Chapter 22

Now, King Eurystheus thought he was really clever with the next labor he sent Herakles on! King Augeas had great herds of cattle and horses, and there was so much manure built up around them that the stench in the King's city was almost too much for the people to bear! Herakles was instructed to clean the stables in one day! The King thought sure he had gotten the best of Herakles. But he had no idea Creos was helping him, and knew the answer almost immediately. Two rivers flowed by the city. He told Herakles to divert both rivers while he and some of his friends herded the cattle and horses to high ground. With the water flowing through the stables Herakles quickly grabbed brooms and swept the refuge into the flow, carrying it downstream. Within hours the whole area had been swept clean!
2 The King was so pleased that his city was again clean that he offered Herakles a payment, to spend the night with his youngest daughter, who was a virgin. Herakles thought it very rude to refuse such a gift and spent the night with the girl, producing a son who became the family's pride and joy! But when King Eurystheus heard that Herakles had taken a payment for the labor he refused to count it! His daughter was also not pleased with the manner in which Herakles had been rewarded. But knowing how desirable he was to women, she forgave him.
3 The King did not get out of this labor without problems, either! All the waste that Herakles had put into the river killed the fish and made it undrinkable to all those that lived downstream for months until the floods finally washed it away. He ended up having to pay large sums in restitution, and again the people were complaining constantly that they wanted to be rid of Herakles! His labors were destroying their country! But the King decided to send Herakles on a labor far away that would not possibly cause him any grief.
4 Dwelling in the swamps of Lake Stymphalus in Arcadia was a flock of large birds that were a horror to everyone in the area. Children could not go outside during the day. Any child in the open would be snatched up by one of the birds, carried back to its nest, ripped apart, and fed to its chicks. Goats and sheep could not be let out into the pastures during the day or their offspring, too, would be carried off! But no one could get at the birds because the marsh where they lived was impassible! Not even Herakles would be able to walk on it! The King thought surely this task would defeat his daughter's suitor. But Herakles had the solution without even asking Creos' help!
5 He remembered how he had killed the birds by hitting them with the stones that he sent flying with his club. He went to the lake, gathered stones, placed them all around it, then began to run around the lake knocking the birds out of the air as they tried to take flight. But soon the birds got weary. Seeing so many of their comrades struck from the sky they would not take flight.
6 Now the goddess Athena happened to be passing by and stopped to watch what Herakles was doing, and wondered how she might help. Then she remembered that people complained that sometimes when she got dancing with her castanets she made too much of a din when she lost control of herself in the dancing. She got out her castanets and began to dance around the lake, going faster and faster. Soon the noise was too much for the birds to bear and they took flight trying to flee! This was all that Herakles needed! Circling the lake at such speed that people watching could barely see him, he knocked each bird from the sky! When the last one fell the people cheered. But Herakles' work was not done. Now, without the adult birds to hinder him he got a boat and went out into the marsh and went from tree to tree throttling all the young birds, for he could not simply leave them all to starve to death. When he was done he headed back for the King who thought "Now this was a labor that would cause him no trouble!" He did not realize that though the birds had been a nuisance they also kept the vermin down in the area, and soon the people were overrun with every manner of pest! And the King of that land had to hire hundreds of hunters to come in and trap and kill all the creatures that were devouring his crops!
7 Again, the King had to pay restitution and the people were not pleased. It seemed no matter what labor he chose it never ended up the way he thought it would! It always caused him difficulties. So he thought very hard about the next labor.
8 The next labor that he put Herakles to was to rid the Labyrinths of King Minos of the minotaur who was the son of the King's wife and a bull that she had fallen madly in love with. Herakles again and again caught the minotaur outside the Labyrinths and fought it, but the bull had been the offspring of one of The Olympians and the minotaur was just as strong as Herakles! After fighting Herakles viciously it would escape and get back to the Labyrinth. Herakles was at a loss as to how to keep the minotaur out of the Labyrinth so he could fight it, for even he could not find it in that dark maze of tunnels! Creos, watching all of this with amusement, sat on a rock laughing over Herakles' frustration. "All right," Herakles grunted, "what would you do?"
9 Creos went to the bottom most part of the Labyrinth. Finding a deposit of clay he blocked the exit, and then heaped stones on it to keep it in place. Then, he went to the upper most part and diverted a stream so it flowed into the Labyrinth. Within three days water flowed out every one of the remaining entrances. There were only a few places where the minotaur could only run from entrance to entrance. His hiding place was gone!
10 Herakles persued him constantly, day and night. Finally the minotaur escaped by swimming away, never to return again. Though Herakles had not slain it he had gotten rid of it. However, when he unplugged the labyrinth and let the water out, King Minos' castle collapsed and had to be rebuilt. King Eurystheus had to pay restitution. To shut him up Herakles dove into the sea and came back with a great chunk of gold. It was enough to satisfy King Minos. But again King Eurystheus gained nothing!

Page 36

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