Friday, November 27, 2015

3rd Labour of Hercules: Ceryneian Hind (deer) of Artemis

Hercules holding the Ceryneian Hind.
Hercules and Ceryneian Hind.
The third labour of Hercules was to capture the Ceryneian Hind (deer) of the goddess of hunt Artemis, which was so fast that it could outrun an arrow. The Ceryneian Hind (Κερυνῖτις ἔλαφος), was an enormous deer, who lived in Keryneia, Greece. This was a special deer, because it had golden horns and hoofs of bronze and it was sacred to goddess of hunt, animals and unmarried women, Artemis. According to the Greek Myth, it had golden antlers like a stag and hooves of bronze or brass, and it was said that it could outrun an arrow.

Hercules then chased the deer for a full year through Greece, Thrace, Istria, and the land of the Hyperboreans. There are three versions of this Greek myth. In the first one, he captured the hind while it slept with a trap net. In other versions, he encountered Artemis in her temple. She was very angry because Hercules tried to kill her sacred animal. 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 Hercules trapped the Hind with an arrow between its forelegs.

Eurystheus had given Hercules this task hoping to get Artemis angry to Hercules for his capture. 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 punishment. He promised to return it and Artemis forgave him.

When Hercules returned, Eurystheus told him that it was to become part of the King's menagerie.
However, Hercules knew that he had to return the hind as he had promised. Then he agreed to hand it over on the condition that Eurystheus himself come out and take it from him. The King came out, but when Hercules let the hind go, it sprinted back to its mistress goddess Artemis. Hercules said that Eurystheus had not been quick enough.