The Sixth Labor





Hercules now returned with new adventures to Eurystheus; but the

latter would not give him credit for the task because Hercules had

demanded a reward for his labor. He sent the hero forth upon a sixth

adventure, commanding him to drive away the Stymphalides. These were

monster birds of prey, as large as cranes, with iron feathers, beaks

and claws. They lived on the banks of Lake Stymphalus in Arcadia, and

had the power of using their feathers as arrows and piercing with

their beaks even bronze coats of mail. Thus they brought destruction

to both animals and men in all the surrounding country.



After a short journey Hercules, accustomed to wandering, arrived at

the lake, which was thickly shaded by a wood. Into this wood a great

flock of the birds had flown for fear of being robbed by wolves.

The hero stood undecided when he saw the frightful crowd, not knowing

how he could become master over so many enemies. Then he felt a light

touch on his shoulder, and glancing behind him saw the tall figure of

the goddess Minerva, who gave into his hands two mighty brass rattles

made by Vulcan. Telling him to use these to drive away the

Stymphalides, she disappeared.



Hercules mounted a hill near the lake, and began frightening the birds

by the noise of the rattles. The Stymphalides could not endure the

awful noise and flew, terrified, out of the forest. Then Hercules

seized his bow and sent arrow after arrow in pursuit of them, shooting

many as they flew. Those who were not killed left the lake and never

returned.





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