Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Seventh Labor of Hercules

King Minos of Crete had promised Neptune (Poseidon), god of the sea, to offer to him whatever animal should first come up out of the water, for he declared he had no animal that was worthy for so high a sacrifice. Therefore the god caused a very beautiful ox to rise out of the sea. But the king was so taken with the noble appearance of the animal that he secretly placed it among his own herds and offered another to Neptune. Angered by this, the god had caused the animal to become mad, and it was bringing great destruction to the island of Crete. To capture this animal, master it, and bring it before Eurystheus, was the seventh labor of Hercules.

When the hero came to Crete and with this intention stepped before Minos, the king was not a little pleased over the prospect of ridding the island of the bull, and he himself helped Hercules to capture the raging animal. Hercules approached the dreadful monster without fear, and so thoroughly did he master him that he rode home on the animal the whole way to the sea.

With this work Eurystheus was pleased, and after he had regarded the animal for a time with pleasure, set it free. No longer under Hercules' management, the ox became wild again, wandered through all Laconia and Arcadia, crossed over the isthmus to Marathon in Attica and devastated the country there as formerly on the island of Crete. Later it was given to the hero Theseus to become master over him.