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[11]

When the labours had been performed in eight years and a month,1 Eurystheus ordered Hercules, as an eleventh labour, to fetch golden apples from the Hesperides,2 for he did not acknowledge the labour of the cattle of Augeas nor that of the hydra. These apples were not, as some have said, in Libya, but on Atlas among the Hyperboreans.3 They were presented < by Earth> to Zeus after his marriage with Hera, and guarded by an immortal dragon with a hundred heads, offspring of Typhon and Echidna, which spoke with many and divers sorts of voices. With it the Hesperides also were on guard, to wit, Aegle, Erythia, Hesperia, and Arethusa. So journeying he came to the river Echedorus. And Cycnus, son of Ares and Pyrene, challenged him to single combat. Ares championed the cause of Cycnus and marshalled the combat, but a thunderbolt was hurled between the two and parted the combatants.4 And going on foot through Illyria and hastening to the river Eridanus he came to the nymphs, the daughters of Zeus and Themis. They revealed Nereus to him, and Hercules seized him while he slept, and though the god turned himself into all kinds of shapes, the hero bound him and did not release him till he had learned from him where were the apples and the Hesperides.5 Being informed, he traversed Libya. That country was then ruled by Antaeus, son of Poseidon,6 who used to kill strangers by forcing them to wrestle. Being forced to wrestle with him, Hercules hugged him, lifted him aloft,7 broke and killed him; for when he touched earth so it was that he waxed stronger, wherefore some said that he was a son of Earth.

After Libya he traversed Egypt. That country was then ruled by Busiris,8 a son of Poseidon by Lysianassa, daughter of Epaphus. This Busiris used to sacrifice strangers on an altar of Zeus in accordance with a certain oracle. For Egypt was visited with dearth for nine years, and Phrasius, a learned seer who had come from Cyprus, said that the dearth would cease if they slaughtered a stranger man in honor of Zeus every year. Busiris began by slaughtering the seer himself and continued to slaughter the strangers who landed. So Hercules also was seized and haled to the altars, but he burst his bonds and slew both Busiris and his son Amphidamas.9

And traversing Asia he put in to Thermydrae, the harbor of the Lindians.10 And having loosed one of the bullocks from the cart of a cowherd, he sacrificed it and feasted. But the cowherd, unable to protect himself, stood on a certain mountain and cursed. Wherefore to this day, when they sacrifice to Hercules, they do it with curses.11

And passing by Arabia he slew Emathion, son of Tithonus,12 and journeying through Libya to the outer sea he received the goblet from the Sun. And having crossed to the opposite mainland he shot on the Caucasus the eagle, offspring of Echidna and Typhon, that was devouring the liver of Prometheus, and he released Prometheus,13 after choosing for himself the bond of olive,14 and to Zeus he presented Chiron, who, though immortal, consented to die in his stead.

Now Prometheus had told Hercules not to go himself after the apples but to send Atlas, first relieving him of the burden of the sphere; so when he was come to Atlas in the land of the Hyperboreans, he took the advice and relieved Atlas. But when Atlas had received three apples from the Hesperides, he came to Hercules, and not wishing to support the sphere< he said that he would himself carry the apples to Eurystheus, and bade Hercules hold up the sky in his stead. Hercules promised to do so, but succeeded by craft in putting it on Atlas instead. For at the advice of Prometheus he begged Atlas to hold up the sky till he should>15 put a pad on his head. When Atlas heard that, he laid the apples down on the ground and took the sphere from Hercules. And so Hercules picked up the apples and departed. But some say that he did not get them from Atlas, but that he plucked the apples himself after killing the guardian snake. And having brought the apples he gave them to Eurystheus. But he, on receiving them, bestowed them on Hercules, from whom Athena got them and conveyed them back again; for it was not lawful that they should be laid down anywhere.


