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The Lernaean Hydra, Chiragan Relief

The Lernaean Hydra, Chiragan Relief

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Historical significance: The design can be roughly dated by the appearance of the same composition in an architectural relief on the Porta della Rana of the Duomo at Como (1507). It represents the second labour, the killing of the several-headed monster with ravaged the country of Lerna. Each time a head was cut off, two more grew in its place. Hercules overcame the creature, with a companion's help, using a burning torch to seal each neck, and burying the last immortal head under a rock.

This plaquette, depicting Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra is made by the Master of the Labours of Hercules, who was a follower of Moderno.

The design can be roughly dated by the appearance of the same composition in an architectural relief on the Porta della Rana of the Duomo at Como (1507). It represents the second labour, the killing of the several-headed monster with ravaged the country of Lerna. Each time a head was cut off, two more grew in its place. Hercules overcame the creature, with a companion's help, using a burning torch to seal each neck, and burying the last immortal head under a rock.

  • 'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 68
  • Maclagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1924, p. 32
  • Pope-Hennessy, John. Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Reliefs - Plaquettes - Statuettes - Utensils and Mortars . London: 1965, p. 51, no 167
  • Martini, Luciana. Piccoli bronzi e placchette del Museo Nazionale di Ravenna. Bologna: University Press, 1985, pp. 155-156, no 36

The Lernaean Hydra, Chiragan Relief - History

President Donald Trump is moving swiftly to keep his campaign promise of regulatory relief for American business despite the efforts of the entrenched bureaucracy, and his latest Executive Order to place regulatory reform task forces inside every federal agency is an inspired move to embed the reformers as moles inside the entrenched bureaucracy.

Recall in Greek mythology that Hercules was ordered by Eurystheus to slay the Lernaean Hydra as one of his tasks to atone for his sin of slaying his own children in a mad rage. The Lernaean Hydra was a nine-headed beast raised by Hera to kill Hercules and was immortal as long as one of its nine heads lived. The problem was that each time a head was severed from the beast two more grew back in its place, thus making the task of slaying it impossible for anyone but a hero. It took ingenuity on Hercules’ part to realize that dipping his arrows in the poisonous blood of the Hydra would kill the headless stump and prevent new heads from growing. At least that’s one version of the myth. Another was that Hercules had his nephew Iolaus cauterize each neck stump with a firebrand to prevent new heads from growing back. Apparently, like Hollywood, the Greeks weren’t above creating an alternate ending when the retelling of a popular myth began to grow stale. But, I digress.

The Founding Fathers sought to create a new nation conceived in liberty whereby its citizens would exercise liberty to the maximum extent possible so long as it was tempered by personal responsibility. Only when the citizens failed to exercise personal responsibility would laws be needed to redress abuses of liberty. This was an inspired idea that allowed our new nation to explode with growth and opportunity. Where civilization grew to be too much of a burden on men, they traveled westward to inhabit the frontier and live as free men just as the Founders intended. Many of these hardy pioneers were merely restless men unable to content themselves with the comforts of civilization and seeking adventure on the frontier. Some, like the whiskey makers of western Pennsylvania who fled to the Kentucky frontier in the wake of the Whiskey Rebellion, were seeking to escape taxation and the growing fiscal burden of government.

The Founders experimented with a weak federal government under the Articles of Confederation, but found its structure insufficient to resolve disputes between the states. They feared these disputes would grow to the point that individual states might go to war with each other to the delight of Europeans still incensed at America’s insurgency against its old order. The Founders realized that a strong federal government was necessary to align the interests of the states to the common goal of forming a nation that could resist the usurpations of European nations and protect the liberty won so dearly with the Revolutionary War. The government they created and documented with the Constitution has continued to serve America well by aligning her states and protecting our liberty from foreign encroachment.

In less than 400 years, America went from discovery to the world’s lone superpower with the highest standard of living in world history thanks to the creative genius of the Founders and their revolutionary idea of maximizing liberty for its citizens. This liberty freed Americans to engage in commerce under the free enterprise system so that they could identify needs and establish the means to satisfy those needs at a profit. An American’s hard work provided goods and services to others at a profit which allowed that American to satisfy his own needs through the hard work of other Americans. America’s standard of living quickly rose from that of the Pilgrims who struggled that first winter just to survive to the immense wealth enjoyed by Americans today.

In the Twentieth Century, the attitude of government began to change from that of promoting free enterprise to that of regulating business and stifling the free enterprise system all in the name of consumer protection. The origins of this shift in attitude lies in the Progressive Era under President Theodore Roosevelt with muckrakers like Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell who wrote scathing exposés of industries and institutions. Abuses did occur and did require redress, which Congress was all too happy to oblige in the protection of their constituents who were understandably upset over revelations to which they had previously been happily ignorant. Federal agencies were created to oversee the production of food and medicine, regulate labor to prevent the exploitation of children and improve safety, and curb the most egregious abuses of consumer manipulation through advertising among other things.

The curse of creating regulatory agencies lies in the fact that once the egregious situations they were created to redress have been regulated and policed their bureaucratic staffs grow bored and begin to look for other grievances to redress in a never ending cycle of regulation. The Food and Drug Administration went from ridding the public of patent medicine that ranged from merely intoxicating whiskey to dangerous concoctions harmful to consumers to an agency which now forces pharmaceutical companies to invest years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars in expensive trials to guarantee the efficacy of their creations before controlled release to the public. While mostly a noble effort, their adherence to bureaucratic legalism even extends to the area of drugs for terminally ill patients who do not enjoy the luxury of waiting years for drugs that might prevent them from dying today just to ensure they aren’t harmed by those drugs.

One key component of the federal bureaucracy as it exists today was passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 which established that federal government positions should be awarded on the basis of merit rather than political affiliation. While initially covering only about 10% of the government’s civilian employees, a key provision allowed outgoing presidents to lock in their appointees by converting their jobs to civil service positions, and a series of successive party reversals at the presidential level (1884 – 1896) resulted in most federal jobs being placed under civil service.

To ensure fairness in the civil service workforce and prevent politicians from bypassing the intent of the law through loopholes, an extensive series of rules were developed to protect civil service employees from being fired as long as they adhered to the rules even though they might be incompetent. The result of these civil service rules has been the creation of bureaucracies unaccountable to the voters and unable to be fired due to incompetence. These unaccountable bureaucracies grow legalistic and uncaring as they focus on obeying the rules to protect their jobs at the expense of providing needed customer service that actually assists Americans forced by the agency rules to deal with its bureaucracy.

The combination of agencies created to regulate along with civil service rules protecting regulating bureaucrats has created the present regulatory hydra bedeviling business and stifling the American economy. Regulators charged with regulating are regulating to such a fine degree of accuracy because they have already regulated the most pressing problems out of existence. Their regulations are strangling business and the economy as they seek to regulate increasingly farfetched scenarios with staggering compliance costs that accomplish no real consumer protection and only serve to give the bureaucrats an excuse to justify their continued existence.

President Ronald Reagan addressed this regulatory hydra with the creation of the Grace Commission whose mission was to identify burdensome regulations strangling the American economy. Led by businessman J. Peter Grace, the commission released its report identifying numerous unnecessary and burdensome regulations none of which were ever actually repealed as Congress promptly ignored their work. The commission projected that the federal debt would reach $13 trillion by 2000 if its reforms were ignored and only $2.5 trillion if they were enacted. The federal debt reached $13 trillion after the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008. Even President Reagan, as committed a man against bureaucracy and unnecessary government regulations as ever existed, couldn’t make a dent in the regulatory hydra with his commission and its recommendations.

Having learned from President Reagan’s experience, President Trump seeks to embed the regulatory reformers directly in each federal agency to force change from within. As embedded personnel, these reformers will be on the front lines of regulatory agencies able to note those bureaucrats who are compliant with the process of regulatory reform and those who are resistant. This invaluable information will allow steps to be taken to increase the pace of regulatory reform, but creation of regulatory reform task forces inside federal agencies will not be enough to slay the bureaucratic hydra. Recall that the Obama administration successfully sidelined the Inspectors General embedded within each federal agency to prevent bureaucratic fraud, waste, and abuse. To cauterize the stump left by the removal of a bureaucratic hydra head, Congress must act to reform the civil service to make bureaucrats more accountable to the voters, but even this is not enough. Congress must also act to reclaim the power it unconstitutionally ceded to the Executive Branch through creation of these federal agencies. These regulatory agencies must be reformed so that they only have the power to issue recommendations to Congress which then must vote on the enactment of laws based on these recommendations. This reform would prevent regulatory abuse by entrenched bureaucrats unaccountable to the voters or directly to Congress and restore voter accountability to the rulemaking process by placing it back under the control of Congress.

The Constitution clearly defines the power of each branch of the federal government and explicitly forbids one branch from ceding its power to another branch. In creating these federal agencies, Congress granted them the power to create rules with the binding power of law which only Congress was granted by the Constitution. Furthermore, these federal agencies were placed under the administration of the Executive Branch, a clear violation of the Constitution’s transfer of powers prohibition. Congress unconstitutionally transferred its ability to make laws to federal agencies under the Executive Branch and reduced its role to that of a mere budget administrator with no determination in the regulatory rules being developed by the Executive Branch. To further illustrate, the president, through his role as head of the Executive Branch of the federal government, has, through creation of these regulatory agencies, the power to both make laws and administer them in a clear violation of the Constitution.

It is this concentration of power that allowed Obama to harass his political opponents through such nefarious means as directing the IRS to deny tax exempt status to TEA Party political groups and directing the EPA to regulate the coal industry out of business to appease his environmental constituents. As president, Obama controlled the bureaucrats who reviewed applications to grant tax-exempt status and created the regulations that priced industries out of business. Liberal snowflakes are melting all over the place because President Trump is now in control of this regulatory machine and seeking to pare it back to the quick to place it at the service of Americans instead of the liberal entrenched interests.

President Trump has seized the initiative by issuing Executive Orders like his predecessor, but he has also learned from Obama that the power of Executive Orders is fleeting unless it is transferred by Congress into duly enacted laws. Obama was slow to recognize the opportunity to abuse the privilege of Executive Orders and failed to properly think through the strategy. His experience is being exploited by President Trump to radically transform the federal government using the ideas of disruptive technology that he so successfully used to transform the staid New York real estate market and enrich himself. His challenge now is to get a recalcitrant GOP-led Congress to get behind his strategy and enact the laws that will cement his disruptive transformation throughout the federal bureaucracy.

The bureaucratic hydra is a fearsome beast that is almost impossible to slay for anyone but the most committed champion of the American people. President Trump has proven his ability and willingness to fight on our behalf, and we must continue supporting his efforts if we are to have any hope of restoring our liberty and our country. We must identify those in Congress who remain as obstacles to President Trump’s agenda and remove them from office in the next election. We must make ourselves heard so that our pleas which have been ignored for far too long are finally acted upon. The bureaucratic hydra can be slain, but only through ingenuity and fierce, hard fighting. We must recognize that we are finally winning and take hope from this realization. And, we must endeavor to remain vigilant lest we allow others to take our liberty away from us.

