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Hawaiian Astronomical Society

Constellations: Hercules -- His Sixth though Ninth Labors

After killing his family in an insane rage, Herakles (also known as Hercules) received orders from the oracle at Delphi to perform 12 labors to purge his sin. These were assigned by Eurystheus, king of Mycenae.

Again, Herakles set out to destroy monsters, birds that ate human flesh, and that nested around the dark waters of the Stymphalian lake. Herakles did not fear the birds, he had trouble finding them.

Athena aided him, giving him a giant brass rattle. Its noise sent them airborne by the thousands. Herakles fired arrows at them, killing them all.

The seventh task involved the capture of a bull on Crete that destroyed the countryside. Herakles grappled with the bull bare handed, and brought the animal back to Eurystheus alive. The brave king fled in terror.

Next, Herakles traveled north to Thrace, ruled by king Diomedes. He had one small flaw, he liked to feed his horses (mares) human flesh. When Herakles conquered him, he fed the king to his own horses. Then he brought the horses to Eurystheus. Eurystheus hid and ordered the horses taken to Olympus, and sacrificed to Zeus. Zeus refused them, sending wolves, lions, and bears to kill them.

Herakles' ninth labor involved capturing the girdle of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons. She led an army of warrior women. This involved crossing mountains, fighting battles, crossing seas, boring stuff. Later, Hippolyte married Theseus of Athens.

Click here for the tenth labor.