1 This period for the completion of the labours of Herakles is mentioned also by the Scholiast on Hom. Il. viii.368 and Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.353ff., both of whom, however, may have had the present passage of Apollodorus before them. It is possible that the period refers to the eight years' cycle, which figured prominently in the religious calendar of the ancient Greeks; for example, the Pythian games were originally held at intervals of eight years. See Geminus, Element. Astron. viii.25ff., ed. C. Manitius; Censorinus, De die natali 18. It is to be remembered that the period of service performed by Herakles for Eurystheus was an expiation for the murder of his children (see Apollod. 2.4.12). Now Cadmus is said to have served Ares for eight years as an expiation for the slaughter of the dragon, the offspring of Ares (see Apollod. 3.4.2). But in those days, we are told, the “eternal year” comprised eight common years (Apollod. 3.4.2). Now Apollo served Admetus for a year as an expiation for the slaughter of the Cyclopes (Apollod. 3.10.4); but according to Serv. Verg. A. 7.761, the period of Apollo's service was not one but nine years. In making this statement Servius, or his authority, probably had before him a Greek author, who mentioned an ἐννεατηρίς as the period of Apollo's service. But though ἐννεατηρίς means literally “nine years,” the period, in consequence of the Greek mode of reckoning, was actually equivalent to eight years (compare Celsus, De die natali 18.4, “Octaeteris facta, quae tunc enneateris vocitata, quia primus eius annus nono quoque anno redibat.”) These legends about the servitude of Cadmus, Apollo, and Herakles for eight years, render it probable that in ancient times Greek homicides were banished for eight years, and had during that time to do penance by serving a foreigner. Now this period of eight years was called a “great year” (Censorinus, De die natali 18.5), and the period of banishment for a homicide was regularly a year. See Apollod. 2.8.3; Eur. Hipp.34-37, Eur. Or. 1643-1645; Nicolaus Damascenus, Frag 20 (Fragmenta Historicorum Graccorum, ed. C. Müller, iii.369); Hesychius, s.v. ἀπενιαυτισμός; Suidas, s.v. ἀπεναυτίσαι. Hence it seems probable that, though in later times the period of a homicide's banishment was a single ordinary year, it may formerly have been a “great year,” or period of eight ordinary years. It deserves to be noted that any god who had forsworn himself by the Styx had to expiate his fault by silence and fasting for a full year, after which he was banished the company of the gods for nine years (Hes. Th. 793-804ff.); and further that any man who partook of human flesh in the rites of Lycaean Zeus was supposed to be turned into a wolf for nine years. See Paus. 8.2; Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii.81; Augustine, De civitate Dei xviii.17. These notions point to a nine years' period of expiation, which may have been observed in some places instead of the eight years' period. In the present passage of Apollodorus, the addition of a month to the eight years' period creates a difficulty which I am unable to explain. Ancient mathematicians defined a “great year” as the period at the end of which the sun, moon, and planets again occupy the same positions relatively to each other which they occupied at the beginning; but on the length of the period opinions were much divided. See Cicero, De natura deorum ii.20.51ff. Different, apparently, from the “great year” was the “revolving” (vertens) or “mundane” (mundanus) year, which was the period at the end of which, not only the sun, moon, and planets, but also the so-called fixed stars again occupy the positions relatively to each other which they occupied at the beginning; for the ancients recognized that the so-called fixed stars do move, though their motion is imperceptible to our senses. The length of a “revolving” or “mundane” year was calculated by ancient physicists at fifteen thousand years. See Cicero, Somnium Scipionis 7, with the commentary of Macrobius, ii.11.

2 As to the apples of the Hesperides, see Hes. Th. 215ff.; Eur. Herc. 394ff.; Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396ff.; with the Scholiast Ap. Rhod. Argon. iv.1396; Diod. 4.26; Paus. 5.11.6; Paus. 5.18.4; Paus. 6.19.8; Eratosthenes, Cat. 3; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.355ff.; Ov. Met. 4.637ff., ix.190; Hyginus, Fab. 30; Hyginus, Ast. ii.3; Scholia in Caesaris Germanici Aratea, pp. 382ff., in Martianus Capella, ed. Fr. Eyssenhardt; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 13ff., 130 (First Vatican Mythographer 38; Second Vatican Mythographer 161). From the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396ff. we learn that the story of Herakles and the apples of the Hesperides was told by Pherecydes in the second book of his work on the marriage of Hera. The close resemblance which the Scholiast's narrative bears to that of Apollodorus seems to show that here, as in many other places, our author followed Pherecydes. The account given by Pherecydes of the origin of the golden apples is as follows. When Zeus married Hera, the gods brought presents to the bride. Among the rest, Earth brought golden apples, which Hera so much admired that she ordered them to be planted in the garden of the gods beside Mount Atlas. But, as the daughters of Atlas used to pilfer the golden fruit, she set a huge serpent to guard the tree. Such is the story told, on the authority of Pherecydes, by Eratosthenes, Hyginus, Astr. ii.3, and the Scholiast on the Aratea of Germanicus.

