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Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica


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(ll. 1-27) Or like here who left home and country and came to
Thebes, following warlike Amphitryon, -- even Alemena, the
daughter of Electyron, gatherer of the people.  She surpassed the
tribe of womankind in beauty and in height; and in wisdom none
vied with her of those whom mortal women bare of union with
mortal men.  Her face and her dark eyes wafted such charm as
comes from golden Aphrodite.  And she so honoured her husband in
her heart as none of womankind did before her.  Verily he had
slain her noble father violently when he was angry about oxen; so
he left his own country and came to Thebes and was suppliant to
the shield-carrying men of Cadmus.  There he dwelt with his
modest wife without the joys of love, nor might he go in unto the
neat-ankled daughter of Electyron until he had avenged the death
of his wife's great-hearted brothers and utterly burned with
blazing fire the villages of the heroes, the Taphians and
Teleboans; for this thing was laid upon him, and the gods were
witnesses to it.  And he feared their anger, and hastened to
perform the great task to which Zeus had bound him.  With him
went the horse-driving Boeotians, breathing above their shields,
and the Locrians who fight hand to hand, and the gallant Phocians
eager for war and battle.  And the noble son of Alcaeus led them,
rejoicing in his host.

(ll. 27-55) But the father of men and gods was forming another
scheme in his heart, to beget one to defend against destruction
gods and men who eat bread.  So he arose from Olympus by night
pondering guile in the deep of his heart, and yearned for the
love of the well-girded woman.  Quickly he came to Typhaonium,
and from there again wise Zeus went on and trod the highest peak
of Phicium (1): there he sat and planned marvellous things in his
heart.  So in one night Zeus shared the bed and love of the neat-
ankled daughter of Electyron and fulfilled his desire; and in the
same night Amphitryon, gatherer of the people, the glorious hero,
came to his house when he had ended his great task.  He hastened
not to go to his bondmen and shepherds afield, but first went in
unto his wife: such desire took hold on the shepherd of the
people.  And as a man who has escaped joyfully from misery,
whether of sore disease or cruel bondage, so then did Amphitryon,
when he had wound up all his heavy task, come glad and welcome to
his home.  And all night long he lay with his modest wife,
delighting in the gifts of golden Aphrodite.  And she, being
subject in love to a god and to a man exceeding goodly, brought
forth twin sons in seven-gated Thebe.  Though they were brothers,
these were not of one spirit; for one was weaker but the other a
far better man, one terrible and strong, the mighty Heracles. 
Him she bare through the embrace of the son of Cronos lord of
dark clouds and the other, Iphicles, of Amphitryon the spear-
wielder -- offspring distinct, this one of union with a mortal
man, but that other of union with Zeus, leader of all the gods.

(ll. 57-77) And he slew Cycnus, the gallant son of Ares.  For he
found him in the close of far-shooting Apollo, him and his father
Ares, never sated with war.  Their armour shone like a flame of
blazing fire as they two stood in their car: their swift horses
struck the earth and pawed it with their hoofs, and the dust rose
like smoke about them, pounded by the chariot wheels and the
horses' hoofs, while the well-made chariot and its rails rattled
around them as the horses plunged.  And blameless Cycnus was
glad, for he looked to slay the warlike son of Zeus and his
charioteer with the sword, and to strip off their splendid
armour.  But Phoebus Apollo would not listen to his vaunts, for
he himself had stirred up mighty Heracles against him.  And all
the grove and altar of Pagasaean Apollo flamed because of the
dread god and because of his arms; for his eyes flashed as with
fire.  What mortal men would have dared to meet him face to face
save Heracles and glorious Iolaus?  For great was their strength
and unconquerable were the arms which grew from their shoulders
on their strong limbs.  Then Heracles spake to his charioteer
strong Iolaus:

(ll. 78-94) `O hero Iolaus, best beloved of all men, truly
Amphitryon sinned deeply against the blessed gods who dwell on
Olympus when he came to sweet-crowned Thebe and left Tiryns, the
well-built citadel, because he slew Electryon for the sake of his
wide-browned oxen.  Then he came to Creon and long-robed Eniocha,
who received him kindly and gave him all fitting things, as is
due to suppliants, and honoured him in their hearts even more. 
And he lived joyfully with his wife the neat-ankled daughter of
Electyron: and presently, while the years rolled on, we were
born, unlike in body as in mind, even your father and I.  From
him Zeus took away sense, so that he left his home and his
parents and went to do honour to the wicked Eurystheus -- unhappy
man!  Deeply indeed did he grieve afterwards in bearing the
burden of his own mad folly; but that cannot be taken back.  But
on me fate laid heavy tasks.

