The Eighth Labor

The eighth labor of Hercules was to bring the mares of the Thracian

Diomede to Mycene. Diomede was a son of Mars and ruler of the

Bistonians, a very warlike people. He had mares so wild and strong

that they had to be fastened with iron chains. Their fodder was

chiefly hay; but strangers who had the misfortune to come into the

city were thrown before them, their flesh serving the animals as food.

When Hercules arrived the first thing he did was to seize the inhuman

king himself and after he had overpowered the keepers, throw him

before his own mares. With this food the animals were satisfied and

Hercules was able to drive them to the sea.

But the Bistonians followed him with weapons, and Hercules was forced

to turn and fight them. He gave the horses into the keeping of his

beloved companion Abderus, the son of Mercury, and while Hercules was

away the animals grew hungry again and devoured their keeper.

Hercules, returning, was greatly grieved over this loss, and later

founded a city in honor of Abderus, naming it after his lost friend.

For the present he was content to master the mares and drive them

without further mishap to Eurystheus.

The latter consecrated the horses to Juno. Their descendants were very

powerful, and the great king Alexander of Macedonia rode one of them.

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