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[6]

And Hercules marched with the Calydonians against the Thesprotians, and having taken the city of Ephyra, of which Phylas was king, he had intercourse with the king's daughter Astyoche, and became the father of Tlepolemus.1 While he stayed among them, he sent word to Thespius to keep seven of his sons, to send three to Thebes and to despatch the remaining forty to the island of Sardinia to plant a colony.2 After these events, as he was feasting with Oeneus, he killed with a blow of his knuckles endeavored, son of Architeles, when the lad was pouring water on his hands; now the lad was a kinsman of Oeneus.3 Seeing that it was an accident, the lad's father pardoned Hercules; but Hercules wished, in accordance with the law, to suffer the penalty of exile, and resolved to depart to Ceyx at Trachis. And taking Deianira with him, he came to the river Evenus, at which the centaur Nessus sat and ferried passengers across for hire,4 alleging that he had received the ferry from the gods for his righteousness. So Hercules crossed the river by himself, but on being asked to pay the fare he entrusted Deianira to Nessus to carry over. But he, in ferrying her across, attempted to violate her. She cried out, Hercules heard her, and shot Nessus to the heart when he emerged from the river. Being at the point of death, Nessus called Deianira to him and said that if she would have a love charm to operate on Hercules she should mix the seed he had dropped on the ground with the blood that flowed from the wound inflicted by the barb. She did so and kept it by her.


1 Compare Diod. 4.36.1, who gives Phyleus as the name of the king of Ephyra, but does not mention the name of his daughter. According to Pind. O. 7.23(40)ff., with the Scholiast), the mother of Tlepolemus by Herakles was not Astyoche but Astydamia.

2 The sons referred to are those whom Herakles had by the fifty daughters of Thespius. See Apollod. 2.4.10. CompareDiod. 4.29, who says that two (not three) of these sons of Herakles remained in Thebes, and that their descendants were honoured down to the historian's time. He informs us also that, on account of the youth of his sons, Herakles committed the leadership of the colony to his nephew Iolaus. As to the Sardinian colony see also Paus. 1.29.5, Paus. 7.2.2, Paus. 9.23.1, Paus. 10.17.5, who says (Paus. 10.17.5) that there were still places called Iolaia in Sardinia, and that Iolaus was still worshipped by the inhabitants down to his own time. As Pseudo-Aristotle, Mirab. Auscult. 100, (Westermann, Scriptores rerum mirabilium Graeci, p. 31) tells us that the works ascribed to Iolaus included round buildings finely built of masonry in the ancient Greek style, we can hardly doubt that the reference is to the remarkable prehistoric round towers which are still found in the island, and to which nothing exactly similar is known elsewhere. The natives call them nouraghes. They are built in the form of truncated cones, and their material consists of squared or rough blocks of stone, sometimes of enormous size. See Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de l'Art dans l'Antiquité, iv.22ff. The Sardinian Iolaus was probably a native god or hero, whom the Greeks identified with their own Iolaus on account of the similarity of his name. It has been surmised that he was of Phoenician origin, being identical with Esmun. See W. W. Baudissin, Adonis und Esmun (Leipsig, 1911), pp. 282ff.

3 Compare Diod. 4.36.2; Paus. 2.13.8; Athenaeus ix.80, pp. 410 411 FA; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.1212; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 50-51; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.456ff. From Athenaeus ix.80, pp. 410 411 FA we learn that the story was told or alluded to by Hellanicus, Herodorus, and Nicander. The victim's name is variously given as Eunomus, Ennomus, Eurynomus, Archias, Cherias, and Cyathus. He was cupbearer to Oeneus, the father-in-law of Herakles. The scene of the tragedy seems to have been generally laid at Calydon, of which Oeneus was king (Apollod. 1.8.1), but Pausanias transfers the scene to Phlius.

4 As to Herakles and Nessus, and the fatal affray at the ferry, see Soph. Trach. 555ff.; Diod. 4.36.3ff.; Strab. 10.2.5; Dio Chrysostom lx; Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelii, ii.2.15ff.; Nonnus, in Westermann's Mythographi Graeci, Appendix Narrationum, xxviii.8. p. 371; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 50-51; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.457ff.; Ov. Met. 9.101ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 34; Servius. on Virgil, Aen. viii 300; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. xi.235; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 20ff., 131 (First Vatican Mythographer 58; Second Vatican Mythographer 165). The tale was told by Archilochus, Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.1212. Apollodorus's version of the story is copied, with a few verbal changes and omissions, by Zenobius, Cent. i.33, but as usual without acknowledgment.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 529
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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 584
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