3 Here Apollodorus departs from the usual version, which placed the gardens of the Hesperides in the far west, not the far north. We have seen that Herakles is said to have gone to the far north to fetch the hind with the golden horns (see above, Apollod. 2.5.3 note); also he is reported to have brought from the land of the Hyperboreans the olive spray which was to form the victor's crown at the Olympic games. See Pind. O. 3.11(20)ff.; Paus. 5.7.7, compare Paus. 5.15.3.

4 Compare Hyginus, Fab. 31, who describes the intervention of Mars (Ares) on the side of his son Cycnus, and the fall of the thunderbolt which parted the combatants; yet he says that Herakles killed Cycnus. This combat, which, according to Apollodorus, ended indecisively, was supposed to have been fought in Macedonia, for the Echedorus was a Macedonian river (Hdt. 7.124, Hdt. 7.127). Accordingly we must distinguish this contest from another and more famous fight which Herakles fought with another son of Ares, also called Cycnus, near Pagasae in Thessaly. See Apollod. 2.7.7, with the note. Apparently Hyginus confused the two combats.

5 The meeting of Herakles with the nymphs, and his struggle with Nereus, are related also by the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396, citing as his authority Pherecydes, whom Apollodorus also probably follows. The transformations of the reluctant sea-god Nereus in his encounter with Herakles are like those of the reluctant sea-god Proteus in his encounter with Menelaus (Hom. Od. 4.354- 570), and those of the reluctant sea-goddess Thetis with her lover Peleus (see below, Apollod. 3.13.5).

6 As to Herakles and Antaeus, see Pind. I. 4.52(87)ff., with the Scholiast on Pind. I. 4.52(87) and 54(92); Diod. 4.17.4; Paus. 9.11.6; Philostratus, Im. ii.21; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica vi.285ff.; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.363ff.; Scholiast on Plat. Laws, vii, 796a (whose account agrees almost verbally with that of Apollodorus); Ovid, Ibis 393-395, with the Scholia; Hyginus, Fab. 31; Lucan, Pharsal. iv.588-655; Juvenal iii.89; Statius, Theb. vi.893ff.; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. vi.869(894); Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 19, 131 (First Vatican Mythographer 55; Second Vatican Mythographer 164). According to Pindar, the truculent giant used to roof the temple of his sire Poseidon with the skulls of his victims. The fable of his regaining strength through contact with his mother Earth is dwelt on by Lucan with his usual tedious prolixity. It is briefly alluded to by Ovid, Juvenal, and Statius. Antaeus is said to have reigned in western Morocco, on the Atlantic coast. Here a hillock was pointed out as his tomb, and the natives believed that the removal of soil from the hillock would be immediately followed by rain, which would not cease till the earth was replaced. See Mela iii.106. Sertorius is said to have excavated the supposed tomb and to have found a skeleton sixty cubits long. See Plut. Sertorius 9; Strab. 17.3.8.

7 More literally, “lifted him aloft with hugs.” For this technical term (ἅμμα) applied to a wrestler's hug, see Plut. Fabius Maximus 23, and Plut. Alc. 2.

