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The Third Labor of Heracles - The Hind of Ceryneia
For the third labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the
Hind of Ceryneia. Now, before we go any further, we'll have to answer two questions:
What is a hind? and, Where is Ceryneia?
Ceryneia is a town in Greece, about fifty miles from Eurystheus' palace in Mycenae.
A hind is simply a female red deer.
You'd think it would have been easy for a hero like Hercules to go
shoot a deer and bring it back to Eurystheus, but a few problems made things complicated.
This was a special deer, because it had golden horns and hoofs of bronze. Not
only that, the deer was sacred to the goddess of hunting and the moon, Diana;
she was Diana's special pet. That meant that Hercules could neither kill the deer
nor hurt her. He couldn't risk getting Diana angry at him; he was already in enough
trouble with Hera.
Hercules set out on this adventure, and he hunted the deer for a whole
year. At last, when the deer had become weary with the chase, she looked for a
place to rest on a mountain called Artemisius, and then made her way to the river
Ladon. Realizing that the deer was about to get away, Hercules shot her just as
she was about to cross the stream. He caught the deer, put her on his shoulders
and turned back to Mycenae. As Hercules hurried on his way, he was met by Diana
Diana was very angry because Hercules tried to kill her sacred animal.
She was about to take the deer away from Hercules, and surely she would have punished
him, but Hercules told her the truth. He said that he had to obey the oracle and
do the labors Eurystheus had given him. Diana let go of her anger and healed the
deer's wound. Hercules carried it alive to Mycenae.
This text is cited July 2004 from
Perseus Project URL bellow, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Heracles. 3. The stag of Ceryneia in Arcadia. This animal hand golden
antlers and brazen feet. It had been dedicated to Artemis by the nymph Taygete,
because the goddess had saved her from the pursuit of Zeus. Heracles was ordered
to bring the animal alive to Mycenae. He pursued it in vain for a whole year:
at length it fled from Oenoe to mount Artemisium in Argolis, and thence to the
river Ladon in Arcadia. Heracles wounded it with an arrow, caught it, and carried
it away on his shoulders. While yet in Arcadia, he was met by Apollo and Artemis,
who were angry with him for having outraged the animal sacred to Artemis; but
Heracles succeeded in soothing their anger, and carried his prey to Mycenae. According
to some statements, he killed the stag. (Apollod. ii. 5.3; Diod iv. 13; Callim.
Hymn. in Dian. 100, &c.; Ov. Met. ix. 188; Virg. Aen. vi. 803; Pind. Ol. iii.
24, 53; Eurip. Herc. Fur. 378.)
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Cerynitian hind: Perseus Encyclopedia
- The Hind of Ceryneia, as told by Apollodorus
- Theoi Project, a guide to Greek Goods, Spirits & Monsters
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