Labors of Hercules: Second, to Thin the Lernaean Hydra

The second step of preliminary works according to mythological Labors of Hercules: to thin, disperse, volatilize the raw salts. To let Mercurius/Secret Fire out.

Or, in a more traditional alchemical language, to turn the raw matter’s earth into philosophical water. Our water that doesn’t wet hands, but still keeps flowing property. In fact a raw matter is really opened only when Spirits are allowed to come out. What the preliminary works are about.

Jean Pierre Fabre in his “Hercules Piochymicus” 1634, an alchemical explication of the mythological Labors of Hercules, managed to not respect the strict position stated by ancient greek mythology even for the Learnean Hydra, in fact after having arbitrarily placed the Nemean Lion in third leading, the Hydra was instead given the honor to open the list, as first, just because the misplacing of the lion had left the position empty. However, I agree with the french physician’s general meaning of the overall labor: to extract the watery seed of metals from the raw matter. Nevertheless Fabre’s chapter on the Hydra doesn’t go any further from this basic concept. For instance he doesn’t mention the reason of the monster’s heads numbers, why the eighth head was immortal, the circumstance of the Hydra being supported by a crab, the indispensable involvement of Iolaos, the conservation of the Hydra’s venom as powerful medicine and cooking weapon/tool.

We know the story: having been survived and winner on the Nemean Lion, Hercules put up with the Ὑδρα Λερναια, Hydra Lernaia, a monster oppressing the Lerna swamps. But for each of the monster’s heads he cut off, two more sprang forth. So he called Iolaos to burn the Hydra’s stumps and so preventing the heads regeneration. A giant crab came to assist the Hydra, but remained crushed under Hercules heel. Athena came and suggested Hercules to keep the Hydra venom as weapon and medicine. Once the flames had prevented the growth of replacement heads Hercules managed to have the better of the beast, he could remove and destroy the eight mortal head, and finally chopped off the ninth (or better, the eighth), immortal head. This he buried at the side of the road leading from Lerna to Elaeus, and for good measure, he covered it with a heavy rock. As for the rest of the hapless hydra, Hercules slit open the corpse and dipped his arrows in the venomous blood.

Eurystheus was not impressed with Hercules’ battle, however. He said that since Iolaos had helped his uncle, this labor should not count as one of the ten. So, as we will see, another labor will be added.

Eventually Hera has to admit the defeat and will place Hydra and Crab among stars as constellations. Let’s see what ancient authors say on this Heracles second labor, and discover on the features of the second part of our preliminary operations:

The Second Labor.

Pseudo­Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 77 ­ 80 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) : “For his second labour Herakles was instructed to slay the Lernaian Hydra”.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 11. 5 (trans. Old father) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) : “The second Labour which he [Herakles] undertook was the slaying of the Lernaian Hydra.”

The second labor is a direct consequence of the opening of the fixed raw matter/Nemean Lion: Once opened the matter the power of the Spiritus/Secret Fire/Mercurius comes to light (see and Opus Magnum scheme).

The Origin of the Hydra.

Hesiod, Theogony 313 ff (trans. Evelyn­ White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) : “And third again she [Echidna] bore the grisly­ minded Lernaian Hydra, whom the goddess white­ armed Hera nourished because of her quenchless grudge against the strong Herakles. Yet he, Herakles, son of Zeus, of the line of Amphitryon, by design of Athene the spoiler and with help form warlike Iolaos, killed this beast with the pitiless bronze sword.”

Pseudo­Hyginus, Fabulae 151 : “From Typhon the giant and Echidna were born . . . the Hydra which Hercules killed by the spring of Lerna.”

Hydra’s mother, Echidna, is in her turn a mercurial serpent born of Ea and Tartar. Typhon, the father, is a representation of the Primitive Mercurius. It is clear enough that this monstrous family is the same substance in three different stages: from Typhon, the uncatchable Spirit, to Hydra, the alchemical extraction of the Spirit.

Hercules is always the alchemist, but this time he needs Iolaos, that’s to say fire and special vessels. If during the Nemean Lion’s step the alchemist could simply put the raw matter to putrefy in a closed vessel and allow vapors-spirits to separate from the corpse, in the second step he has to apply fire/heat/or another dispersing method, to have the saline corpse volatilized along with the spirits.

The Hydra as a Water Serpent.

Strabo, Geography 8. 6. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) : “The river Lerna, as it is called, bearing the same name as the marsh in which is laid the scene of the myth of the Hydra.” Strabo, Geography 8. 6. 6 : “Lake Lerna, the scene of the story of the Hydra, lies in Argeia and the Mykenean territory.”

Pseudo­Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 77 ­ 80 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) : “…….The beast was nurtured in the marshes of Lerna.”

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 37. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) : ”At the source of the Amymone [near Lerna, Argolis] grows a plane tree, beneath which, they say, the Hydra (Water ­snake) grew. I am ready to believe that this beast was superior in size to other water ­snakes, and that its poison had something in it so deadly that Herakles treated the points of his arrows with its gall.”

The result of these volatilizations-dispersions is a watery substance. Watery as element Water. Not just a liquid, of course, but a flowing, more than often gaseous, substance. Serpent, as synonym of our Mercurius.

Athena’s Intervention.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 5. 17. 11 :
“[Amongst the illustrations on the chest of Kypselos dedicated at Olympia :] Heracles, with Athena standing beside him, is shooting at the Hydra, the beast in the river Amymone.”

Athena is the goddess in charge to teach the Knowledge. She is the alchemists patroness.

The Nine-headed Hydra.

Alcaeus, Fragment 443 (from Schoiast on Hesiod’s Theogony) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C6th B.C.) : “The Hydra is called nine ­headed by Alcaeus, fifty­ headed by Simonides.”

Simonides, Fragment 569 (from Servius on Virgil’s Aeneid) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C6th to 5th B.C.) : “One hundred snakes as in Simonides, as we said above [he spoke of Simonides fifty­ headed Hydra] others say there were nine.”

Pseudo­Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) : “From Typhon and Echidna [was born] : . . . Hydra serpent which had nine heads which Hercules killed, and Draco Hesperidum.”

Suidas s.v. Hydra : “Hydra : Nine ­headed snake.”

From six to eight repetitions of these salts volatilizations. The eighth volatilization gives rise to a ninth, the immortal one.

Regenerating Stumps.

Plato, Euthydemus 297c (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
“[Plato uses the myth of the Hydra as a metaphor for argument :] Herakles, who was no match for the Hydra . . . who was so clever that she sent forth many heads . . . in place of each one that was cut off…….”

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 69 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“[Herakles addresses the shape­ shifting river ­god Akhelous :] `Mastering Dracones is child’s play, Achelous! Yes, if you were champion serpent, how could you compare with Echidna Lernaea [Hydra], you a single snake? It throve on wounds: of all its hundred heads I cut off one but from its neck two more sprang to succeed it, stronger than before! Yes, though it branched with serpents sprung from death, and multiplied on doom, I mastered it, and, mastered, I dispatched it.'”

Ovid, Metamorphoses 9. 192 ff :
“The Hydra’s gain from loss, with doubled strength, was all in vain [i.e. against the might of Herakles].”

Ovid, Heroides 9. 87 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
“[Herakles] told of the deeds . . . The fertile serpent that sprang forth again from the fruitful wound, grown rich from her own hurt.”

Nonnus, Dionysiaca 25. 196 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
“[Herakles] took all that trouble to liberate some little snaky brook like Lerna, by cutting down the self-growing first fruits of the lurking serpent, as that plentiful crop of snakeheads grew spiking up. If only he had done the killing alone! Instead of calling in his distress for Iolaos, to destroy the heads as they grew afresh, by lifting a burning torch until the two together managed to get the better of one female serpent . . . cutting down a bush of heads which ever grew again on so many necks.”

Suidas s.v. Hydran temnein (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek Lexicon C10th A.D.) :
“Hydran temnein (you are cutting off a hydra) : Said of things that are hopeless for the story goes that when Herakles was fighting a Hydra in Lerna which had a hundred heads, and as the heads were cut off more grew, he ordered Iolaos to burn the cut ones.”

At each repeated volatilization, the substance is improved and each section can grow into a whole “seed of matter”. This aspect must be dexterously mastered by fire/head/other dispersing method.

One Hydra’s Head as Immortal-Gold.

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 2 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
“Aristonikos of Tarenton says that the middle head of the Hydra was of gold.”

Pseudo­Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 77 ­ 80 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
“For his second labour Herakles was instructed to slay the Lernaian Hydra. The beast was nurtured in the marshes of Lerna, from where she would go out onto the flatland to raid flocks and ruin the land. The Hydra was of enormous size, with eight mortal heads, and a ninth one in the middle that was immortal. With Iolaos driving, Herakles rode a chariot to Lerna, and there, stopping the horses, he found the Hydra on a ridge beside the springs of Amymone where she nested. By throwing flaming spears at her he forced her to emerge, and as she did he was able to catch hold. But she hung on to him by wrapping herself round one of his feet, and he was unable to help matters by striking her with his club, for as soon as one head was pounded off two others would grow in its place. Then a giant crab came along to help the Hydra, and bit Herakles on the foot. For this he killed the crab, and called on his own behalf to Iolaos for help. Iolaos made some torches by setting fire to a portion of the adjoining woods, and, by using these to burn the buddings of the heads, he kept them from growing. When he had overcome this problem, Herakles lopped off the immortal head, which he buried and covered with a heavy boulder at the side of the road that runs through Lerna to Elaios.”

The repetition after the sixth or the eighth produces the seventh or ninth, the immortal ones, therefore indestructible. Sometimes called “philosophers gold”.

Hercules buried it at the side of the road leading from Lerna to Elaeus, and for good measure, he covered it with a heavy rock. That’s to say: only the last immortal head, the philosophical gold will become a “stone”.

The Victory by Fire.

Seneca, Hercules Furens 241 ff : “[The labors of Herakles :] Lerna’s fell monster, pest manifold, did he not quell at last by fire and teach to die?”

Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 7. 623 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) : “The Tirynthian [Herakles] wearied in fight against the Hydra’s dreadful hosts turned to the fires of Pallas [Athene who suggested to the hero this means of destroying the creature].”

Statius, Thebaid 2. 375 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) : “The marsh of Lerna and the burnt Hydra’s heat makes warm the depths of those unrighteous waters.”

Salts volatilizations are performed inside closed, and specifically made, vessels. The methods can be more than one: fire, balneum, circulating vessels, alembics, sun beams, or specific salts which can produce reactions and/or risings, or other physic dispersing systems. In addition we cannot underestimate the power of an alcahest already prepared. All that is summarized with the definition “by fire”.

Because of the intervention of Iolaos/fire, Eurystheus decreed this labor should not count as one of the ten.

The Giant problem of the Volatile Crab.