(ll. 95-101) `Yet, come, friend, quickly take the red-dyed reins
of the swift horses and raise high courage in your heart and
guide the swift chariot and strong fleet-footed horses straight
on.  Have no secret fear at the noise of man-slaying Ares who now
rages shouting about the holy grove of Phoebus Apollo, the lord
who shoots form afar.  Surely, strong though he be, he shall have
enough of war.'

(ll. 102-114) And blameless Iolaus answered him again: `Good
friend, truly the father of men and gods greatly honours your
head and the bull-like Earth-Shaker also, who keeps Thebe's veil
of walls and guards the city, -- so great and strong is this
fellow they bring into your hands that you may win great glory. 
But come, put on your arms of war that with all speed we may
bring the car of Ares and our own together and fight; for he
shall not frighten the dauntless son of Zeus, nor yet the son of
Iphiclus: rather, I think he will flee before the two sons of
blameless Alcides who are near him and eager to raise the war cry
for battle; for this they love better than a feast.'

(ll. 115-117) So he said.  And mighty Heracles was glad in heart
and smiled, for the other's words pleased him well, and he
answered him with winged words:

(ll. 118-121) `O hero Iolaus, heaven-sprung, now is rough battle
hard at hand.  But, as you have shown your skill at other-times,
so now also wheel the great black-maned horse Arion about every
way, and help me as you may be able.'

(ll. 122-138) So he said, and put upon his legs greaves of
shining bronze, the splendid gift of Hephaestus.  Next he
fastened about his breast a fine golden breast-plate, curiously
wrought, which Pallas Athene the daughter of Zeus had given him
when first he was about to set out upon his grievous labours. 
Over his shoulders the fierce warrior put the steel that saves
men from doom, and across his breast he slung behind him a hollow
quiver.  Within it were many chilling arrows, dealers of death
which makes speech forgotten: in front they had death, and
trickled with tears; their shafts were smooth and very long; and
their butts were covered with feathers of a brown eagle.  And he
took his strong spear, pointed with shining bronze, and on his
valiant head set a well-made helm of adamant, cunningly wrought,
which fitted closely on the temples; and that guarded the head of
god-like Heracles.

(ll. 139-153) In his hands he took his shield, all glittering: no
one ever broke it with a blow or crushed it.  And a wonder it was
to see; for its whole orb was a-shimmer with enamel and white
ivory and electrum, and it glowed with shining gold; and there
were zones of cyanus (2) drawn upon it.  In the centre was Fear
worked in adamant, unspeakable, staring backwards with eyes that
glowed with fire.  His mouth was full of teeth in a white row,
fearful and daunting, and upon his grim brow hovered frightful
Strife who arrays the throng of men: pitiless she, for she took
away the mind and senses of poor wretches who made war against
the son of Zeus.  Their souls passed beneath the earth and went
down into the house of Hades; but their bones, when the skin is
rotted about them, crumble away on the dark earth under parching

(ll. 154-160) Upon the shield Pursuit and Flight were wrought,
and Tumult, and Panic, and Slaughter.  Strife also, and Uproar
were hurrying about, and deadly Fate was there holding one man
newly wounded, and another unwounded; and one, who was dead, she
was dragging by the feet through the tumult.  She had on her
shoulders a garment red with the blood of men, and terribly she
glared and gnashed her teeth.

(ll. 160-167) And there were heads of snakes unspeakably
frightful, twelve of them; and they used to frighten the tribes
of men on earth whosoever made war against the son of Zeus; for
they would clash their teeth when Amphitryon's son was fighting:
and brightly shone these wonderful works.  And it was as though
there were spots upon the frightful snakes: and their backs were
dark blue and their jaws were black.

