Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns, and Homerica eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 327 pages of information about Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns, and Homerica.

Fragment #16 —­ Antoninus Liberalis, xxiii:  Battus.  Hesiod tells the story in the “Great Eoiae".... ....Magnes was the son of Argus, the son of Phrixus and Perimele, Admetus’ daughter, and lived in the region of Thessaly, in the land which men called after him Magnesia.  He had a son of remarkable beauty, Hymenaeus.  And when Apollo saw the boy, he was seized with love for him, and would not leave the house of Magnes.  Then Hermes made designs on Apollo’s herd of cattle which were grazing in the same place as the cattle of Admetus.  First he cast upon the dogs which were guarding them a stupor and strangles, so that the dogs forgot the cows and lost the power of barking.  Then he drove away twelve heifers and a hundred cows never yoked, and the bull who mounted the cows, fastening to the tail of each one brushwood to wipe out the footmarks of the cows.

He drove them through the country of the Pelasgi, and Achaea in the land of Phthia, and through Locris, and Boeotia and Megaris, and thence into Peloponnesus by way of Corinth and Larissa, until he brought them to Tegea.  From there he went on by the Lycaean mountains, and past Maenalus and what are called the watch-posts of Battus.  Now this Battus used to live on the top of the rock and when he heard the voice of the heifers as they were being driven past, he came out from his own place, and knew that the cattle were stolen.  So he asked for a reward to tell no one about them.  Hermes promised to give it him on these terms, and Battus swore to say nothing to anyone about the cattle.  But when Hermes had hidden them in the cliff by Coryphasium, and had driven them into a cave facing towards Italy and Sicily, he changed himself and came again to Battus and tried whether he would be true to him as he had vowed.  So, offering him a robe as a reward, he asked of him whether he had noticed stolen cattle being driven past.  And Battus took the robe and told him about the cattle.  But Hermes was angry because he was double-tongued, and struck him with his staff and changed him into a rock.  And either frost or heat never leaves him (4).


(1) When Heracles prayed that a son might be born to Telamon and
     Eriboea, Zeus sent forth an eagle in token that the prayer
     would be granted.  Heracles then bade the parents call their
     son Aias after the eagle (`aietos’).
(2) Oenomaus, king of Pisa in Elis, warned by an oracle that he
     should be killed by his son-in-law, offered his daughter
     Hippodamia to the man who could defeat him in a chariot
     race, on condition that the defeated suitors should be slain
     by him.  Ultimately Pelops, through the treachery of the
     charioteer of Oenomaus, became victorious.
(3) sc. to Scythia.
(4) In the Homeric “Hymn to Hermes” Battus almost disappears
     from the story, and a somewhat different account of the
     stealing of the cattle is given.

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