140. Hercules and the Cattle of Geryon

Once upon a time, King Eurystheus of Mycenae and Tiryns, commanded a labor to Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, to bring the cattle belonging to Geryon, son of Khrysaor and Kallirrhoe, and who lived on the isle of Erytheia near Okeanos.

Geryon was a three-bodied man, possessing three bodies fused at the belly into one. Thus, upwards of the single belly, he had three chests, six arms and three heads; while downwards of the single belly, he had three hips and six legs. Geryon’s cattle were crimson-colored, tended by Eurytion, and protected by Orthos, a two-headed hound born of Typhon and Ekhidna. The cattle grazed along with the cattle of Haides tended by Menoetes.

Hercules proceeded on his journey and being annoyed by the hot rays of the sun, aimed his stretched bow at the god Helios. The god was surprised but considering it as a daring act, gave Hercules a large golden goblet, in which Hercules sailed across Okeanos and reached Erytheia.

At Erytheia, the hound Orthos attacked Hercules, who clubbed the hound to death and slew the giant Eurytion. Menoetes who was tending the cattle of Haides, ran to Geryon and reported the events. Geryon, armed with three spears and three shields in his six hands, met Hercules by the Athemos river. Hercules threw a stone at a head of Geryon and the plumed helmet fell off, exposing one head of Geryon. Taking out an arrow previously poisoned with the gall and blood of Hydra, Hercules silently thrust it cunningly into the exposed brow of Geryon. The arrow smoothly dug right through the flesh, bones and came out from the crown of Geryon’s head, killing Geryon instantly.

Thereafter, Hercules loaded the cattle on the golden goblet and sailed to Tartessos, where he returned the golden goblet to Helios. After many adventures on the way, Hercules returned to Mycenae and presented the cattle to Eurystheus, who sacrificed them to Hera.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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