The Tenth Labor

: Myths And Legends Of All Nations.

When the hero laid the sword belt of Queen Hippolyta at the feet of

Eurystheus, the latter gave him no rest, but sent him out immediately

to procure the cattle of the giant Geryone. The latter dwelt on an

island in the midst of the sea, and possessed a herd of beautiful

red-brown cattle, which were guarded by another giant and a two-headed


Geryone himself was enormous, had three bodies, three heads,
ix arms

and six feet. No son of earth had ever measured his strength against

him, and Hercules realized exactly how many preparations were

necessary for this heavy undertaking. As everybody knew, Geryone's

father, who bore the name "Gold-Sword" because of his riches, was king

of all Iberia (Spain). Besides Geryone he had three brave giant sons

who fought for him; and each son had a mighty army of soldiers under

his command. For these very reasons had Eurystheus given the task to

Hercules, for he hoped that his hated existence would at last be ended

in a war in such a country. Yet Hercules set out on this undertaking

no more dismayed than on any previous expedition.

He gathered together his army on the island of Crete, which he had

freed from wild animals, and landed first in Libya. Here he met the

giant Antaeus, whose strength was renewed as often as he touched the

earth. He also freed Libya of birds of prey; for he hated wild

animals and wicked men because he saw in all of them the image of the

overbearing and unjust lord whom he so long had served.

After long wandering through desert country he came at last to a

fruitful land, through which great streams flowed. Here he founded a

city of vast size, which he named Hecatompylos (City of a Hundred

Gates). Then at last he reached the Atlantic Ocean and planted the two

mighty pillars which bear his name.

The sun burned so fiercely that Hercules could bear it no longer; he

raised his eyes to heaven and with raised bow threatened the sun-god.

Apollo wondered at his courage and lent him for his further journeys

the bark in which he himself was accustomed to lie from sunset to

sunrise. In this Hercules sailed to Iberia.

Here he found the three sons of Gold-Sword with three great armies

camping near each other; but he killed all the leaders and plundered

the land. Then he sailed to the island Erythia, where Geryone dwelt

with his herds.

As soon as the two-headed dog knew of his approach he sprang toward

him; but Hercules struck him with his club and killed him. He killed

also the giant herdsman who came to the help of the dog. Then he

hurried away with the cattle.

But Geryone overtook him and there was a fierce struggle. Juno herself

offered to assist the giant; but Hercules shot her with an arrow deep

in the heart, and the goddess, wounded, fled. Even the threefold body

of the giant which ran together in the region of the stomach, felt the

might of the deadly arrows and was forced to yield.

With glorious adventures Hercules continued his way home, driving the

cattle across country through Iberia and Italy. At Rhegium in lower

Italy one of his oxen got away and swam across the strait to Sicily.

Immediately Hercules drove the other cattle into the water and swam,

holding one by the horns, to Sicily. Then the hero pursued his way

without misfortune through Italy, Illyria and Thrace to Greece.

Hercules had now accomplished ten labors; but Eurystheus was still

unsatisfied and there were two more tasks to be undertaken.