Plato, Euthydemus 297c (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) : . . . [and a] crab . . . from the sea­­freshly, I fancy, arrived on shore and, when the hero was so bothered with its leftward barks and bites, he summoned his nephew Iolaos to the rescue, and he brought him effective relief.”

The crab cannot but be giant, of course, since the problem it arises is really a huge one among alchemists. The crab is an allegorical representation of the mercurial volatility. Mercurial, because it is being born by the Moon, the mercurial mother for antonomasia. The volatility of the substances inside the alchemist/Hercules vessel during the salts volatilization can, and actually is, a problem, but Hercules is skilled enough to neutralize the challenge.

Lernean Hydra GFBPUR

HYDRA LERNAIA was a gigantic, nine-headed water-serpent, which haunted the swamps of Lerna. Herakles was sent to destroy her as one of his twelve labours, but for each of her heads that he decapitated, two more sprang forth. So with the help of Iolaos, he applied burning brands to the severed stumps, cauterizing the wounds and preventing regeneration. In the battle he also crushed a giant crab beneath his heel which had come to assist Hydra. The Hydra and the Crab were afterwards placed amongst the stars by Hera as the Constellations Hydra and Cancer.
[1.1] TYPHOEUS & EKHIDNA (Hesiod Theogony 313, Hyginus Pref & Fab 30 & 151)
[1.2] EKHIDNA (Ovid Metamorphoses 9.69)

HYDRA. This monster, like the lion, was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna, and was brought up by Hera. It ravaged the country of Lernae near Argos, and dwelt in a swamp near the well of Amymone: it was formidable by its nine heads, the middle of which was immortal. Heracles, with burning arrows, hunted up the monster, and with his club or a sickle he cut off its heads but in the place of the head he cut off, two new ones grew forth each time, and a gigantic crab came to the assistance of the hydra, and wounded Heracles. However, with the assistance of his faithful servant Iolaus, he burned away the heads of the hydra, and buried the ninth or immortal one under a huge rock. Having thus conquered the monster, he poisoned his arrows with its bile, whence the wounds inflicted by them became incurable. Eurystheus declared the victory unlawful, as Heracles had won it with the aid of Iolaus. (Hes. Theog. 313, &c. Apollod. ii. 5. § 2 Diod. iv. 11 Eurip. Herc. Fur. 419, 1188, Ion, 192 Ov. Met. ix. 70 Virg. Aen. viii. 300 Paus. ii. 36. § 6, 37. § 4, v. 5. § 5 Hygin. Fab. 30.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.

This bronze plaquette depicts Hercules standing naked, except for a lion's skin, lifting a club (not seen) with his right hand. With his left hand he throttles the hydra, a monster with a woman's head and breasts and a serpent's body with five serpents around its head.

The second labour of Hercules was to kill the Lernean Hydra.

This bronze plaquette depicts Hercules standing naked, except for a lion's skin, lifting a club (not seen) with his right hand. With his left hand he throttles the hydra, a monster with a woman's head and breasts and a serpent's body with five serpents around its head.

The second labour of Hercules was to kill the Lernean Hydra.

  • List of Objects in the Art Division South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1893. Arranged according to the dates of acquisition, with appendix and indices. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1894. pp. 152.
  • MacLagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes. Victoria and Albert Museum. London. 1924. pp.38

Third Labour: Ceryneian Hind

Hercules captures the Ceryneian Hind, statuette by J.M. Felix Magdalena.

Eurystheus and Hera were greatly angered to find that Hercules had managed to escape from the claws of the Nemean Lion and the fangs of the Lernaean Hydra, and so decided to spend more time thinking up a third task that would spell doom for the hero. The third task did not involve killing a beast, as it had already been established that Hercules could overcome even the most fearsome opponents, so Eurystheus decided to make him capture the Ceryneian Hind, as it was so fast it could outrun an arrow.

After beginning the search, Hercules awoke from sleeping and he could see the hind from the glint on its antlers. Hercules then chased the hind on foot for a full year through Greece, Thrace, Istria and the land of the Hyperboreans. In some versions, he captured the hind while it slept, rendering it lame with a trap net. In other versions, he encountered Artemis in her temple and she told him to leave the hind and tell Eurystheus all that had happened and his third labor would be considered to be completed. Yet another version claims that Heracles trapped the Hind with an arrow between the forelegs of the creature.

Eurystheus had given Hercules this task hoping to incite Artemis' anger at Hercules for his desecration of her sacred animal. As he was returning with the hind, Hercules encountered Artemis and her brother Apollo. He begged the goddess for forgiveness, explaining that he had to catch it as part of his penance, but he promised to return it. Artemis forgave him, foiling Eurystheus' plan to have her punish him.

Upon bringing the hind to Eurystheus, he was told that it was to become part of the King's menagerie. Hercules knew that he had to return the hind as he had promised, so he agreed to hand it over on the condition that Eurystheus himself come out and take it from him. The King came out, but the moment Hercules let the hind go, it sprinted back to its mistress, and Heracles left saying that Eurystheus had not been quick enough. Eurystheus, upset that Heracles had managed to overcome yet another creature, told him to bring the fearsome Erymanthian Boar back to him alive.

LERNAEAN HYDRA – TWELVE LABOURS OF HERCULES – 2019 2 oz Pure Silver Coin – Mint of Poland – Niue

The 2 oz High Relief Pure silver coin is finished in an antique finish and rimless with selective mat gold gilding.

Each coin is packed in a beautiful wood case with a colorful graphic dust jacket and has a numbered certificate of authenticity from the Mint of Poland.

Hercules was married to Megara, the daughter of King Kreo of Thebes, and together they had five children. Unfortunately, the goddess Hera drove Hercules insane in a fit of jealousy and he killed his wife and children.

Driven mad by Hera (queen of the gods), Hercules slew his son, daughter, and wife Megara. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his actions he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, advised him to go to Tiryns and serve his cousin King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing whatever labours Eurystheus might set him in return, he would be rewarded with immortality. Hercules despaired at this, loathing to serve a man whom he knew to be far inferior to himself, yet fearing to oppose his father Zeus. Eventually, he placed himself at Eurystheus’s disposal.

Eurystheus originally ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to recognize two: the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules’ nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him and the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules accepted payment for the labour. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules also performed, bringing the total number of tasks to twelve.


  • Low Mintage of 500 coins worldwide !
  • High Relief
  • Fantastic Artwork on both obverse and reverse sides of the coin
  • Uniform obverse throughout the series, gold gilding will highlight the theme.
  • Serial Number engraved on rim with matching serial number


  • Ceryneian Hind (2019)
  • Erymanthian Boar (2019)
  • Augean stables (2020)
  • Stymphalian birds (2020)
  • Cretan Bull (2021)
  • Mares of Diomedes (2021)
  • Belt of Hippolyta (2022)
  • Cattle of Geryon (2022)
  • Golden Apples of the Hesperides (2023)
  • Cerberus (2023)


Features: High Relief (2.7 mm)and Selective Gold Gilding
Mintage: 500
Material: Pure Silver (99.99%)
Edge: Smooth with Serial Number
Condition: Antique Finish
Weight: 2 oz
Diameter: 45 mm
Face Value: $5.00 Dollars

Hesiod, Theogony

Let me begin to sing of the Muses of Helikon, who abide on the great and holy Mount Helikon. Around the deep-blue spring, with dainty feet, they dance, and around the altar of the mighty son of Kronos. 5 Washing their tender skin in the waters of the Permessos or of the Horse’s Spring or of holy Olmeios, they set up their choral songs-and-dances on the highest point of Helikon. Beautiful and lovely, these [these songs-and-dances]. They are nimble with their feet. Starting from there [the top of Helikon], covered in plenty of mist [invisible], 10 they go about at night, sending forth a very beautiful voice, singing of Zeus the aegis-bearer and lady Hera of Argos, who walks about in golden sandals, and the daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus, Athena, and Phoebus Apollo and Artemis who shoots her arrows, 15 and Poseidon, the earth-holder and earth-shaker, and the honorable Themis as well as Aphrodite, whose eyes go from side to side, and Hebe with the golden garland, and beautiful Dione, and Leto, Iapetos, and Kronos with his devious plans, and the Dawn [Eos] and the great Sun [Helios] and the bright Moon [Selene], 20 and the Earth [Gaia] and great Okeanos and dark Night [Nyx], and the sacred genos of all the other immortals, who are forever.

22 [It was the Muses] who taught me, Hesiod, 1 their beautiful song. 23 It happened when I was tending flocks of sheep in a valley of Helikon, that holy mountain. 24 And the very first thing that the goddesses said to me, 25 those Muses of Mount Olympus, those daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis, was this wording [mūthos]: 26 “Shepherds camping in the fields, base objects of reproach, mere bellies! 27 We know how to say many deceptive things looking like genuine [etuma] things, 28 but we also know how, whenever we wish it, to proclaim things that are true [alēthea].” 2 29 That is how they spoke, those daughters of great Zeus, who have words [epea] that fit perfectly together, 30 and they gave me a scepter [skēptron], a branch of flourishing laurel, 31 having plucked it. And it was a wonder to behold. Then they breathed into me a voice [audē], 32 a godlike one, so that I may make glory [kleos] for things that will be and things that have been, 33 and then they told me to sing how the blessed ones [makares = the gods] were generated, the ones that are forever, 34 and that I should sing them [= the Muses] first and last.

35 But why should I care about those things that keep going around an oak or a rock? 3 Listen! Let me begin with the Muses, who please Zeus the father with their song, pleasing his great noos as he abides in Olympus. They tell of things that are, that will be, and that were before, having their words fitted together as they sound forth. And their voice pours forth without ever being worn down, 40 coming sweetly from their mouths. Glad is the palace of father Zeus the loud-thunderer over the delicate voice of the goddesses which reaches far and wide. It echoes against the peaks of snowy Olympus and the abodes of the immortals. And they [the Muses] send forth an immortal voice as they give kleos first to the genos of the gods, a matter of reverence, 45 starting from the beginning, telling about who were generated from Earth [Gaia] and the vast Sky [Ouranos], and what gods, givers of good things, were born from them. Next, they [the Muses] sing of Zeus, father of gods and men, both when they begin and when they end their song. They sing how much he is the most important of the gods and the greatest in power. 50 Then again, they sing of the genos of men and of the strong Giants, thus pleasing the noos of Zeus, who abides in Olympus.

They are the Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus. They were born in Pieria. The father was Zeus, son of Kronos. Their mother, who mated with him, was Mnemosyne [Memory], who rules over the heights of Eleuther. 55 They were born to be the forgetting of misfortunes and the cessation of worries. For nine nights did Zeus the Planner lie coupled with their mother, entering her holy bed, remote from the immortals. When a year was up, and the seasons came round as the months were waning and the many days were coming to fulfillment, 60 she [Mnemosyne] gave birth to nine daughters, all like-minded, who have song on their minds, in their breast. They have a thūmos without worries. There they are, poised to descend from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus. That is where they have their bright dancing-places and their beautiful abodes. Near them the Kharites [Graces] and Himeros [Desire] have their abodes, 65 amidst festivities. And they [the Muses], sending forth a lovely voice, sing and make kleos for the norms [nomoi] and accustomed ways of all the immortals, as they send forth a lovely voice.