8 For Herakles and Busiris, see Diod. 4.18.1, Diod. 4.27.2ff.; Plut. Parallela 38; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron ii.367ff.; Ov. Met. 9.182ff.; Ovid, Ars Am. i.647-652; Scholiast on Ovid, Ibis 397 (p. 72, ed. R. Ellis); Hyginus, Fab. 31, 56; Serv. Verg. A. 8.300 and Georg. iii.5; Philargyrius on Verg. G. 3.5; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. xii.155. Ovid, with his Scholiasts, Hyginus and Philargyrius, like Apollodorus, allege a nine or eight years' dearth or drought as the cause of the human sacrifices instituted by Busiris. Their account may be derived from Pherecydes, who is the authority cited by the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396. Hyginus, Fab. 56 adds that the seer Phrasius, who advised the sacrifice, was a brother of Pygmalion. Herodotus, without mentioning Busiris, scouts the story on the ground that human sacrifices were utterly alien to the spirit of Egyptian religion (Hdt. 2.45). Isocrates also discredited the tradition, in so far as it relates to Herakles, because Herakles was four generations younger, and Busiris more than two hundred years older, than Perseus. See Isoc. 11.15. Yet there are grounds for thinking that the Greek tradition was substantially correct. For Manetho, our highest ancient authority, definitely affirmed that in the city of Ilithyia it was customary to burn alive “Typhonian men” and to scatter their ashes by means of winnowing fans (Plut. Isis et Osiris 73). These “Typhonian men” were red-haired, because Typhon, the Egyptian embodiment of evil, was also redhaired (Plut. Isis et Osiris 30, 33). But redhaired men would commonly be foreigners, in contrast to the black-haired natives of Egypt; and it was just foreigners who, according to Greek tradition, were chosen as victims. Diodorus Siculus points this out (Diod. 1.88.5) in confirmation of the Greek tradition, and he tells us that the redhaired men were sacrificed at the grave of Osiris, though this statement may be an inference from his etymology of the name Busiris, which he explains to mean “grave of Osiris.” The etymology is correct, Busiris being a Greek rendering of the Egyptian Asir “place of Osiris.” See A. Wiedemann, Herodots Zweites Buch (Leipsic, 1890), p. 213. Porphyry informs us, on the authority of Manetho, that the Egyptian custom of sacrificing human beings at the City of the Sun was suppressed by Amosis (Amasis), who ordered waxen effigies to be substituted for the victims. He adds that the human victims used to be examined just like calves for the sacrifice, and that they were sealed in token of their fitness for the altar. See Porphyry, De abstinentia iii.35. Sextus Empiricus even speaks of human sacrifices in Egypt as if they were practised down to his own time, which was about 200 A.D. See Sextus Empiricus, p. 173, ed. Bekker. Seleucus wrote a special treatise on human sacrifices in EgyptAthenaeus iv.72, p. 172 D). In view of these facts, the Greek tradition that the sacrifices were offered in order to restore the fertility of the land or to procure rain after a long drought, and that on one occasion the king himself was the victim, may be not without significance. For kings or chiefs have been often sacrificed under similar circumstances (see Apollod. 3.5.1; Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed. ii.97ff.; The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, i.344ff., 352ff.); and in ancient Egypt the rulers are definitely said to have been held responsible for the failure of the crops (Ammianus Marcellinus xxviii.5.14); hence it would not be surprising if in extreme cases they were put to death. Busiris was the theme of a Satyric play by Euripides. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 452ff.

9 The Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396 calls him Iphidamas, and adds “the herald Chalbes and the attendants” to the list of those slain by Herakles.

10 Thermydra is the form of the name given by Stephanus Byzantius, s.v.. In his account of this incident Tzetzes calls the harbour Thermydron (Tzetzes. Chiliades ii.385). Lindus was one of the chief cities of Rhodes.

