Labors of Hercules
Kudos (Greek!) to Hercules for thinking outside the ampitheatre on
this one by cauterizing the neck wounds of this serpentish creature,
thus keeping two heads from growing where before there had been only the one,
but it seems to me there was another way out. If he had just kept chopping,
eventually the creature would have had a hundred thousand heads, making
it look something like venomous reptilian broccoli. Then it would have
tipped over and been no threat to anyone. People could come up and
laugh at it, it would have been a great tourist attraction. B
The Stymphalian Birds
This labor doesn't get much press, because driving away a huge flock
of birds lacks a certain legendary quality. One is put in the mind of
toddlers merrily wading through pigeons. Not only that, but the turning
point in this labor involves magical castanets. Hercules plays the magical
castanets, the birds start to fly in terror, Hercules shoots them down.
Pretty lame. D
The Apples of the Hesperides
The good bit in this one is not the Apples themselves, but
Hercules' little foray into vaudeville. For reasons not entirely clear,
Hercules asked Atlas, of holding-up-the-world fame, to go fetch the Apples
while he, Hercules, handled the world-supporting duties for a while.
Upon returning, Atlas quite sensibly decided he didn't want his old job
back after all. So Herc pretends to be fine with this, and asks Atlas
to hold up the world for just a sec while he goes to get some
fluffy pillows. Atlas obliges and Herc grabs the Apples and splits.
The Nemean Lion
Now this is a great labor. The deal with the lion is that its hide
couldn't be pierced by spears or arrows, which were only two real choices
of armament at that point in history. So Hercules strolls in and chokes
the beast to death with his bare hands! Then he skins it!
Then he wears the skin as a nifty little cloak-and-hat number!
Then he does the happy lion mambo! That last one is pure
supposition, but it's what I would have done. A
The Mares of Diomedes
This isn't that interesting of a Labor, but the monsters in question are
interesting. They're man-eating mares. You have to respect man-eating
horses, because they really have to work at it. Your man-eating tigers
and pumas are set up with the slashing teeth and the knife-like claws
and so forth, which are to man-eating as a Cuisinart is to
coleslaw. Man-eating mares, on the other hand, have to pummel their
prey to death with hooves, then chew on the flesh with that thoughtful
grinding motion horses have, both of which are much less efficient. I
admire their dedication to the craft of man-eating. B-
More next week...