The Twelve Labours of Hercules, Son of Jupiter and Alcmena
The Mænalæan Stag.
A Stag with horns of gold and feet of brass,
On Mænalus bounds o'er th'unbending grass,
To Dian sacred, this he's doom'd to bring,
Unhurt into the presence of the King,
Forbid to wound, how take a Stag so fleet?
A twelvemonth's end scarce saw the task complete.
The Erymanthian Boar.
To Erymanthus next his course is bent,
To seize the Boar by incensed Dian sent,
The fell destroyer bound he o'er him flings,
And unto scared Eurystheus quickly brings,
The trembling Tyrant shrinks aghast with dread,
And in his brazen Vessel hides his coward head.
The Stables of Augeas.
To cleanse the Augean Stables now he's sped,
Where thirty years three thousand Oxen fed;
The task for man too great. A river's course
He turn'd, & thro' the stables urged its force,
The tide resistless rolls, and in one day
The gather'd filth of years is swept away.
The Lake Stymphalus by his arm was freed,
From those dire birds on human flesh who feed,
By Pallas' aid the dreadful race subdued,
No more its banks with whitening bones are strew'd.
Honour'd by all mankind he now returns,
But still Eurystheus' envious hatred burns.
The Cretan Bull.
A furious Bull with nostrils breathing fire,
To punish Minos sent by Neptune's ire,
Roams wild in vengeance thro' his wide domains,
And death & terror spreads o'er Crete's fair plains;
But soon the bellowing beast alive he caught,
And vainly struggling to Eurystheus brought.
Diomedes and his Horses.
Fell Diomed, whose horses fat with gore,
His subjects bodies in their mangers tore,
He next o'erthrew. And as old authors say,
The Tyrant gave to his own steeds a prey,
On Mount Olympus rent by savage beasts,
No more the horses make on man their horrid feasts.
The Amazon Hippolite.
By Fate constrain'd Eurystheus to obey,
The matchless Hero now must bend his way,
To gain the golden girdle which adorns
The Queen of Amazons. Who proudly scorns
To yield, and in her warriors doth confide—
But vanquish'd she becomes great Theseus' bride.
A Giant King in Gades once did keep,
(Unlike their gentle race) carnivorous sheep,
The triple monster slain, amidst his rocks
He left to birds a prey, and seiz'd his flocks,
Which by Eurystheus' order brought away
He unto Argos safely did convey.
In fetters Hercules fierce Cerberus tied,
And took him trembling from grim Pluto's side,
From realms of darkness drag'd away to light,
The yelling monster sicken'd at the sight,
And from his jaws the foam which fell to earth,
Unto the poisonous Aconite gave birth.
To crown his deeds, so wondrous & so great,
Upon his shoulders vast Olympus' weight
He bore, while Atlas did the apples bring,
Which bridal Juno gave to Heaven's dread King.
And now the dragon guarded apples won,
The Godlike Hero, saw his Labours done.