(ll. 168-177) Also there were upon the shield droves of boars and
lions who glared at each other, being furious and eager: the rows
of them moved on together, and neither side trembled but both
bristled up their manes.  For already a great lion lay between
them and two boars, one on either side, bereft of life, and their
dark blood was dripping down upon the ground; they lay dead with
necks outstretched beneath the grim lions.  And both sides were
roused still more to fight because they were angry, the fierce
boars and the bright-eyed lions.

(ll. 178-190) And there was the strife of the Lapith spearmen
gathered round the prince Caeneus and Dryas and Peirithous, with
Hopleus, Exadius, Phalereus, and Prolochus, Mopsus the son of
Ampyce of Titaresia, a scion of Ares, and Theseus, the son of
Aegeus, like unto the deathless gods.  These were of silver, and
had armour of gold upon their bodies.  And the Centaurs were
gathered against them on the other side with Petraeus and Asbolus
the diviner, Arctus, and Ureus, and black-haired Mimas, and the
two sons of silver, and they had pinetrees of gold in their
hands, and they were rushing together as though they were alive
and striking at one another hand to hand with spears and with

(ll. 191-196) And on the shield stood the fleet-footed horses of
grim Ares made gold, and deadly Ares the spoil-winner himself. 
He held a spear in his hands and was urging on the footmen: he
was red with blood as if he were slaying living men, and he stood
in his chariot.  Beside him stood Fear and Flight, eager to
plunge amidst the fighting men.

(ll. 197-200) There, too, was the daughter of Zeus, Tritogeneia
who drives the spoil (3).  She was like as if she would array a
battle, with a spear in her hand, and a golden helmet, and the
aegis about her shoulders.  And she was going towards the awful

(ll. 201-206) And there was the holy company of the deathless
gods: and in the midst the son of Zeus and Leto played sweetly on
a golden lyre.  There also was the abode of the gods, pure
Olympus, and their assembly, and infinite riches were spread
around in the gathering, the Muses of Pieria were beginning a
song like clear-voiced singers.

(ll. 207-215) And on the shield was a harbour with a safe haven
from the irresistible sea, made of refined tin wrought in a
circle, and it seemed to heave with waves.  In the middle of it
were many dolphins rushing this way and that, fishing: and they
seemed to be swimming.  Two dolphins of silver were spouting and
devouring the mute fishes.  And beneath them fishes or bronze
were trembling.  And on the shore sat a fisherman watching: in
his hands he held a casting net for fish, and seemed as if about
to cast it forth.

(ll. 216-237) There, too, was the son of rich-haired Danae, the
horseman Perseus: his feet did not touch the shield and yet were
not far from it -- very marvellous to remark, since he was not
supported anywhere; for so did the famous Lame One fashion him of
gold with his hands.  On his feet he had winged sandals, and his
black-sheathed sword was slung across his shoulders by a cross-
belt of bronze.  He was flying swift as thought.  The head of a
dreadful monster, the Gorgon, covered the broad of his back, and
a bag of silver -- a marvel to see -- contained it: and from the
bag bright tassels of gold hung down.  Upon the head of the hero
lay the dread cap (4) of Hades which had the awful gloom of
night.  Perseus himself, the son of Danae, was at full stretch,
like one who hurries and shudders with horror.  And after him
rushed the Gorgons, unapproachable and unspeakable, longing to
seize him: as they trod upon the pale adamant, the shield rang
sharp and clear with a loud clanging.  Two serpents hung down at
their girdles with heads curved forward: their tongues were
flickering, and their teeth gnashing with fury, and their eyes
glaring fiercely.  And upon the awful heads of the Gorgons great
Fear was quaking.

