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[5]

And having come to Calydon, Hercules wooed Deianira, daughter of Oeneus.1 He wrestled for her hand with Achelous, who assumed the likeness of a bull; but Hercules broke off one of his horns.2 So Hercules married Deianira, but Achelous recovered the horn by giving the horn of Amalthea in its stead. Now Amalthea was a daughter of Haemonius, and she had a bull's horn, which, according to Pherecydes, had the power of supplying meat or drink in abundance, whatever one might wish.3


1 When Herakles went down to hell to fetch up Cerberus, he met the ghost of Meleager, and conversing with him proposed to marry the dead hero's sister, Deianira. The story of the match thus made, not in heaven but in hell, is told by Bacch. 5.165ff., ed. Jebb, and seems to have been related by Pindar in a lost poem (Scholiast on Hom. Il. xxi.194). As to the marriage of Herakles with Deianira at Calydon, the home of her father Oeneus, see also Diod. 4.34.1.

2 On the struggle of Herakles with the river Achelous, see Soph. Trach. 9-21; Diod. 4.35.3ff.; Dio Chrysostom lx.; Scholiast on Hom. Il. xxi.194; Ov. Met. 9.1-88; Hyginus, Fab. 31; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 20, 131 (First Vatican Mythographer 58; Second Vatican Mythographer 165). According to Ovid, the river-god turned himself first into a serpent and then into a bull. The story was told by Archilochus, who represented the river Achelous in the form of a bull, as we learn from the Scholiast on Hom. Il.xxi.194. Diodorus rationalized the legend in his dull manner by supposing that it referred to a canal which the eminent philanthropist Herakles dug for the benefit of the people of Calydon.

3 According to some, Amalthea was the goat on whose milk the infant Zeus was fed. From one of its horns flowed ambrosia, and from the other flowed nectar. See Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus 48ff., with the Scholiast. According to others, Amalthea was only the nymph who owned the goat which suckled the god. See Eratosthenes, Cat. 13; Hyginus, Ast. ii.13; Ovid, Fasti v.115ff. Some said that, in gratitude for having been nurtured on the animal's milk, Zeus made a constellation of the goat and bestowed one of its horns on the nymphs who had reared him, at the same time ordaining that the horn should produce whatever they asked for. See Zenobius, Cent. ii.48. As to the horn, see A. B. Cook, Zeus, i.501ff.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 518
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Trachiniae, 7
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