The Erymanthian Boar, Heracles (Hercules) Third labor

King Eurystheus was angry that Heracles had succeeded in catching a creature that was seemingly impossible to capture. The Greek hero was proving to not only be physically strong, but also clever and skillful at entrapment. To put Heracles to the ultimate test, King Eurystheus declared that his next labor was to catch the monstrous boar that wandered Mount Erymanthus in Arcadia and bring it back alive. Unlike the hind, the boar was not a noble creature and had a vicious nature. With its monstrous tusks, it would come down from its lair in the high forest region and attack villagers. It would also destroy livestock and crops.

Before he started tracking the boar, Heracles stopped by the cavern of Pholus, the son of Silenus, who lived near Mount Erymanthus. Pholus was a centaur, half man and half horse, and was pleased to welcome Heracles before he began his boar hunt. Knowing that Heracles was hungry, he gave him some cooked meat and prepared a raw piece for himself. However Heracles was also very thirsty and asked Pholus if there was any wine he could drink. Pholus did have some wine, but it was a gift from Dionysus, the God of wine and fertility. The wine belonged to all the centaurs that lived on the mountain and it wasn’t to be opened without their consent and not for another four centuries.

Heracles insisted and Pholus didn’t want to appear inhospitable so he reluctantly opened up the wine. The other centaurs caught its scent and branding clubs and stones, rushed to Pholus’ cavern to see who had opened their sacred gift. Upon seeing Heracles, they began to viciously attack him.

Heracles took out his bow and started shooting his poisonous arrows at the mob. They quickly fled but he soon followed after them. In the meantime Pholus was intrigued at how a single arrow could cause such fatalities and pulled one out of a dead centaur to examine it. The deadly arrow, tipped with Hydra blood, slipped and accidently pierced his foot. Pholus died immediately. Devastated at this misfortune, Heracles buried him at the bottom of Mount Erymanthus. With his heart full of guilt and remorse, he continued on his hunt for the boar with a newfound vengeance and anger.

He managed to lure it out of the thick forest with deep cries, before chasing the boar into a snowfield where it collapsed from exhaustion. He trapped it with a net, then bound its feet and propped it over his shoulder to carry back to Mycenae. King Eurystheus had not expected Heracles to complete the labor and was completely terrified when he saw the live boar, snorting and squealing wildly. He quickly fled and hid in a half buried bronze pithos, which was akin to a giant storage jar. He demanded that Heracles get rid of the boar before he dared to step out.

Disgruntled, Heracles left the palace and took the boar with him. He couldn’t understand why the King would set the task of bringing back the boar alive if he was afraid of it. It would have been easier to kill the boar and it could have prevented Pholus’ death.

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