11 Compare Conon 11; Philostratus, Im. ii.24; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.385ff.; Lactantius, Divin. Inst. i.21. According to all these writers except Tzetzes (who clearly follows Apollodorus), Herakles's victim in this affair was not a waggoner, but a ploughman engaged in the act of ploughing; Philostratus names him Thiodamus, and adds: “Hence a ploughing ox is sacrificed to Herakles and they begin the sacrifice with curses such as, I suppose, the husbandman then made use of; and Herakles is pleased and blesses the Lindians in return for their curses.” According to Lactantius, it was a pair of oxen that was sacrificed, and the altar at which the sacrifice took place bore the name of bouzygos, that is, “yoke of oxen.” Hence it seems probable that the sacrifice which the story purported to explain was offered at the time of ploughing in order to ensure a blessing on the ploughman's labours. This is confirmed by the ritual of the sacred ploughing observed at Eleusis, where members of the old priestly family of the Bouzygai or Ox-yokers uttered many curses as they guided the plough down the furrows of the Rarian Plain. See Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Βουζυγία, p. 206, lines 47ff.; Anecdota Graeca, ed. Bekker, i.221; Hesychius, s.v. Βουζύγης; Paroemiographi Graeci, ed. Leutsch and Schneidewin, i. p. 388; Scholiast on Soph. Ant. 255; Plut. Praecepta Conjugalia 42. Compare J. Toepffer, Attische Genealogie (Berlin, 1889), rr. 136ff.; Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, i.108ff. The Greeks seem to have deemed curses of special efficacy to promote the fertility of the ground; for we are told that when a Greek sowed cummin he was expected to utter imprecations or the corn would not turn out well. See Theophrastus, Historia plantarum vii.3.3, ix.8.8; Plut. Quaest. Conviv. vii.2.3; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xix.120. Roman writers mention a like custom observed by the sowers of rue and basil. See Palladius, De re rustica, iv.9; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xix.120. As to the beneficent effect of curses, when properly directed, see further The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, i.278ff.

12 Compare Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.369ff., who as usual follows Apollodorus. According to Diod. 4.27.3, after Herakles had slain Busiris, he ascended the Nile to Ethiopia and there slew Emathion, king of Ethiopia.

13 As to Herakles and Prometheus, see Diod. 4.15.2; Paus. 5.11.6; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.370ff.; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.1248, iv.1396; Hyginus, Ast. ii.15; Hyginus, Fab. 31, 54, and 144; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 6.42. The Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.1248 agrees with Apollodorus as to the parentage of the eagle which preyed on Prometheus, and he cites as his authority Pherecydes; hence we may surmise that Apollodorus is following the same author in the present passage. The time during which Prometheus suffered on the Caucasus was said by Aeschylus to be thirty thousand years (Hyginus, Ast. ii.15); but Hyginus, though he reports this in one passage, elsewhere reduces the term of suffering to thirty years (Hyginus, Fab. 54, 144).

14 The reference seems to be to the crown of olive which Herakles brought from the land of the Hyperboreans and instituted as the badge of victory in the Olympic games. See Pind. O. 3.11(20)ff.; Paus. 5.7.7. The ancients had a curious notion that the custom of wearing crowns or garlands on the head and rings on the fingers was a memorial of the shackles once worn for their sake by their great benefactor Prometheus among the rocks and snows of the Caucasus. In order that the will of Zeus, who had sworn never to release Prometheus, might not be frustrated by the entire liberation of his prisoner from his chains, Prometheus on obtaining his freedom was ordered to wear on his finger a ring made out of his iron fetters and of the rock to which he had been chained; hence, in memory of their saviour's sufferings, men have worn rings ever since. The practice of wearing crowns or garlands was explained by some people in the same way. See Hyginus, Ast. ii.15; Serv. Verg. Ecl. 6.42; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxvii.2; Isidore, Orig. xix.32.1. According to one version of the legend, the crown which the sufferer on regaining his liberty was doomed to wear was a crown of willow; and the Carians, who used to crown their brows with branches of willow, explained that they did so in imitation of Prometheus. See Athenaeus xv.11-13, pp. 671-673 EB. In the present passage of Apollodorus, if the text is correct, Herakles, as the deliverer of Prometheus, is obliged to bind himself vicariously for the prisoner whom he has released; and he chooses to do so with his favourite olive. Similarly he has to find a substitute to die instead of Prometheus, and he discovers the substitute in Chiron. As to the substitution of Chiron for Prometheus, see Apollod. 2.5.4. It is remarkable that, though Prometheus was supposed to have attained to immortality and to be the great benefactor, and even the creator, of mankind, he appears not to have been worshipped by the Greeks; Lucian says that nowhere were temples of Prometheus to be seen (Lucian, Prometheus 14).

15 The passage in angular brackets is wanting in the manuscripts of Apollodorus, but is restored from the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iv.1396, who quotes as his authority Pherecydes, the writer here seemingly followed by Apollodorus. See the Critical Note. The story of the contest of wits between Herakles and Atlas is represented in one of the extant metopes of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, which were seen and described by Paus. 5.10.9. See Frazer, note on Pausanias (vol. iii. pp. 524ff.).

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