Anyway, back then, they went to Olympus, glorying in their beautiful voice with immortal song. And the dark earth resounded all around them 70 as they sang, and the lovely steppings of their feet made a sound from below as they proceeded towards their father, the one who is king in the sky, with sole possession of the thunder and the gleaming thunderbolt, having defeated, with his power, Kronos his father. Each thing was well arranged by him, as he assigned the norms and marked out the tīmai 4 for the immortals. 75 These things, then, the Muses sang, they who have abodes in Olympus, the nine daughters begotten by great Zeus, Kleio [Clio] and Euterpe and Thaleia [Thalia, ‘Festivity’] and Melpomene and Terpsichore and Erato and Polyhymnia and Ourania [Urania] and Kalliope [Calliope]. That one [Calliope] is the most important of them all, 80 for she accompanies revered kings. 81 Whosoever among sky-nourished kings is honored [timân] by these daughters of great Zeus [= the Muses] 82 and is beheld by them when he is born, 83 for such a man they pour sweet dew upon his tongue, 84 and from his mouth flow sweet words. The people, 85 all of them, look towards him as he sorts out [dia-krinein] the divine laws [themis plural] 86 by way of straight judgments [dikai]. And he, speaking without stumbling 87 and with his powers of understanding, can even put an end to a great quarrel [neikos]. 5 88 It is for this reason that there are kings, kings with good thinking [phrenes], namely, because when people 89 are wronged in the assembly [agorā], they [= the kings] can turn things right around for them, 90 quite easily, speaking in a deflecting way by using soft words. 91 And when he [= the just king] goes to a gathering [agōn], the people turn to him as if he were a god, 92 because of his gentle command of respect [aidōs], and he stands out among the assembled. 93 Such is the sacred gift of the Muses for humankind. 94 For it is because of the Muses and far-shooting Apollo 95 that there are singers [aoidoi] and players of the lyre [kitharis] on this earth. 96 And it is because of Zeus that there are kings. Blessed [olbios] is he whom the Muses 97 love. And a sweet voice [audē] flows from his mouth. For when someone has sorrow [penthos] in his thūmos beset by new worries and is distressed by sorrow in his heart, and when the singer [poet], 100 therapōn of the Muses, sings the klea of men who came before and the blessed gods who abide in Olympus, right away such a man forgets [lēth-] his troubled thoughts, and his cares he no longer remembers [mnē-]. Quickly the gifts of the goddesses turn him away from these things.

Be pleased and show your pleasure, children of Zeus, by giving me a lovely song. 105 Give kleos to the holy genos of the immortals who have always been, who were born of Ge [Gaia] and starry Ouranos and of dark Night—the gods who were nurtured by the salty Pontos. Tell how the gods and the earth were generated at the very beginning, and the rivers and the boundless pontos, seething with waves, 110 and the shining stars and the vast sky above. Tell of the gods, givers of good things, who were generated from them, and how they divided up their wealth and how each one chose his or her tīmē. 6 And how in the very beginning they came to possess Olympus with its many ridges. Tell me these things, Olympian Muses, you who abide in Olympus, 115 tell it from the beginning, about what was generated first from among them all.

The Cosmogony

First it was Chaos, and next broad-bosomed Earth, ever secure seat of all the immortals, who inhabit the peaks of snow-capped Olympus, and dark dim Tartaros in a recess of Earth having-broad-ways, 120 and Eros [Love], who is most beautiful among immortal gods, Eros that relaxes the limbs, and in the breasts of all gods and all men, subdues their reason and prudent counsel. But from Chaos were born Erebos and black Night and from Night again sprang forth Aether and Day, 125 whom she bore after having conceived, by union with Erebos in love. And Earth bore first like to herself in size starry Sky, that he might shelter her around on all sides, that so she might be ever a secure seat for the blessed gods and she brought forth vast mountains, lovely haunts of deities, 130 the Nymphs who dwell along the woodland hills. She too bore also the barren Sea, rushing with swollen stream, the Pontos, I mean, without delightsome love but afterward, having bedded with Sky, she bore deep-eddying Okeanos, Koios and Kreios, Hyperion and Iapetos, 135 Thea and Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, and Phoebe with golden coronet, and lovely Tethys. And after these was born, youngest, wily Kronos, most savage of their children and he hated his vigor-giving father.

Then brought she forth next the Kyklopes [Cyclopes], having an over-bearing spirit: 140 Brontes, and Steropes, and stout-hearted Arges, who gave to Zeus his thunder, and forged his lightnings. Now these were in other respects, it is true, like to gods, but a single eye was fixed in their mid-foreheads. And Kyklopes was their appropriate name, because 145 in their foreheads one circular eye was fixed. 7 Strength, biē, and contrivances were in their works. But again, from Earth and Sky sprung other three sons, great and mighty, scarce to be mentioned, Kottos and Briareus and Gyas, children exceeding proud. 150 From the shoulders of these moved actively a hundred hands, not brooking approach, and to each above sturdy limbs there grew fifty heads from their shoulders.

Castration of Ouranos

Now monstrous strength is powerful, joined with vast size. For of as many sons as were born of Earth and Sky, 155 they were the fiercest, and were hated by their father from the very first: as soon as any of these was born, he would hide them all, and not send them up to the light, in a cave of the earth, and Sky exulted over the work of mischief, while huge Earth groaned from within, 160 straitened as she was and she devised a subtle and evil scheme. For quickly having produced a stock of white iron, she forged a large sickle, and gave the word to her children and said encouragingly, though troubled in her heart: “Children of me and of a father madly violent, if you 165 would obey me, we shall avenge the baneful injury of your father for he was the first that devised acts of indignity.” So spoke she, but fear seized on them all, nor did any of them speak till, having gathered courage, great and wily Kronos addressed his dear mother thus in reply: 170 “Mother, this deed at any rate I will undertake and accomplish, since for our father, of-detested-name, I care not, for he was the first that devised acts of indignity.” Thus spoke he, and huge Earth rejoiced much at heart, and hid and planted him in ambush: in his hand she placed 175 a sickle with jagged teeth, and suggested to him all the stratagem. Then came vast Sky bringing Night with him, and, eager for love, brooded around Earth, and lay stretched on all sides: but his son from out his ambush grasped at him with his left hand, while in his right he took the huge sickle, long and jagged-toothed, and hastily 180 mowed off the genitals of his father, and threw them backwards to be carried away behind him.

Not for no purpose did they slip from his hand for as many gory drops as jetted forth from there, Earth received them all and when the years rolled round, 185 she gave birth to stern Furies [Erinyes], and mighty Giants, gleaming in arms, with long spears in hand, and nymphs whom men call Ash-nymphs, [Meliai] over the boundless earth. But the genitals, as after first severing them with the steel, he had cast them into the heaving sea from the continent, 190 so kept drifting long time up and down the deep, and all around kept rising a white foam from the immortal flesh and in it a maiden was nourished first she drew near divine Kythera, and thence came next to wave-washed Cyprus. Then forth stepped an awesome, beauteous goddess and beneath her delicate feet the grass throve around: 195 gods and men name her Aphrodite, the foam-sprung goddess, and fair-wreathed Kytherea—the first because she was nursed in foam, but Kytherea, because she touched at Kythera and Cyprus-born, because she was born in wave-dashed Cyprus 200 and lover of smiles, 8 because she emerged out of the genitals. And Eros accompanied her and fair Desire followed her, when first she was born, and came into the host of the gods. And from the beginning this honor has she, and this part has she obtained by lot among men and immortal gods, 205 the amorous converse of maidens, their smiles and wiles, their sweet delights, their love, and blandishment.

Night and Her Children

Now those sons, their father, mighty Sky, called by surname Titans, upbraiding those whom he had himself begotten and he was accustomed to say that, out-stretching their hands in recklessness, they had wrought 210 a grave act, but that there should be vengeance for it hereafter. Night bore also hateful Destiny, and black Fate, and Death she bore Sleep likewise, she bore the tribe of dreams these did the goddess, gloomy Night bear after union with none. Next again Blame [Mōmos], and Care full-of-woes, 215 and the Hesperides, whose care are the fair golden apples beyond the famous Okeanos, and trees yielding fruit and she produced the Destinies [Moirai], and ruthlessly punishing Fates: Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who assign to men at their births to have good and evil 220 who also pursue transgressions both of men and gods, nor do the goddesses ever cease from dread wrath, before they have repaid sore vengeance to him, whosoever shall have sinned. Then pernicious Night also bore Nemesis, a woe to mortal men and after her she brought forth Fraud, and Wanton-love, 225 and mischievous Old Age, and stubborn-hearted Eris. But odious Eris gave birth to grievous Trouble, and Oblivion, and Famine, and tearful Woes, Contests and Slaughters, Fights and Homicides, Quarrelings [Neikos pl.], Falsehoods, Words, Disputes, 230 Lawlessness and Atē, intimates one of the other, and the Oath, which most hurts men on the earth, whensoever one has sworn voluntarily a perjured oath.

Pontos and His Descendants

And Pontos begat trusty and truthful Nereus, eldest indeed of his children, but men call him old, 235 because he is unerring as well as mild, neither does he forget the laws, but knows just and gentle purposes. And next again, by union with Earth, great Thaumas, and strong Phorkys, and Keto with fair-cheek, and Eurybia, having in her breast a soul of adamant. 240 From Nereus and fair-haired Doris, daughter of Okeanos, perfect stream, sprung lovely daughters of goddesses in the barren sea: Proto, Eukrante, Sao, and Amphitrite Eudora, Thetis, Galene, Glauke, 245 Kymothoe, Speio, Thoe, and charming Halia graceful Melite, and Eulimene, and Agaue, Pasithea, Erato, and rosy-armed Eunike, Doto and Proto, Pherousa, and Dynamene, Nesaia, and Aktaia, and Protomedeia, 250 Doris and Panope, and beauteous Galatea, lovely Hippothoe, and rosy-armed Hipponoe, and Kymothoe, who along with Kymatolege, and neat-ankled Amphitrite, calms with ease the waves on the misty sea, and the blasts of violent winds 255 Kymo and Eione, and Halimede with beauteous wreath, and blithe Glaukonome, and Pontoporeia, Leiagora, Euagore, Laomedeia, Polynome, Autonoe, and Lysianassa, and Euarne, both lovely in shape and in beauty faultless, 260 and Psamathe, graceful in person, and divine Menippe, Neso, Eupompe, Themisto, Pronoe, and Nemertes, who has the mind of her immortal father. These were born of blameless Nereus, fifty maidens, versed in blameless labors.

