136. Hercules and the Stymphalian Birds

Once upon a time, King Eurystheus of Mycenae and Tiryns, commanded a labor to Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, to drive off the innumerable birds from the lake Stymphalis, at Stymphalos in Arcadia.

The countless Stymphalian birds, ruined the fruits of the surrounding area and were described, in various ways. Some said the birds were the size of a crane and originated from the Arabian desert. Some said they were man-eating birds and like arrows, could shoot their feathers from their wings. Some said their strong beaks could penetrate any iron or bronze armor, except armor made of thick cork, where their beaks got stuck.

When Hercules reached the lake Stymphalis, he saw a massive number of birds swimming on the calm waters. With his bow and arrow, Hercules tried to drive the birds away. But the birds were so great in number that only by the use of his arrows, he was unable, to drive all of them away. Hercules failed to find a solution and at that time, Athena helped him by giving bronze noise-makers fashioned by Hephaistos. Along with those noise-makers, Hercules climbed a mountain adjoining the lake, and from that height, he started to clang the bronze noise-makers, which created an extremely noisy ruckus.

The loud noise coming from the adjacent mountain, frightened some birds and they flew away. Observing that the sound astounded the birds and made them fly away, Hercules continued to shake the noise-makers, vigorously with increasing loudness. Few more birds succumbed to the fear of the strange noise and hastily flew away.
Gaining a minor victory, Hercules decided not to stop ringing the noise-makers, until all the birds flew away; and thereby, gain a complete victory. Thus, without ending, he incessantly shook the noise-makers. The ceaseless din of the noise-makers, finally made the birds screech with fear, and leaving the lake, all the birds flew away.

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

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