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In the treatise 1 which he wrote on the mental and physical endowment and achievements of Hercules while he was among men, Plutarch says that the philosopher Pythagoras reasoned sagaciously and acutely in determining and measuring the hero's superiority in size and stature. For since it was generally agreed that Hercules paced off the racecourse of the stadium at Pisae, near the temple of Olympian Zeus, and made it six hundred feet long, and since the other courses in the land of Greece, constructed later by other men, were indeed six hundred feet in length, but yet were somewhat shorter than that at Olympia, he readily concluded by a process of comparison that the measured length of Hercules' foot was greater than that of other men in the same proportion as the course at Olympia was longer than the other stadia. Then, having ascertained the size [p. 5] of Hercules' foot, he made a calculation of the bodily height suited to that measure, based upon the natural proportion of all parts of the body, and thus arrived at the logical conclusion that Hercules was as much taller than other men as the course at Olympia exceeded the others that had been constructed with the same number of feet. 2
2 According to Apollodorus, II. iv. 9, Hercules was 4 cubits in height; according to Herodorus, 4 cubits and one foot; see J. Tzetzes, Chilides, ii. 210. The phrase ex pede Herculem has become proverbial, along with ex ungue leonem and ab uno disce ones (Virg. Aen. ii. 65 f.).
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