265 And Thaumas wedded Electra, daughter of deep-flowing Okeanos: she bore rapid Iris, and the fair-tressed Harpies, Aello and Okypete, who accompany the wind-blasts and birds, with swift wings, for they fly high above the earth. 270 But to Phorkys next Keto of-fair-cheek bore the Graiai, gray from their birth, whom in fact immortal gods as well as men walking on the ground call Graiai namely, Pemphredo handsomely-clad, and Enyo of saffron-vestment, and the Gorgons, who dwell beyond famous Okeanos, 275 in the most remote quarter night-ward, where are the clear-voiced Hesperides, Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa having-suffered sadly. The latter was mortal, but they, the other two, were immortal and ageless, and it was with that one [Medusa] that the azure-haired god lay in the soft meadow, and amid the flowers of spring. 280 From her too when, as the tale is, Perseus had cut off the head, up sprang huge Khrysaor and the steed Pegasus. To the latter came his name because he was born near the springs of Okeanos, while the other had a golden sword in his hands. And he indeed, winging his flight away, left Earth, the mother of flocks, 285 and came to the immortals in Zeus’s house he dwells, bearing to counselor Zeus thunder and lightning. But Khrysaor, by union with Kallirhoe, daughter of famous Okeanos, begat three-headed Geryon. Indeed then mighty Hēraklēs slew him, 290 amidst his trailing-footed oxen in sea-girt Erythia, on the very day when he drove the broad-browed oxen to sacred Tiryns, having crossed the path of Okeanos, and having slain beyond famous Okeanos Orthos, and the herdsman Eurytion in a dusky stall.

295 And she brought forth another monster, irresistible, in no way like mortal men, or immortal gods, in a hollow cavern the divine stubborn-hearted Echidna, half nymph, with dark eyes and fair cheeks and half, on the other hand, a serpent huge, and terrible, and vast, 300 speckled, and flesh-devouring, beneath caves of sacred Earth. For there is her cavern, deep under a hollow rock, far from immortal gods as well as mortal men: there have the gods assigned to her famous abodes to inhabit. But she, the destructive Echidna, was confined in Arima beneath the earth, 305 a nymph immortal, and all her days insensible to age. With her they say that Typhaon associated in love, a terrible and lawless ravisher for the dark-eyed maid. And she, having conceived, bore fierce-hearted children. The dog Orthos first she bore for Geryon, and next, 310 in the second place, she brought forth their irresistible and ineffable flesh-devourer Cerberus, dog of hell, with brazen voice and with fifty heads, a bold and strong beast. Thirdly, again she gave birth to the Lernaean Hydra subtle in destruction, whom Hera, white-armed goddess, reared, 315 implacably hating the mighty Hēraklēs. And Zeus’s son, Hēraklēs, named of Amphitryon—along with warlike Iolaos, and by the counsels of Pallas the despoiler—slaughtered it with ruthless sword.

But she [Echidna] bore Chimaera, breathing resistless fire, 320 fierce and huge, fleet-footed as well as strong this monster had three heads: one indeed of a grim-visaged lion, one of a goat, and another of a serpent, a fierce dragon in front a lion, a dragon behind, and in the midst a goat breathing forth the dread strength of burning fire. 325 Pegasus, with brave Bellerophon, slew her. But she, compelled by Orthos, brought forth in sooth the destructive Sphinx, a destruction to the Kadmeians and the Nemean lion, whom Hera, Zeus’s glorious consort, reared, and settled in the corn-lands of Nemea, a woe to mankind. 330 There abiding truly used he to devour the tribes of men, while he held sway over Tretos of Nemea, and over Apesas: but the might of strong Hēraklēs subdued him. And Keto mingling in love with Phorkys, brought forth, as youngest-born, a terrible serpent, 335 which in hiding-places of dark earth, guards all-golden apples, in wide bounds. Such then is the brood of Keto and Phorkys.

Descendants of Ouranos: Children of Tethys and Okeanos

But Tethys to Okeanos bore eddying rivers, Nile and Alpheus, and deep-eddying Eridanos Strymon, and Maeander and Istros of-fair-stream, 340 Phasis, Rhesus, and Akhelōios with silvery-tide, Nessos, and Rhodios, Haliakmon and Heptaporos, Granikos, Aisepos, and divine Simoeis, Peneios, Hermos, and pleasant-flowing Kaikos and vast Sangarios, Ladon, Parthenios, 345 Euenus, and Ardeskos and divine Skamandros. And she bore a sacred race of daughters, who with King Apollo and the rivers all earth over bring up men to manhood, and have this prerogative from Zeus, namely, Peitho, Admete, Ianthe, Electra, 350 Doris and Prymno, and goddess-like Urania, Hippo, and Klymene, Rhodia, and Kallirhoe, Zeuxo and Klytia, Iduia and Pasithoe, Plexaure, Galaxaure, lovely Dione, Melobosis, and Thoe, and fair Polydora, and 355 Kerkeis in nature amiable, and bright-eyed Plouto, Perseis, Ianeira, Akaste, and Xanthe, and winsome Petraia, Menesto, and Europa, Mētis, Eurynome, and saffron-robed Telesto, Krenaeis, Asia as well as desire-kindling Kalypsō, 360 Eudora, Tyche, Amphiro, and Okyrhoë, and Styx, who truly is eldest of them all. Now these were born eldest daughters of Okeanos and Tethys there are, however, many others also: for thrice a thousand are the tapering-ankled Okeanos-nymphs, 365 who truly spreading far and near, bright children of the gods, haunt everywhere alike earth and the depths of the lake. And again, as many other rivers flowing with a ringing noise, sons of Okeanos, whom august Tethys bore. It would be hard for mortal man to tell the names of all of them, 370 but they who dwell around them know the names of each..

Descendants of Ouranos: Children of Theia and Hyperion

And Theia, overcome in the embrace of Hyperion, brought forth the great Sun, and bright Moon, and Dawn, that shines for all that-dwell-on-the-earth, and for immortal gods, who occupy the broad sky.

Descendants of Ouranos: Children of Kreios and Eurybia

375 Eurybia too, a goddess among goddesses, bore to Kreios, after union in love, huge Astraios, and Pallas, and Perses, who was transcendent in all knowledge. And to Astraios Dawn brought forth the strong-spirited winds, Argestes, Zephyr, swift-speeding Boreas, 380 and Notos, when she, a goddess, had mingled in love with a god. And after them the goddess of morning produced the star Morning Star, and the brilliant stars with which the sky is crowned. And Styx, daughter of Okeanos, after union with Pallas, bore within the house Zēlos and beauteous-ankled Victory 385 and she gave birth to Strength [Kratos] and Force [Biē], illustrious children, whose abode is not apart from Zeus, nor is there any seat, or any way, where the god does not go before them but always they sit beside deep-thundering Zeus. For thus counseled Styx, imperishable Okeanos-nymph, 390 at the time when the Olympian Lightener summoned all the immortal gods to broad Olympus, and said that whoso of the gods would fight with him against the Titans, none of them would he rob of his rewards, but each should have the honor that he had earlier among the immortal gods. 395 And he said that anyone who was unhonored or ungifted by Kronos, he would establish in honor, and rewards, according to justice. Then first came imperishable Styx to Olympus along with her children through the counsels of her father. And Zeus honored her, and gave her exceeding gifts. 400 For he ordained her to be the great Oath-witness of the gods, and her children to be dwellers-with-her all their days. And even as he promises, he performed to them all for ever: for he has power and reigns mightily.

Descendants of Ouranos: Children of Phoebe and Koios

And next Phoebe came to the much-beloved couch of Koios: 405 then in truth having conceived, a goddess by love of a god, she bore dark-robed Leto, ever mild, gentle to mortals and immortal gods, mild from the beginning, most kindly within Olympus. And she bore renowned Asteria, whom once Perses 410 led to an ample palace to be called his bride.

And she, becoming pregnant, brought forth Hekatē, whom Zeus, the son of Kronos, honored beyond all and provided for her splendid gifts, to wit, to hold a share of earth and of barren sea. But she has obtained honor also from starry Sky, 415 and has been honored chiefly by immortal gods. For even now when anywhere some one of men upon-the-earth duly propitiates them by doing worthy sacrifice, he calls on Hekatē and abundant honor very speedily attends him, whose vows the goddess shall receive, that is to say, graciously, 420 and to him she presents wealth, for she has the power. For as many as were born of Earth and Sky, and received a share of honor, of all these she has the lot, neither did the son of Kronos force any portion from her, nor did he take away as many honors as she has obtained by lot among the elder gods, the Titans, 425 but she has them, as at the first the distribution was from the beginning. Nor, because she is sole-begotten, has the goddess obtained less of honor, and her prerogative on earth, and in the sky, and sea, but even still much more, seeing that Zeus honors her. And to whom she wills, she is greatly present, and benefits him, 430 and he is distinguished, whom she wants that way, in the assembly among the people and when men arm for mortal-destroying war, then the goddess draws nigh to whom she will, kindly to proffer victory and to extend renown to them: and in judgment she sits beside august kings: 435 and propitiously again, when men contend in the games, there the goddess stands near these also, and helps them. And when he has conquered by strength and might, a man carries with ease a noble prize, and rejoicingly presents glory to his parents. Propitious is she also to be present with horsemen, whenever she wishes 440 and to them who ply the rough silvery main and they pray to Hekatē and the loud-sounding Earth-shaker. Easily too the glorious goddess presents an ample spoil, and easily is she accustomed to withdraw it when it is shown, that is, if she is so disposed in her mind. And propitious along with Hermes to increase the flock in the folds, 445 the herds of cattle, and the droves, and broad herds of goats, and flocks of fleecy sheep, if she chooses in her heart, she makes great from small, and is accustomed to make less from being many. Thus, in truth, though being sole-begotten from her mother, she has been honored with rewards amidst all the immortals. 450 And the son of Kronos made her the nursing-mother-of-children, who after her have beheld with their eyes the light of far-seeing Dawn. Thus is she from the beginning nursing-mother, and such are her honors.

Descendants of Ouranos: Children of Rhea and Kronos

Rhea too, embraced by Kronos, bore renowned children, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera of-the-golden-sandals, 455 and mighty Hādēs, who inhabits halls beneath the earth, having a ruthless heart and loud-resounding Poseidon, and counseling Zeus, father of gods as well as men, by whose thunder also the broad earth quakes. And them indeed did huge Kronos devour, 460 namely, every one who came to the mother’s knees from her holy womb, with this intent, that none other of the illustrious sky-born might hold royal honor among the immortals. For he had heard from Earth and starry Sky that it was fated for him, strong though he was, to be subdued by his own child, 465 through the counsels of mighty Zeus: wherefore he did not keep a careless watch, but lying in wait for them, kept devouring his own sons while a grief not-to-be-forgotten possessed Rhea. But when at length she was about to bear Zeus, the father of gods as well as men, then it was that she essayed to supplicate her parents dear, 470 Earth and starry Sky, to contrive a plan how she might without observation bring forth her son, and avenge the furies of their father, against his children, whom great and wily Kronos devoured. And they duly heard and complied with their dear daughter, 475 and explained to her as much as it had been fated should come to pass concerning king Kronos, and his strong-hearted son. And they sent her to Lyktos, to the fertile tract of Crete, when she was about to bear the youngest of her sons, mighty Zeus: whom indeed vast earth received from her 480 to rear and nurture in broad Crete. Thereupon indeed came she, bearing him through the swift dark night, to Lyktos first, and took him in her hands and hid him in a deep cave, beneath the recesses of the divine earth, in the dense and wooded Aegean Mount.

