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[265] Acheloia cornua fregit. Achelous was the name of a famous river of Epirus, that took its rise in Mount Pindus, and divided aetolia from Acarnania. Its modern name is Pachicolmo. The ancients have handed down many fables concerning this river. They tell us, that he was the son of Oceanus and Tethys, or, according to some, of the sun and earth; and that, as he had equal pretensions to Deianira with Hercules, they engaged in single combat. Hercules was the conqueror, notwithstanding all the artifices of Achelous, who during the fight transformed himself into a variety of shapes, and among others that of a bull; in which form Hercules broke his horns. The most common solution of the fable is this. As Achelous was a considerable river, the poets feigned him to be the son of Oceanus. His course was full of turnings and windings, for which reason in the combat with Hercules he is said to have changed himself into a serpent. The roaring noise he makes when he overflows his banks, gave rise to the fiction of changing himself into a bull; and perhaps this may be the reason that the ancients painted rivers with horns, and that the poets so often describe rivers under the figure of a bull. Thus Horace, speaking of the Aufidus, gives it the epithet Tauriformis:Sic tauriformis volvitur Aufidus.

As Achelous branched itself into two channels, these are fitly represented by the two horns; and, as one branch was dammed up by Hercules to prevent its overflowing the country, the poets have dressed this up into the fable of his cutting off the God's born.

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