(ll. 237-270) And beyond these there were men fighting in warlike
harness, some defending their own town and parents from
destruction, and others eager to sack it; many lay dead, but the
greater number still strove and fought.  The women on well-built
towers of bronze were crying shrilly and tearing their cheeks
like living beings -- the work of famous Hephaestus.  And the men
who were elders and on whom age had laid hold were all together
outside the gates, and were holding up their hands to the blessed
gods, fearing for their own sons.  But these again were engaged
ib battle: and behind them the dusky Fates, gnashing their white
fangs, lowering, grim, bloody, and unapproachable, struggled for
those who were falling, for they all were longing to drink dark
blood.  So soon as they caught a man overthrown or falling newly
wounded, one of them would clasp her great claws about him, and
his soul would go down to Hades to chilly Tartarus.  And when
they had satisfied their souls with human blood, they would cast
that one behind them, and rush back again into the tumult and the
fray.  Clotho and Lachesis were over them and Atropos less tall
than they, a goddess of no great frame, yet superior to the
others and the eldest of them.  And they all made a fierce fight
over one poor wretch, glaring evilly at one another with furious
eyes and fighting equally with claws and hands.  By them stood
Darkness of Death, mournful and fearful, pale, shrivelled, shrunk
with hunger, swollen-kneed.  Long nails tipped her hands, and she
dribbled at the nose, and from her cheeks blood dripped down to
the ground.  She stood leering hideously, and much dust sodden
with tears lay upon her shoulders.

(ll. 270-285) Next, there was a city of men with goodly towers;
and seven gates of gold, fitted to the lintels, guarded it.  The
men were making merry with festivities and dances; some were
bringing home a bride to her husband on a well-wheeled car, while
the bridal-song swelled high, and the glow of blazing torches
held by handmaidens rolled in waves afar.  And these maidens went
before, delighting in the festival; and after them came
frolicsome choirs, the youths singing soft-mouthed to the sound
of shrill pipes, while the echo was shivered around them, and the
girls led on the lovely dance to the sound of lyres.  Then again
on the other side was a rout of young men revelling, with flutes
playing; some frolicking with dance and song, and others were
going forward in time with a flute player and laughing.  The
whole town was filled with mirth and dance and festivity.

(ll. 285-304) Others again were mounted on horseback and
galloping before the town.  And there were ploughmen breaking up
the good soul, clothed in tunics girt up.  Also there was a wide
cornland and some men were reaping with sharp hooks the stalks
which bended with the weight of the cars -- as if they were
reaping Demeter's grain: others were binding the sheaves with
bands and were spreading the threshing floor.  And some held
reaping hooks and were gathering the vintage, while others were
taking from the reapers into baskets white and black clusters
from the long rows of vines which were heavy with leaves and
tendrils of silver.  Others again were gathering them into
baskets.  Beside them was a row of vines in gold, the splendid
work of cunning Hephaestus: it had shivering leaves and stakes of
silver and was laden with grapes which turned black (5).  And
there were men treading out the grapes and others drawing off
liquor.  Also there were men boxing and wrestling, and huntsmen
chasing swift hares with a leash of sharp-toothed dogs before
them, they eager to catch the hares, and the hares eager to

(ll 305-313) Next to them were horsemen hard set, and they
contended and laboured for a prize.  The charioteers standing on
their well-woven cars, urged on their swift horses with loose
rein; the jointed cars flew along clattering and the naves of the
wheels shrieked loudly.  So they were engaged in an unending
toil, and the end with victory came never to them, and the
contest was ever unwon.  And there was set out for them within
the course a great tripod of gold, the splendid work of cunning

(ll. 314-317) And round the rim Ocean was flowing, with a full
stream as it seemed, and enclosed all the cunning work of the
shield.  Over it swans were soaring and calling loudly, and many
others were swimming upon the surface of the water; and near them
were shoals of fish.

(ll. 318-326) A wonderful thing the great strong shield was to
see -- even for Zeus the loud-thunderer, by whose will Hephaestus
made it and fitted it with his hands.  This shield the valiant
son of Zeus wielded masterly, and leaped upon his horse-chariot
like the lightning of his father Zeus who holds the aegis, moving
lithely.  And his charioteer, strong Iolaus, standing upon the
car, guided the curved chariot.

