Hercules, a Greek hero celebrated for his great strength, was pursued throughout his life by the hatred of Juno. While yet an infant he strangled some serpents sent by the goddess to destroy him. During his boyhood and youth he performed various marvelous feats of strength, and on reaching manhood he succeeded in delivering the Thebans from the oppression of the Minyae. In a fit of madness, sent upon him by Juno, he slew his own children; and, on consulting the Delphic oracle as to how he should cleanse himself from this crime, he was ordered to submit himself for twelve years to Eurystheus, king of Tiryns, and to perform whatever tasks were appointed him. Hercules obeyed the oracle, and during the twelve years of his servitude accomplished twelve extraordinary feats known as the Labors of Hercules. His death was caused, unintentionally, by his wife Deiani’ra. Hercules had shot with his poisoned arrows a centaur named Nessus, who had insulted Deianira. Nessus, before he died, gave some of his blood to Deianira, and told her it would act as a charm to secure her husband’s love. Some time after, Deianira, wishing to try the charm, soaked one of her husband’s garments in the blood, not knowing that it was poisoned. Hercules put on the robe, and, after suffering terrible torments, died, or was carried off by his father Jupiter.
[Illustration: HERCULES ET SERPENTES]
LIII. THE INFANT HERCULES AND THE SERPENTS
Di grave supplicium summit de malis, sed ii qui legibus deorum parent, etiam post mortem curantur. Illa vita dis erat gratissima quae hominibus miseris utilissima fuerat. Omnium autem praemiorum summum erat immortalitas. Illud praemium Herculi datum est.
Herculis pater fuit Iuppiter, mater Alcmena, et omnium hominum validissimus fuisse dicitur. Sed Iuno, regina deorum, eum, adhuc infantem, interficere studebat; nam ei et Hercules et Alcmena erant invisi. Itaque misit duas serpentis, utramque saevissimam, quae media nocte domum Alcmenae venerunt. Ibi Hercules, cum fratre suo, non in lectulo sed in scuto ingenti dormiebat. Iam audaces serpentes adpropinquaverant, iam scutum movebant. Tum frater, terrore commotus, magna voce matrem vocavit, sed Hercules ipse, fortior quam frater, statim ingentis serpentis manibus suis rapuit et interfecit.
[Footnote 1: This number
refers to the lesson after which the
selection may be read.]
[Footnote 2: Di:\ and di:s\ are from deus\. Cf. Sec. 468.]
[Footnote 3: legibus\, Sec. 501.14.]
[Footnote 1: ei\, _to her_, referring to Juno.]
[Footnote 2: et ... et\, _both ... and_.]
[Footnote 3: domum\, Sec. 501.20.]