The Ninth Labor





Returning from a long journey, the hero undertook an expedition

against the Amazons in order to finish the ninth adventure and bring

to King Eurystheus the sword belt of the Amazon Hippolyta.



The Amazons inhabited the region of the river Thermodon and were a

race of strong women who followed the occupations of men. From their

children they selected only such as were girls. United in an army,

they waged great wars. Their queen, Hippolyta, wore, as a sign of her

leadership, a girdle which the goddess of war had given her as a

present.



Hercules gathered his warrior companions together into a ship, sailed

after many adventures into the Black Sea and at last into the mouth of

the river Thermodon, and the harbor of the Amazon city Themiscira.

Here the queen of the Amazons met him.



The lordly appearance of the hero flattered her pride, and when she

heard the object of his visit, she promised him the belt. But Juno,

the relentless enemy of Hercules, assuming the form of an Amazon,

mingled among the others and spread the news that a stranger was about

to lead away their queen. Then the Amazons fought with the warriors of

Hercules, and the best fighters of them attacked the hero and gave him

a hard battle.



The first who began fighting with him was called, because of her

swiftness, Aella, or Bride of the Wind; but she found in Hercules a

swifter opponent, was forced to yield and was in her swift flight

overtaken by him and vanquished. A second fell at the first attack;

then Prothoe, the third, who had come off victor in seven duels, also

fell. Hercules laid low eight others, among them three hunter

companions of Diana, who, although formerly always certain with their

weapons, today failed in their aim, and vainly covering themselves

with their shields fell before the arrows of the hero. Even Alkippe

fell, who had sworn to live her whole live unmarried: the vow she

kept, but not her life.



After even Melanippe, the brave leader of the Amazons, was made

captive, all the rest took to wild flight, and Hippolyta the queen

handed over the sword belt which she had promised even before the

fight. Hercules took it as ransom and set Melanippe free.





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