(ll. 327-337) Then the goddess grey-eyed Athene came near them
and spoke winged words, encouraging them: `Hail, offspring of
far-famed Lynceus!  Even now Zeus who reigns over the blessed
gods gives you power to slay Cycnus and to strip off his splendid
armour.  Yet I will tell you something besides, mightiest of the
people.  When you have robbed Cycnus of sweet life, then leave
him there and his armour also, and you yourself watch man-slaying
Ares narrowly as he attacks, and wherever you shall see him
uncovered below his cunningly-wrought shield, there wound him
with your sharp spear.  Then draw back; for it is not ordained
that you should take his horses or his splendid armour.'

(ll. 338-349) So said the bright-eyed goddess and swiftly got up
into the car with victory and renown in her hands.  Then heaven-
nurtured Iolaus called terribly to the horses, and at his cry
they swiftly whirled the fleet chariot along, raising dust from
the plain; for the goddess bright-eyed Athene put mettle into
them by shaking her aegis.  And the earth groaned all round them.

And they, horse-taming Cycnus and Ares, insatiable in war, came
on together like fire or whirlwind.  Then their horses neighed
shrilly, face to face; and the echo was shivered all round them. 
And mighty Heracles spoke first and said to that other:

(ll. 350-367) `Cycnus, good sir!  Why, pray, do you set your
swift horses at us, men who are tried in labour and pain?  Nay,
guide your fleet car aside and yield and go out of the path.  It
is to Trachis I am driving on, to Ceyx the king, who is the first
in Trachis for power and for honour, and that you yourself know
well, for you have his daughter dark-eyed Themistinoe to wife. 
Fool!  For Ares shall not deliver you from the end of death, if
we two meet together in battle.  Another time ere this I declare
he has made trial of my spear, when he defended sandy Pylos and
stood against me, fiercely longing for fight.  Thrice was he
stricken by my spear and dashed to earth, and his shield was
pierced; but the fourth time I struck his thigh, laying on with
all my strength, and tare deep into his flesh.  And he fell
headlong in the dust upon the ground through the force of my
spear-thrust; then truly he would have been disgraced among the
deathless gods, if by my hands he had left behind his bloody

(ll. 368-385) So said he.  But Cycnus the stout spearman cared
not to obey him and to pull up the horses that drew his chariot. 
Then it was that from their well-woven cars they both leaped
straight to the ground, the son of Zeus and the son of the Lord
of War.  The charioteers drove near by their horses with
beautiful manes, and the wide earth rang with the beat of their
hoofs as they rushed along.  As when rocks leap forth from the
high peak of a great mountain, and fall on one another, and many
towering oaks and pines and long-rooted poplars are broken by
them as they whirl swiftly down until they reach the plain; so
did they fall on one another with a great shout: and all the town
of the Myrmidons, and famous Iolcus, and Arne, and Helice, and
grassy Anthea echoed loudly at the voice of the two.  With an
awful cry they closed: and wise Zeus thundered loudly and rained
down drops of blood, giving the signal for battle to his
dauntless son.

(ll. 386-401) As a tusked boar, that is fearful for a man to see
before him in the glens of a mountain, resolves to fight with the
huntsmen and white tusks, turning sideways, while foam flows all
round his mouth as he gnashes, and his eyes are like glowing
fire, and he bristles the hair on his mane and around his neck --
like him the son of Zeus leaped from his horse-chariot.  And when
the dark-winged whirring grasshopper, perched on a green shoot,
begins to sing of summer to men -- his food and drink is the
dainty dew -- and all day long from dawn pours forth his voice in
the deadliest heat, when Sirius scorches the flesh (then the
beard grows upon the millet which men sow in summer), when the
crude grapes which Dionysus gave to men -- a joy and a sorrow
both -- begin to colour, in that season they fought and loud rose
the clamour.

(ll. 402-412) As two lions (6) on either side of a slain deer
spring at one another in fury, and there is a fearful snarling
and a clashing also of teeth -- like vultures with crooked talons
and hooked beak that fight and scream aloud on a high rock over a
mountain goat or fat wild-deer which some active man has shot
with an arrow from the string, and himself has wandered away
elsewhere, not knowing the place; but they quickly mark it and
vehemently do keen battle about it -- like these they two rushed
upon one another with a shout.

