The Ceryneian Hind, Hercules(Heracles) Fourth labor

From the beginning, King Eurystheus had warned Heracles that his labors would become more complicated and dangerous. He also secretly hoped that Heracles wouldn’t be able to accomplish the tasks set out for him. After realizing that Heracles could overcome even the most ferocious beasts, King Eurystheus decided his next labor would be to capture the Ceryneian Hind and bring it back alive.

The Ceryneian Hind was not a beast like the Nemean Lion or the Hydra. It was a noble creature with iron feet and golden horns that could outrun an arrow. The sacred hind belonged to the goddess Artemis. King Eurystheus was aware of this yet he still imposed the labor, knowing that Heracles would be committing a sin against Artemis and she would seek retribution.

The hind was one of five that Artemis had captured as a child but it had run away to Mt. Cerynaea, which lay on the border of Achaea and Arcadia. The other four sacred hinds pulled Artemis’ chariot and were considered extremely valuable because of their swift speed. She was very proud and protective of them.

Heracles pursued the hind for more than a year throughout Greece and Thrace but it never seemed to tire. Some versions say that he even went so far as tracking the hind throughout Istria and the Hyperboreans. He had a lot of difficulty in capturing the hind. Firstly, the sacred creature would outrun him when it knew Heracles was approaching. Secondly, Heracles was supposed to capture it alive, without causing it any harm.

Heracles was finally able to capture the hind after it stopped to drink by the river Ladon. Fearful that the hind was about to escape again, Heracles shot the hind in the leg to slow it down. He purposefully did not use the arrows dipped in the Hydra blood so that its wound would heal.M

After capturing it, he put the hind on his shoulders and made his way back to Mycenae to King Eurystheus. Along the way he met Artemis and her twin brother Apollo. She was furious that Heracles had not only stolen her sacred hind, but had caused it harm. Heracles explained that it was part of his labor to King Eurystheus and promised to return it. She accepted his explanation and forgave him which disturbed Eurystheus’ plan to have Artemis punish Heracles.

When he delivered the hind to King Eurystheus, the King was shocked that he had managed to capture it without punishment from Artemis. King Eurystheus then declared he would keep the sacred hind as part of his collection of animals. Remembering his promise to Artemis, Heracles suggested that the King would have to retrieve the hind himself. Just as the King was about to take the hind, Heracles let it go. Heracles said that Eurystheus was too slow in his movements and that was the reason why the hind escaped.

The Labors

Will add details soon....

  1. The Nemean Lion
  2. The Hydra
  3. The Erymanthian Boar
  4. The Ceryneian Hind
  5. The Stymphalian Birds
  6. The Augean Stables
  7. The Cretan Bull
  8. The Horses of Diomedes
  9. The Amazon Girdle
  10. The Cattle of Geryon
  11. Cerberus
  12. The Apples of the Hesperides