485 But to the great prince, the son of Sky, former sovereign of the gods, she gave a huge stone, having wrapped it in swaddling clothes: which he then took in his hands, and stowed away into his belly, wretch as he was, nor did he consider in his mind that against him for the future his own invincible and untroubled son was left instead of a stone, 490 who was shortly about to subdue him by strength of hand, and to drive him from his honors, and himself to reign among the immortals. Quickly then throve the spirit and beauteous limbs of the king, and, as years came round, having been beguiled by the wise counsels of Earth 495 huge Kronos, wily counselor, let loose again his offspring, having been conquered by the arts and strength of his son. And first he disgorged the stone, since he swallowed it last. This stone Zeus fixed down upon the earth with-its-broad-ways, in divine Pytho [Delphi], beneath the clefts of Parnassus, 500 to be a sēma thereafter, a marvel to mortal men. Then he loosed from destructive bonds his father’s brethren, the sons of Sky, whom his father had bound in his folly. And they showed gratitude to him for his kindnesses, and gave him the thunder, and the smoking bolt, 505 and lightning but earlier huge Earth had hidden them trusting on these, he rules over mortals and immortals.

Descendants of Ouranos: Children of Iapetos and Klymene

Iapetos, moreover, wedded the damsel Klymene, a fair-ankled Okeanos-daughter, and ascended into a common bed. And she bore him Atlas, a stout-hearted son, 510 and brought forth exceeding-famous Menoitios, and artful Prometheus, full of various wiles, and Epimetheus of-erring-mind, who was from the first an evil to gain-seeking men: for he first received from Zeus the clay-formed woman, a virgin. But the insolent Menoitios wide-seeing Zeus 515 thrust down to Erebos, having, stricken him with flaming lightning, on account of his arrogance, and overweening strength. But Atlas upholds broad Sky by strong necessity, before the clear-voiced Hesperides, standing on earth’s verge, with head and unwearied hands. 520 For this lot counseling Zeus apportioned to him.

And wily-minded Prometheus he bound in indissoluble bonds, with painful chains, having thrust them through the middle of a column. And he urged against him an eagle with-wings-outspread: but it kept feeding on his immortal liver, while it would increase to a like size 525 all-round by night, to what the eagle with-wings-outspread had eaten during the whole day before. Indeed Hēraklēs, valiant son of fair-ankled Alkmene, slew this bird, and repelled from the son of Iapetos the baneful pest, and released him from his anxieties, not against the wiles of high-reigning Olympian Zeus, 530 so that the kleos of Thebes-born Hēraklēs might be yet more than before over the many-feeding earth. Thus he honors his very famous son, through veneration for him. And, though incensed, he [Zeus] ceased from the wrath which he was harboring because he [Hēraklēs] strove in plans against the almighty son of Kronos.

Prometheus: Zeus’s Choice of the Sacrifice

535 When the gods and mortal men were contending at Mekone, then did he [Prometheus] set before him [Zeus] a huge ox, having divided it with ready mind, studying to deceive the wisdom of Zeus. For here, on the one hand, he deposited the flesh and entrails with rich fat on the hide, having covered it with the belly of the ox and there, on the other hand, he laid down, 540 having well disposed them with subtle craft, the white bones of the ox, covering them with white fat. Then it was that the father of gods and men addressed him, “Son of Iapetos, far-famed among all kings, how unfairly, good friend, you have divided the portions.” 545 Thus spoke rebukingly Zeus, skilled in imperishable counsels. And him in his turn wily Prometheus addressed, laughing low, but he was not forgetful of subtle craft: “Most glorious Zeus, greatest of ever-living gods, choose which of these your inclination within your breast bids you.” He spoke in subtlety: 550 but Zeus knowing imperishable counsels was aware, in fact, and not ignorant of his guile and was boding in his heart evils to mortal men, which also were about to find accomplishment. Then with both hands he lifted up the white fat. But he was incensed in mind, and wrath came around him in spirit, 555 when he saw the white bones of the ox arranged with guileful art. And thenceforth the tribes of men on the earth burn to the immortals white bones on fragrant altars. Then cloud-compelling Zeus addressed him, greatly displeased: “Son of Iapetos, skilled in wise plans beyond all, 560 you do not, good sir, yet forget subtle craft.” Thus spoke in his wrath Zeus knowing imperishable counsels: from that time forward, ever mindful of the fraud, he did not give the strength of untiring fire to wretched mortal men, who dwell upon the earth. 565 But the good son of Iapetos cheated him, and stole the far-seen splendor of untiring fire in a hollow fennel-stalk but it stung High-thundering Zeus to his heart’s core, and incensed his spirit, when he saw the radiance of fire conspicuous among men.

Prometheus: Pandora and the Lineage of Women

570 Forthwith then he fashioned evil for men in requital for the fire bestowed. For from the earth the famous Hephaistos, halting in both feet, fashioned the image of a modest maiden, through the counsels of the son of Kronos. And the goddess glancing-eyed Athena girded and arrayed her in silver-white raiment 575 and from her head she held with her hands a curiously embellished veil, a marvel to look upon: and Pallas Athena placed around her about her head lovely garlands fresh-budding with meadow-flowers, and around her head she set a golden coronet, which renowned Hephaistos lame with both feet had made himself, 580 having wrought it carefully by hand, out of compliment to Zeus his father. On it had been wrought many curious monsters, a marvel to view, as many as in great abundance the continent and the sea maintain. Many of these he introduced, and much elegance beamed from it, of wondrous beauty, like to living animals gifted with sounds. 585 But when he had wrought a beauteous evil instead of good, he led her forth even where were the rest of gods and men, exulting as she was in the adornment of the gleaming-eyed daughter-of-a-strong-father: and wonder seized immortal gods as well as mortal men, when they beheld a deep snare, against which man’s craftiness is in vain.

590 From her is the race of tender women. For from her is a pernicious race. Tribes of women, a great source of hurt, dwell with mortal men, helpmates not in consuming poverty, but in surfeit. And as when in close-roofed hives bees 595 feed drones, sharers in bad works, the former through the whole day till sunset are busy day by day, and make white combs, while the latter, remaining within in the close-roofed hives, reap the labors of others for their own stomachs. 600 Just as to mortal men high-thundering Zeus gave women as an evil, accomplices of painful toils: another evil too did he provide instead of good to wit whosoever shunning marriage and the ills that women work, declines to marry, and has come to old age pernicious, 605 through want of one to tend his final days he lives not, it is true, in lack of subsistence, but, when he is dead, distant kindred divide his possessions while to whomsoever, on the other hand, the lot of marriage shall have fallen, and he has had a good wife congenial to his heart, to him then forever ill contends with good to be with him: 610 but whoso finds a baneful breed, lives with an incessant care to spirit and heart within his breast, and it is an irremediable woe. Thus it is not possible to deceive or overreach the mind of Zeus, for neither did Prometheus, helpful son of Iapetos, 615 escape from beneath his severe wrath but a great chain, by necessity, constrains him, very knowing though he is.


But when first their father became angry in spirit against Briareus, Kottos, and Gyes, he bound them with a strong bond, admiring their overweening courage, and also their form 620 and bulk and he made them dwell beneath the roomy earth. Then they in grief dwelling beneath the earth, sat at the verge, on the extremities of vast Earth, very long, afflicted, having a great woe at heart but them the son of Kronos, and other immortal gods, 625 whom fair-haired Rhea bore in the embrace of Kronos, by the counsels of Earth brought up again to light: for she recounted to them at large everything, how they should along with those [Briareus, Kottos, and Gyes] gain victory and splendid glory. Long time then they fought, incurring soul-vexing toil, 630 the Titan gods and as many as were born from Kronos, in opposition to each other in stout conflicts the one side, the glorious Titans from lofty Othrys, and the other, the gods, givers of good things, whom Rhea the fair-haired had borne to Kronos, in union with him, from Olympus.

635 They then in soul-distressing battle, one party with the other, were fighting continuously more than ten years. Nor was there any riddance or end of severe contention to either party, and the completion of the war was extended equally to either. But when at length Zeus set before them all things agreeable, 640 to wit, nectar and ambrosia, on which the gods themselves feed, a noble spirit grew in the breasts of all. And when they had tasted the nectar and delightful ambrosia, then at length the father of gods and men addressed them: “Hear me, illustrious children of Earth and Sky, 645 that I may speak what my spirit within my breast prompts me to speak. For now a very long space we are fighting, each in opposition to other, concerning victory and power, all our days, the Titan gods and as many of us are sprung from Kronos. 650 Now you must show against the Titans in deadly fight both mighty force and hands invincible, in gratitude for our mild loving-kindness, namely, after how many sufferings you came back again to the light, from afflictive bondage, through our counsels, from the murky gloom.” Thus he spoke and him in turn blameless Kottos addressed in answer: 655 “Excellent Lord, you do not tell things unlearned by us but we too are aware that your wisdom is excellent, and excellent your intellect, and that you have been to the immortals an averter of terrible destruction. And back again, from harsh bonds, have we come from the murky darkness, through your thoughtful care, 660 O royal son of Kronos, having experienced treatment unhoped-for. Wherefore also now with steadfast purpose and prudent counsel we will protect your might in dread conflict, fighting with the Titans in stout battles.”

Thus he spoke and the gods, givers of good, approved, 665 when they had heard his speech: and their spirit was eager for battle still more than before, and they stirred up unhappy strife all of them, female as well as male, on that day, both Titan gods, and as many as had sprung from Kronos, and they whom Zeus sent up to light from Erebos, beneath the earth, 670 terrible and strong, having overweening biē. From the shoulders of these a hundred hands outsprung to all alike, and to each fifty heads grew from their shoulders over their sturdy limbs. They then were pitted against the Titans in deadly combat, 675 holding huge rocks in their sturdy hands. But the Titans on the other side made strong their phalanxes with alacrity, and both sides were showing work of hand and biē at the same time, and the boundless sea re-echoed terribly, and earth resounded loudly, and the broad sky groaned, 680 being shaken, and vast Olympus was convulsed from its base under the violence of the immortals, and a severe quaking came to murky Tartaros, namely, a hollow sound of countless chase of feet, and of strong battle-strokes: to such an extent did they hurl groan-causing weapons. 685 And the voice of both sides reached the starry sky as they cheered, for they came together with a great war-cry.

