 1864; Ov. Met. 14.88ff. According to Pherecydes, the Cercopes were turned into stone. See Scholiast on Lucian, Alexander 4, p. 181, ed. H. Rabe. The story of Herakles and the Cercopes has been interpreted as a reminiscence of Phoenician traders bringing apes to Greek markets. See O. Keller, Thiere des classischen Alterthums （Innsbruck, 1887）, p. 1. The interpretation may perhaps be supported by an Assyrian bas-relief which represents a Herculean male figure carrying an ape on his head and leading another ape by a leash, the animals being apparently brought as tribute to a king. See O. Keller, op. cit., p. 11, fig. 2; Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de l'Art dans l'Antiquité, ii.547, fig 254.
3 Compare Diod. 4.31.7; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.432ff.; Conon 17. Euripides wrote a satyric play on the subject. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 575ff. The legend may be based on a custom practised by vine-dressers on passing strangers. See W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Forschungen, pp. 12, 53ff., who, for the rough jests of vine dressers in antiquity, refers to Hor. Sat. i.8.28ff.; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xviii.26.66(249).
4 That is, the voyage of the Argo. See above, Apollod. 1.9.16ff. As to the hunt of the Calydonian boar, see above, Apollod. 1.8.2ff. As to the clearance of the Isthmus by Theseus, see below, Apollod. 3.16, and the Apollod. E.1.1ff.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.