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Hamilton Wright Mabie
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 308 pages of information about Heroes Every Child Should Know.

Then he went home to Argos, and reigned there well with fair Andromeda.  But the will of the gods was accomplished towards Acrisius, his grandfather, for he died from the falling of a quoit which Perseus had thrown in a game.

Perseus and Andromeda had four sons and three daughters, and died in a good old age.  And when they died, the ancients say, Athene took them up into the sky, with Cepheus and Cassiopoeia.  And there on starlight nights you may see them shining still; Cepheus with his kingly crown, and Cassiopoeia in her ivory chair, plaiting her star-spangled tresses, and Perseus with the Gorgon’s head, and fair Andromeda beside him, spreading her long white arms across the heavens, as she stood when chained to the stone for the monster.  All night long they shine, for a beacon to wandering sailors; but all day they feast with the gods, on the still blue peaks of Olympus.

CHAPTER II

HERCULES

Many, many years ago in the far-off land of Hellas, which we call Greece, lived a happy young couple whose names were Alcmene and Amphitryon.  Now Amphitryon, the husband, owned many herds of cattle.  So also the father of Alcmene, who was King of Mycenae, owned many.

All these cattle grazing together and watering at the same springs became united in one herd.  And this was the cause of much trouble, for Amphitryon fell to quarreling with the father of his wife about his portion of the herd.  At last he slew his father-in-law, and from that day he fled his old home at Mycenae.

Alcmene went with her husband and the young couple settled at Thebes, where were born to them two boys—­twins—­which were later named Hercules and Iphicles.

From the child’s very birth Zeus, the King of all heaven that is the air and clouds, and the father of gods and men—­from the boy’s very birth Zeus loved Hercules.  But when Hera, wife of Zeus, who shared his honours, saw this love she was angry.  Especially she was angry because Zeus foretold that Hercules should become the greatest of men.

Therefore one night, when the two babies were but eight months old, Hera sent two huge serpents to destroy them.  The children were asleep in the great shield of brass which Amphitryon carried in battle for his defence.  It was a good bed, for it was round and curved toward the centre, and filled with soft blankets which Alcmene and the maids of the house had woven at their looms.  Forward toward this shield the huge snakes were creeping, and just as they lifted their open mouths above the rim, and were making ready to seize them, the twins opened their eyes.  Iphicles screamed with fright.  His cries wakened their mother, Alcmene, who called in a loud voice for help.  But before Amphitryon and the men of the household could draw their swords and rush to the rescue, the baby Hercules, sitting up in the shield unterrified and seizing a serpent in each hand, had choked and strangled them till they died.

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