No longer did Zeus restrain his fury, but then forthwith his heart was filled with fierceness, and he began also to exhibit all his biē: then, from the sky and from Olympus 690 he went forth lightening continually, and the bolts close together with thunder and lightning flew duly from his sturdy hand, whirling a sacred flash, in frequent succession, while all-around life-giving Earth was crashing in conflagration, and the immense forests on all sides crackled loudly with fire. 695 All land was boiling, and the streams of Okeanos, and the barren sea. Hot vapor was circling the earth-born Titans, and the incessant blaze reached the divine dense-atmosphere, while flashing radiance of thunderbolt and lightning was bereaving their eyes of sight, strong though they were. 700 Fearful heat likewise possessed Chaos and it seemed, to look at, face to face, with the eye, and to hear the sound with the ear, just as if earth and the broad sky from above were threatening to meet: for such an exceeding crash would have arisen from earth falling in ruins, and the sky dashing it down from above. 705 Such a din there rose when the gods clashed in strife. The winds too at the same time were stirring up quaking and dust together, thunder and lightning and smoking bolt, shafts of the mighty Zeus and they were bearing shout and battle-cry into the midst, one of another then a terrible noise 710 of dreadful strife was roused, strength of prowess was put forth, and the battle was inclined but before that time assailing one another, they were fighting incessantly in stern conflict. Now the others among the first ranks roused the keen fight, Kottos, Briareus, and Gyes insatiable in war, 715 who truly were hurling from sturdy hands three hundred rocks close upon each other, and they had overshadowed the Titans with missiles, sent them beneath the broad-wayed earth, and bound them in painful bonds, having conquered them with their hands, over-haughty though they were, 720 as far beneath under earth as the sky is from the earth, for equal is the space from earth to murky Tartaros.

Depiction of the Underworld

For nine nights and days also would a brazen anvil be descending from the sky, and come on the tenth to the earth and nine days as well as nights again would a brazen anvil be descending 725 from the earth, to reach on the tenth to Tartaros. Around it moreover a brazen fence has been forged, and about it Night is poured in three rows around the neck but above spring the roots of Earth and barren Sea. There, under murky darkness, the Titan gods 730 lie hidden by the counsels of cloud-compelling Zeus in a dark, dreary place, where are the extremities of vast Earth. These may not go forth, for Poseidon has placed above them brazen gates, and a wall goes round them on both sides. There dwell Gyes, and Kottos, and high-spirited Briareus, 735 faithful guards of aegis-bearing Zeus. And there are the sources and boundaries of dusky Earth, of murky Tartaros, of barren Sea, and starry Sky, all in their order: boundaries oppressive and gloomy, which also even gods abhor, 740 a vast chasm, not even for a whole round of a year would one reach the ground, after having first been within the gates: but gusts of wind following one upon the other would bear him onward hither and thither, distressing him, and dreadful even to immortal gods is this prodigy.

There the dread abodes of gloomy Night 745 stand shrouded in dark clouds. In front of these the son of Iapetos stands and holds broad Sky, with his head and unwearied hands, unmovedly, where Night and Day also drawing near are accustomed to salute each other, as they cross the vast 750 brazen threshold. The one is about to go down within, while the other comes forth abroad, nor ever does the abode constrain both within but constantly one at any rate being outside the dwelling, wanders over the earth, while the other again being within the abode, awaits the season of her journey, until it comes 755 the one having a far-seeing light for men-on-the-earth, and the other, destructive Night, having Sleep, the brother of Death, in its hands, being shrouded in hazy mist. And there the sons of obscure Night hold their habitation, Sleep and Death, dread gods: nor ever does 760 the bright sun look upon them with his rays, as he ascends the sky, or descends from the sky. Of whom indeed the one tarries on the earth and the broad surface of the sea, silently and soothingly to men but of the other, iron is the heart, and brazen is his 765 ruthless soul within his breast and whomsoever of men he may have first caught, he holds: and he is hostile even to immortal gods. There in the front stand the resounding abodes of the infernal god, of mighty Hādēs, and awesome Persephone besides and a fierce dog keeps guard in front, a ruthless dog 770 and he has an evil trick: those who enter he fawns upon with his tail and both ears alike, yet he allows them not to go forth back again, but lies in wait and devours whomsoever he may have caught going forth outside the gates of strong Hādēs and dread Persephone.

775 There too dwells a goddess odious to immortals, dread Styx, eldest daughter of back-flowing Okeanos: and apart from the gods she inhabits renowned dwellings vaulted by huge rocks and round about on all sides they are strengthened to Sky by silver columns. 780 And seldom goes the fleet-footed daughter of Thaumas, Iris, on a message over the broad back of the sea, namely, when by chance strife and quarrel shall have arisen among the immortals: and whosoever of them that hold Olympian dwellings, utters falsehood, then also Zeus is accustomed to send Iris to bring 785 from far in a golden ewer the great oath of the gods, the renowned water, cold as it is, which also runs down from a steep and lofty rock but in abundance beneath the roomy Earth flows a branch of Okeanos from the sacred river through black Night and a tenth portion has been assigned to it. 790 In nine portions indeed, rolling around Earth and also the broad back of the Sea with silver whirlpools, he [Okeanos] falls into the brine but the other part flows forth from a rock, a great bane to the gods. Whosoever of immortals that occupy the top of snowy Olympus, shall have offered of this as a libation, and sworn over it a false oath, 795 lies breathless until the completion of a year, nor ever comes near the repast of nectar and ambrosia, but also lies breathless and speechless on a strewn couch, and a baneful stupor over-shrouds him. But when he has fulfilled his malady until the full year, 800 then another after another more severe trouble succeeds for him. And for nine years he is parted from the ever-living gods nor ever does he mix with them in council nor in feasts for nine whole years but in the tenth he mingles again in the assemblies of the gods immortal, who occupy Olympian dwellings. 805 Such a grave oath have the gods made the imperishable water of Styx, that ancient water, which also runs through a very rugged tract.

There too are the sources and boundaries of dusky Earth, and murky Tartaros, and barren Sea, and starry Sky, all in order 810 boundaries oppressive and gloomy, which also even gods abhor. And there are gleaming gates and a brazen threshold, unshaken and fixed upon far-extending foundations, self-growing and before it, outside of all the gods, beyond gloomy Chaos, the Titans dwell. 815 But the famed allies of loud-crashing Zeus inhabit dwellings under the foundations of the Okeanos, namely, Kottos and Gyes. Briareus indeed, for his part, strong as he was, deep-sounding Earth-shaker made his son-in-law, and gave him to wife his daughter Kymopolia.


820 But when Zeus had driven the Titans out from Sky, huge Earth bore her youngest-born son, Typhoeus, by the embrace of Tartaros, through golden Aphrodite. Whose hands, indeed, are apt for deeds on the score of strength, and untiring the feet of the strong god and from his shoulders 825 there were a hundred heads of a serpent, a fierce dragon, playing with dusky tongues, and from the eyes in his wondrous heads fire was gleaming, as he looked keenly. In all his terrible heads, too, were voices 830 sending forth every kind of sound ineffable. For a while they would utter sounds, so as for the gods to understand, and at another time again the voice of a loud-bellowing bull, untamable in force, and proud in utterance at another time, again, that of a lion possessing a daring spirit at another yet again they would sound like to whelps, wondrous to hear 835 and at another he would hiss, and the lofty mountains resound.

And, in fact, it was then that there would have been done a deed past remedy, and he, yes, he, would have reigned over mortals and immortals, unless the father of gods and men had quickly observed him. Harshly then he thundered, and heavily, 840 and terribly the earth re-echoed around and the broad sky above, and the sea, and streams of Okeanos, and the abysses of earth. But beneath his immortal feet vast Olympus trembled, as the king rose up, and earth groaned beneath. And the heat from both caught the dark-colored sea, 845 both of the thunder and lightning, and fire from the monster, the heat arising from the thunder-storms, winds, and burning lightning. And all earth and sky and sea were boiling and huge billows roared around the shores about and around, beneath the violence of gods and unallayed quaking arose. 850 Hādēs trembled, monarch over the dead beneath and the Titans under Tartaros, standing about Kronos, trembled also, on account of the unceasing tumult and dreadful contention. But then Zeus had raised high his wrath, and had taken his arms, his thunder and lightning, and smoking bolt, leapt up, 855 and smote him from Olympus, and scorched all-around all the wondrous heads of the terrible monster. But when at length he had quelled it, after having smitten it with blows, the monster fell down lamed, and huge Earth groaned. But the flame from the lightning-blasted monster flashed forth 860 in the mountain-hollows, hidden and rugged, when he was stricken, and much was the vast earth burnt and melted by the boundless vapor, like pewter, heated by the craft of youths, and by the well-bored melting-pit or iron, which is the hardest of metals, 865 subdued in the dells of the mountain by blazing fire, melts in the sacred earth beneath the hands of Hephaistos. So was earth melted in the glare of burning fire. Then, troubled in spirit, he hurled him into wide Tartaros.

Now from Typhoeus is the strength of winds moist-blowing, 870 except the southwest, the north, and Argestes, and Zephyr, who also indeed are a race from the gods, a great blessing to mortals. But the others, being random gusts, breathe over the sea. And these falling upon the darksome deep rage with baneful gusts, a great hurt to mortals 875 and now here, now there they blow, and scatter ships, and destroy sailors: nor is there any relief from ill to men, who encounter them on the sea. But these again over the boundless flowery earth spoil the pleasant works of earth-born men, 880 filling them with dust and wearisome uproar.

Descendants of Kronos: Children of Zeus

But when the blessed [makar] gods had fulfilled their labor [ponos], and contended with the Titans perforce on the score of honors [tīmai], then it was, I say, that they urged far-seeing Zeus, by the advice of Earth, to rule and reign 885 over immortals: and he duly distributed honors [tīmai] amongst them. And Zeus, king of the gods, made Mētis first his wife Mētis, most wise of deities as well as mortal men. But when at last she was about to give birth to Athena, gleaming-eyed goddess, then it was that having by deceit beguiled her mind 890 with flattering words, he placed her [Mētis] within his own belly by the advice of earth, and of starry Sky. For thus they persuaded him, lest other of ever-living gods should possess sovereign honor in the room of Zeus. For of her [Mētis] it was fated that wise children should be born: 895 first the glancing-eyed Tritonian maiden, having equal might and prudent counsel with her father and then she [Mētis] was going to give birth to a son, as king of gods and men, with an overbearing spirit, if it had not been for the fact that Zeus deposited her first in his own belly, 900 that the goddess might indicate to him both good and bad.

Next he wedded bright Themis, who bore the Hōrai: Eunomia, Dikē, and blooming Peace, who care for their works for mortal men and the Fates [moirai], to whom counseling Zeus gives most honor, 905 Klotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, who also give to men good and evil to possess. And Eurynome, daughter of Okeanos, having a very lovely form, bore him the fair-cheeked Kharites [Graces]: Aglaia, and Euphrosyne, and winsome Thalia 910 from whose eyelids also as they gazed dropped Love, unnerving limbs, and sweetly too they look from under their brows. But he came to the couch of much-nourishing Demeter, who bore him white-armed Persephone her whom Hādēs ravished from her mother: and sage Zeus gave her away. And next he was enamored of beautiful-haired 915 Mnemosyne, of whom were born to him the Muses nine, with-golden-fillets, to whom festivals, and the delight of song, are a pleasure. But Apollo and Artemis, rejoicing-in-arrows, a lovely off-spring beyond all the sky-dwellers, Leto 920 brought forth, after union in love with aegis-bearing Zeus. And last made he blooming Hera his spouse. She bore Hebe, and Arēs, and Eileithuia, having been united in love with the king of gods and men. But by himself, from his head, he produced glancing-eyed Tritonis [Athena], 925 fierce, strife-stirring, army-leading, unsubdued, and awesome, to whom dins, and wars, and battle are a delight.

