Sunday, November 29, 2015

8th Labour of Hercules: Stealing the Mares (Man-Eating Horses) of Diomedes

The 8th Labour was to steal the Man-Eating Horses (Mares)of Diomedes. The horses had been trained to eat human flesh by their owner, King Diomedes. King Diomedes Thrace was a giant, the son of Ares and Cyrene who lived on the shores of the Black Sea. There are two variations of this Greek myth.

Hercules stealing the Man-Eating Horses of Diomedes.
Hercules stealing the Man-Eating Horses of Diomedes.
In one variation of the story, Hercules brought young people to help him. They myth says that they successfully took the mares and then they chased by Diomedes and his men. Hercules was not aware that the horses, called Podargos, Lampon, Xanthos and Deinos were wild due to their madness and they had to kept tethered to a bronze manger. It is believed that their madness is results to the unnatural diet of human flesh. Some versions of this myth say that they expelled fire when they breathed. They were man-eating and uncontrollable, and Heracles left his favoured companion, Abderus, in charge of them while he fought Diomedes. However, when he returned she found out that the boy was eaten by the horses. In revenge, Hercules fed Diomedes to his own horses.

In another variation of the myth, Hercules stayed awake to protect himself from Diomedes in the night. Having scared the horses onto the high ground of a peninsula, Hercules quickly dug a trench through the peninsula, filling it with water, thus making it an island. When Diomedes arrived, Hercules killed him with the axe he had used to dig the trench, and fed him to the horses to calm them.

In both versions, the horses after eating they are calmer, and Hercules took the opportunity to bind their mouths shut. Hercules then, transfered them back to Eurystheus, who dedicated the horses to Hera. In some versions, they were allowed to roam freely around Argos, having become permanently calm. In others, Eurystheus ordered the horses taken to Olympus to be sacrificed to Zeus, but Zeus refused them, and sent wolves, lions, and bears to kill them.

Next task assigned from Eurystheus for Hercules, was the 9th task to obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.