Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/37

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Lines 208—247]
17
HERCULES FURENS.

ment? The two crested snakes darted at the infant's cradle, but that infant strangled them as they advanced; he had actually conquered those monsters, before he had arrived at the years of knowledge—he regarded their fiery eyes with a placid and careless gaze, bore their encircling pressure with a serene countenance and, seizing their swelling poison-charged throats with his tender infantile hands, he squeezed out their lives! Thus, as a prelude to his victory over the Hydra, he commenced is conquering career with the serpents! The swift stag of Mænalus, with his head rendered glaring with his large golden horns, was arrested in his flight by Hercules. That great terror of the forests, the Nemæan Lion, groaned aloud when pressed by the brawny arms of Hercules! What shall I say of those terrible horses of the Thracian King Diomedes or of that very king, who was delivered over for destruction to the voracity of his own cattle? Or the bristled Mænalian Boar, which ravaged the summits of Erymanthus, and was wont to cause the Arcadian Groves to quake again with his presence? Or of the Bull of Crete which was the great terror of a hundred communities and was actually brought alive into Peloponnesus; how amongst the distant flocks of the Hesperian confines, their shepherd, the three-bodied monster Geryon was slain by Hercules, and his flocks seized as spoil from the extreme West, where Cithæron subsequently fed those well-known herds near the territories of Oceanus? Hercules was commanded to penetrate countries, visited by the dreadful summer sun,—the kingdoms, where everything was absolutely burnt up, whilst the mid-day prevailed. All obstacles being broken down he actually divided mountains on both sides, and opened up a broad road for the in-rushing Ocean! After all these exploits, he gained access to the territories of the gold-laden grove (Garden of the Hesperides) and seized upon the golden spoils (apples) guarded by a watchful serpent! (one that never slept). What next? Did he not conquer by casting it into the flames, the monstrous Hydra of Lerna, that remarkable object of dread, and demonstrated that it, even, could be made to die! He then seeks out, from the clouds themselves, those noisome Stymphalidæ which were wont with their expanded wings to darken the very sky around! Nor was the Virgin Queen of the Thermodon race with her entire army of celibate women-soldiers equal to him in the contest! Nor did he deem it all an ignominious task, when, with his brave and able hands, he cleansed the stables of Augeus! But what do all these exploits now avail him? He is now with no city to defend. And the lands which have acknowledged him