(ll. 413-423) Then Cycnus, eager to kill the son of almighty
Zeus, struck upon his shield with a brazen spear, but did not
break the bronze; and the gift of the god saved his foe.  But the
son of Amphitryon, mighty Heracles, with his long spear struck
Cycnus violently in the neck beneath the chin, where it was
unguarded between helm and shield.  And the deadly spear cut
through the two sinews; for the hero's full strength lighted on
his foe.  And Cycnus fell as an oak falls or a lofty pine that is
stricken by the lurid thunderbolt of Zeus; even so he fell, and
his armour adorned with bronze clashed about him.

(ll. 424-442) Then the stout hearted son of Zeus let him be, and
himself watched for the onset of manslaying Ares: fiercely he
stared, like a lion who has come upon a body and full eagerly
rips the hide with his strong claws and takes away the sweet life
with all speed: his dark heart is filled with rage and his eyes
glare fiercely, while he tears up the earth with his paws and
lashes his flanks and shoulders with his tail so that no one
dares to face him and go near to give battle.  Even so, the son
of Amphitryon, unsated of battle, stood eagerly face to face with
Ares, nursing courage in his heart.  And Ares drew near him with
grief in his heart; and they both sprang at one another with a
cry.  As it is when a rock shoots out from a great cliff and
whirls down with long bounds, careering eagerly with a roar, and
a high crag clashes with it and keeps it there where they strike
together; with no less clamour did deadly Ares, the chariot-
borne, rush shouting at Heracles.  And he quickly received the

(ll. 443-449) But Athene the daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus came
to meet Ares, wearing the dark aegis, and she looked at him with
an angry frown and spoke winged words to him.  `Ares, check your
fierce anger and matchless hands; for it is not ordained that you
should kill Heracles, the bold-hearted son of Zeus, and strip off
his rich armour.  Come, then, cease fighting and do not withstand

(ll. 450-466) So said she, but did not move the courageous spirit
of Ares.  But he uttered a great shout and waving his spears like
fire, he rushed headlong at strong Heracles, longing to kill him,
and hurled a brazen spear upon the great shield, for he was
furiously angry because of his dead son; but bright-eyed Athene
reached out from the car and turned aside the force of the spear.

Then bitter grief seized Ares and he drew his keen sword and
leaped upon bold-hearted Heracles.  But as he came on, the son of
Amphitryon, unsated of fierce battle, shrewdly wounded his thigh
where it was exposed under his richly-wrought shield, and tare
deep into his flesh with the spear-thrust and cast him flat upon
the ground.  And Panic and Dread quickly drove his smooth-wheeled
chariot and horses near him and lifted him from the wide-pathed
earth into his richly-wrought car, and then straight lashed the
horses and came to high Olympus.

(ll. 467-471) But the son of Alemena and glorious Iolaus stripped
the fine armour off Cycnus' shoulders and went, and their swift
horses carried them straight to the city of Trachis.  And bright-
eyed Athene went thence to great Olympus and her father's house.

(ll. 472-480) As for Cycnus, Ceyx buried him and the countless
people who lived near the city of the glorious king, in Anthe and
the city of the Myrmidons, and famous Iolcus, and Arne, and
Helice: and much people were gathered doing honour to Ceyx, the
friend of the blessed gods.  But Anaurus, swelled by a rain-
storm, blotted out the grave and memorial of Cycnus; for so
Apollo, Leto's son, commanded him, because he used to watch for
and violently despoil the rich hecatombs that any might bring to


(1)  A mountain peak near Thebes which took its name from the
     Sphinx (called in "Theogony" l. 326 PHIX).
(2)  Cyanus was a glass-paste of deep blue colour: the `zones'
     were concentric bands in which were the scenes described by
     the poet.  The figure of Fear (l. 44) occupied the centre of
     the shield, and Oceanus (l. 314) enclosed the whole.
(3)  `She who drives herds,' i.e. `The Victorious', since herds
     were the chief spoil gained by the victor in ancient
(4)  The cap of darkness which made its wearer invisible.
(5)  The existing text of the vineyard scene is a compound of two
     different versions, clumsily adapted, and eked out with some
     makeshift additions.
(6)  The conception is similar to that of the sculptured group at
     Athens of Two Lions devouring a Bull (Dickens, "Cat. of the
     Acropolis Museaum", No. 3).