The Fifth Labor

: Myths And Legends Of All Nations.

Thereupon King Eurystheus sent him upon the fifth labor, which was one

little worthy of a hero. It was to clean the stables of Augeas in a

single day.

Augeas was king in Elis and had great herds of cattle. These herds

were kept, according to the custom, in a great inclosure before the

palace. Three thousand cattle were housed there, and as the stables

had not been cleaned for many years, so much manure ha

that it seemed an insult to ask Hercules to clean them in one day.

When the hero stepped before King Augeas and without telling him

anything of the demands of Eurystheus, pledged himself to the task,

the latter measured the noble form in the lion-skin and could hardly

refrain from laughing when he thought of so worthy a warrior

undertaking so menial a work. But he said to himself: "Necessity has

driven many a brave man; perhaps this one wishes to enrich himself

through me. That will help him little. I can promise him a large

reward if he cleans out the stables, for he can in one day clear

little enough." Then he spoke confidently:

"Listen, O stranger. If you clean all of my stables in one day, I will

give over to you the tenth part of all my possessions in cattle."

Hercules accepted the offer, and the king expected to see him begin

to shovel. But Hercules, after he had called the son of Augeas to

witness the agreement, tore the foundations away from one side of the

stables; directed to it by means of a canal the streams of Alpheus and

Peneus that flowed near by; and let the waters carry away the filth

through another opening. So he accomplished the menial work without

stooping to anything unworthy of an immortal.

When Augeas learned that this work had been done in the service of

Eurystheus, he refused the reward and said that he had not promised

it; but he declared himself ready to have the question settled in

court. When the judges were assembled, Phyleus, commanded by Hercules

to appear, testified against his father, and explained how he had

agreed to offer Hercules a reward. Augeas did not wait for the

decision; he grew angry and commanded his son as well as the stranger

to leave his kingdom instantly.