The Argive legends are those which best preserve the primitive Dorian conception of Heracles. They are alloyed, indeed, with later elements, of a political origin. Thus, in order that the Dorian conquerors might have some hereditary title to the land, Heracles was made the son of Alcmena, and, through her, a scion of the Perseidae; Tiryns was his heritage, of which he had been despoiled. Again, the struggles between Argos and Sparta for the headship of Peloponnesus have a reflex in those wars which the Argive Heracles wages in Elis or Messenia. But, when such elements have been set aside, there remains the old-Dorian hero, slayer of monsters, purger of the earth, who triumphs over the terrors of Hades, and brings the apples of immortality from the garden of the Hesperides. We do not know exactly when the ‘twelve labours’ of Heracles became a definite legend. The earliest evidence for it is afforded by the temple of Zeus at Olympia, about 450 B.C. The twelve labours were there portrayed on the metopes,—six on those of the western front, and six on those of the eastern. All the twelve subjects are known from the existing remains1. The list agrees, in much the larger part, with twelve labours enumerated by the Chorus in the Hercules Furens of Euripides2, a play of which the date may be placed about 421—416 B.C. Neither list knows any places, outside of Peloponnesus, except Crete and Thrace; nor does either list recognise any of those later myths in which Heracles symbolises the struggles of Argos with Sparta. In both lists the journey to the Hesperides has lost its original meaning,—the attainment of immortality,—since it precedes the capture of Cerberus. These are some reasons for thinking that a cycle of twelve labours had become fixed in Dorian legend long before the fifth century B.C.3 The Dorians of Argclis were those among whom it first took shape, as the scenes of the labours show. But nothing is known as to the form in which it first became current. One thing, however, is plain. Although the twelve tasks are more or less independent of each other, the series has the unity of a single idea. Heracles is the destroyer of pests on land and sea, the saviour of Argolis first and then the champion of humanity, the strong man who secures peace to the husbandman and an open path to the sailor: with his club and his bow, he goes forth against armed warriors, or monsters of superhuman malignity, reliant on his inborn might, and conscious of a divine strain in his blood. This is no Achilles, no image of that chivalry which Aeolian legend had delineated and Ionian poetry adorned; no steeds, swift as the wind, bear his chariot into battle; no panoply of bronze, wrought by Hephaestus, flashes on him, ‘like the gleam of blazing fire, or of the sun as it arises’: in the gentle graces of human existence, in the softer human sympathies, he has no portion; no music of the lyre soothes his rest in the camp; he has never known such tears as came into the eyes of the young Achaean warrior, when the aged king of Troy, kneeling at his feet, kissed the hand that had slain Hector; nor has he anything of that peculiar pathos which is given alike to Hector and to Achilles by the dim presage of an early doom, the uncertain shadow which now and again flits across the meridian of their glory; the golden scales, lifted in the hand of Zeus, have never trembled with the fate of Heracles, for his destiny was fixed before his birth, and is inseparable from his origin,—that he must toil while he lives, and must live until his task has been accomplished. He embodies a sterner ideal; one in which there is less of spiritual charm and of flexible intelligence, but which has a moral grandeur of its own; we might say that relatively to the Ionian view of life it is as the Hebraic ideal to the Hellenic. And this ideal may rightly be called ‘Dorian,’ in the sense that it presumably represents a conception of the primitive Dorian folk, bearing a general stamp which can be traced in historical expressions of the Dorian nature. That conception appears in only two other sets of legends besides the Argive. And these belong to near kinsmen of the Dorian stock, the Boeotians and the Thessalians.