Descendants of Kronos: Hera’s Child, Hephaistos

And Hera, without having been united in love, brought forth famous Hephaistos, as she was furious and quarrelling with her husband Hephaistos, distinguished in crafts from amongst all the sky-born.

Descendants of Kronos: Children of Poseidon

930 But from Amphitrite and the loud-roaring Earth-shaker sprang great and widely-powerful Triton, who occupies the depth of the sea, and inhabits golden houses beside his dear mother and his royal father, being a terrible god.

Descendants of Zeus

To shield-piercing Arēs, however, Kytherea [Aphrodite] bore Fear and Terror, 935 formidable deities, who route dense phalanxes of men in horrid war, with the help of city-spoiler Arēs and Harmonia, whom high-spirited Kadmos [Kadmos] made his spouse. Then to Zeus Maia, daughter of Atlas, bore glorious Hermes, herald of immortals, having ascended his holy couch. 940 And to him Semele, daughter of Kadmos, bore an illustrious son, Dionysus bringer of joys, after union in love, mortal though she was, an immortal. But now both are deities. And Alkmene after union in love with cloud-compelling Zeus bore Hēraklēs the strong. 945 But Hephaistos, far-famed, crippled god, took to wife blooming Aglaia, youngest of the Kharites [Graces]. And Dionysus, of golden hair, took for his blooming bride blond-tressed Ariadne, daughter of Minos. And the son of Kronos made her immortal, and unsusceptible of old age for him. And fair-ankled Alkmene’s valiant son, mighty Hēraklēs, having accomplished grievous toils, 950 made Hebe, daughter of mighty Zeus and Hera-with-golden-sandals, his bashful wife in snowy Olympus: happy hero, who having achieved a great work, 955 dwells among the immortals uninjured and ageless evermore.

Circe and Medea

To the unwearied Sun the famous daughter of Okeanos, Perseis, bore Circe and king Aietes. And Aietes, son of man-enlightening Sun, 960 wedded beauteous-cheeked Iduia, daughter of Okeanos, perfect through golden Aphrodite, brought forth to him fair-ankled Medea.

Children of Immortal Goddesses and Mortal Men

Take pleasure [in my performance], gods dwelling in Olympian abodes, islands and continents, and briny pontos within and now Olympian Muses, sweet of speech, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus, 965 sing you the generation of goddesses, as many as, having been united, though immortal, with mortal men, gave birth to children resembling gods. Demeter, divine among goddesses, after union in delightsome love, 970 bore Ploutos [Wealth] to the hero Iasios, in a thrice-plowed fallow field, in the fertile country of Crete, a kind god, who goes over all the earth, and the broad surface of the sea and to him that has chanced upon him, and into whose hands he may have come, him, I say, he is accustomed to make rich, and presents to him much wealth [olbos]. 975 And to Kadmos, Harmonia, daughter of golden Aphrodite, bore Ino, Semele, and fair-cheeked Agaue, and Autonoe, whom Aristaios of-clustering-locks wedded, and Polydoros in tower-circled Thebes. But Kallirhoe, daughter of Okeanos, united to brave-hearted Khrysaor 980 in union of all-golden Aphrodite, bore a son the strongest of all mortals, Geryon, whom mighty Hēraklēs slew, for the sake of the trailing-footed oxen in island Erytheia.

And to Tithonos Eos bore Memnon with-brazen-helm, 985 king of the Ethiopians, and the sovereign Emathion. But to Kephalos in truth she [Eos] produced an illustrious son, the brave Phaethon, comparable to the gods, whom, when young, in the tender flower of glorious youth, a lad, conscious only of young fancies, laughter-loving Aphrodite 990 snatched up, and rushed away, and she made him, in her sacred shrine, the temple-keeper of her inner sanctum, a radiant daimōn. And the daughter of Aietes, Zeus-descended king, Jason, son of Aison, by the counsels of ever-living gods, carried off from Aietes, after he had fulfilled the grievous toils, 995 which, being many in number, the great and overbearing king, insolent and reckless Pelias, doer of deeds of violence, imposed upon him. Which having achieved, after having toiled much, the son of Aison arrived at Iolkos, bearing in his fleet ship a dark-eyed maiden, and her he made his blooming bride. Yes, and she [Medea], 1000 having been yoked with Jason, shepherd of his people, bore a son Medeus, whom Cheiron, son of Philyra, reared on the mountains while the purpose of mighty Zeus was being fulfilled.

But of the daughters of Nereus, ancient sea-god, Psamathe, divine among goddesses, bore Phokos 1005 in the embrace of Aiakos, through golden Aphrodite: and the goddess Thetis, of the silver feet, yielding to Peleus, gave birth to Achilles the lion-hearted, who-broke-the-ranks-of-men. Fair-wreathed Kytherea [Aphrodite] too, blending in delightsome love with the hero Anchises, bore Aineias [Aeneas] 1010 on the peaks of many-valleyed, woody Ida. But Circe, daughter of the Sun, born-of-Hyperion, by the love of Odysseus of-enduring-heart, gave birth to Agrios and blameless and strong Latinus Telegonos also she bore through golden Aphrodite. 1015 Now these, very far in a recess of sacred isles, reigned over all the very renowned Tyrrhenians. But Kalypsō, divine among goddesses, bore to Odysseus Nausithoös and Nausinoös after union in delightful love.

1020 These, though immortal, having been united with mortal men, gave birth to children like unto the gods. And now sing you the generation of women, you sweet-spoken Olympian Muses, daughters of aegis-bearing Zeus.

[ back ] 1. The name Hēsiodos means ‘he who sends forth the voice’, corresponding to the description of the Muses themselves at lines 10, 43, 65, 67. The element ‑odos ‘voice’ of Hēsiodos is apparently cognate with audē ‘voice’, the word used at line 31 to designate what was ‘breathed’ into Hesiod by the Muses.

[ back ] 2. “‘Truth’, which itinerant would-be oral poets are ‘unwilling’ to tell because of their need for survival [Odyssey 14.124-125], may be ‘willingly’ conferred by the Muses [‘whenever we are willing’ at Theogony line 28]. We see here what can be taken as a manifesto of pan-Hellenic poetry, in that the poet Hesiod is to be freed from being a mere ‘belly’—one who owes his survival to his local audience with its local traditions: all such local traditions are pseudea ‘falsehoods’ in face of the alēthea ‘true things’ that the Muses impart specially to Hesiod. The conceit inherent in the pan-Hellenic poetry of Hesiod is that this overarching tradition is capable of achieving something that is beyond the reach of individual local traditions.”—G. Nagy, Greek Mythology and Poetics (Ithaca 1990 paperback 1992) 45. The pan-Hellenic nature of Hesiodic poetry is conveyed by the absolutist concept of alēthēs/alētheia ‘true/truth’ [‘what is not subject to forgetting or mental disconnection’, as expressed by lēth ‘forget, be mentally disconnected’].

[ back ] 3. I take it that the poet, in embracing a pan-Hellenic perspective, is ostentatiously rejecting local traditions as being too separatist and provincial. From the standpoint of local creation myths, humankind was generated out of oak trees (another variant: ash trees) or out of rocks.

[ back ] 4. West Theogony commentary p. 180 translates ‘provinces’ or ‘spheres of influence’, citing some very interesting illustrations of this sense.

[ back ] 5. Compare the context of neikos at Works and Days 35.

[ back ] 6. See note 4.

[ back ] 7. Folk etymology from kuklos ‘circle’ and ops ‘eye’.

[ back ] 8. A play on the like-sounding forms meid- ‘smile’ and mēd(ea) ‘genitals’: philommeidēs means ‘lover of smiles’, while philommēdēs would mean ‘lover of genitals’.

Mosaic, Labors of Hercules, 3rd century CE, National Archaeological Museum of Spain.
Photo: Carole Raddato, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, via Wikimedia Commons

Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion. Detail of the Twelve Labours Roman mosaic, Valencia, Spain. 201–250 CE.
Photo: Luis García. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pieter Paul Rubens *1577–1640): Heracles and the Nemean Lion. National Museum of Art of Romania.
Photo: Yelkrokoyade. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Antonio del Pollaiolo: Hercules and the Hydra. c. 1475. Uffizi Gallery.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Antimenes Painter. Herakles, Eurystheus and the Erymanthian Boar. Side A black-figured amphora c 525 BCE. Louvre.
Photo: Bibi Saint-Pol. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hercules capturing the Erymanthian Boar. Marble relief, end of 3rd century CE. Musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse.
Photo: Carole Raddato. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. via Wikimedia Commons.


Herakles captures the Hind of Keryneia. Attic black-figured neck-amphora. c 540–530 BCE. British Museum.
Photo: Jastrow. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Heracles killing the Symphalian birds with his sling. Attic black-figured amphora c 540 BCE. British Museum.
Photo: Jastrow. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Hercules cleaning the Augean Stables. Relief from Villa Chiragain, Musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse. End of 3rd century CE.
Photo: Caroline Léna Becker. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. via Wikimedia Commons

Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre: Diomedes King of Thrace Killed by Hercules and Devoured by His Own Horses. 1752. Fabre Museum.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Attributed to the Medea Group: Herakles fighting Amazons. Side A Attic black-figure amphora, c 520 BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen. Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. via Wikimedia Commons

Nicolaes Knüpfer: Hercules Obtaining the Girdle of Hyppolita. first half of 17th century.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

E Group: Herakles fighting Geryon. Side A, Attic black-figure amphora. Louvre.
Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Eagle Painter: Herakles, Cerberus and Eurystheus. Side A, hydria, c 525 BCE. Louvre.
Photo: Bibi Saint-Pol. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Herakles holding up the sky with Athena’s help, Atlas offering the apples. Metope from Olympia.
Photo: Kosmos Society.

Etruscan gem: Herakles with the Apples of the Hesperides, 5th century BCE. Walters Art Museum, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Front panel of sarcophagus. Roman, mid 3rd century CE. Museo nazionale romano di palazzo Altemps
Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Note: Images have been selected from pictures that are freely available with open source or Creative Commons licenses or from photographs sent in by community members for the purpose. The images in this post are intended to suggest the subject, rather than illustrate exactly—as such, they may be from other periods, subjects, or cultures. Attributions are based where possible by those shown by museums, or on Wikimedia Commons, at the time of publication on this website.

Images and online texts accessed December 2019.

Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott are members of Kosmos Society.

Watch the video: Slaying The Lernaean Hydra (May 2022).