Theban Exploits (page 379, with art)

Chapter 13: Herakles

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Munich, Antikensammlung 2646: Attic red-figure cup by Douris, with  Herakles attacking his music teacher Linos with a leg of a stool; Linos collapses while holding up lyre; four students flee in terror



A. Furtwaengler and K. Reichhold, Griechische Vasenmalerei: Auswahl hervorragender Vasenbilder (Serie II, 1909) pl. 105


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Digital LIMC

 20 fr 26 Sn – Achaios, LinosTragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 1, pp. 122-23. Gottingen 1971.

DS 3.67.2 – Diodoros Siculus, Library of History

Linus also, who was admired because of his poetry and singing, had many pupils and three of greatest renown, Heracles, Thamyras, and Orpheus. Of these three Heracles, who was learning to play the lyre, was unable to appreciate what was taught him because of his sluggishness of soul, and once when he had been punished with rods by Linus he became violently angry and killed his teacher with a blow of the lyre.  Greek Text

ApB 2.4.9 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Hercules was taught to drive a chariot by Amphitryon, to wrestle by Autolycus, to shoot with the bow by Eurytus, to fence by Castor, and to play the lyre by Linus. This Linus was a brother of Orpheus; he came to Thebes and became a Theban, but was killed by Hercules with a blow of the lyre; for being struck by him, Hercules flew into a rage and slew him. Greek Text

Paus 9.29.9 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

Other tales are told by the Thebans, how that later than this Linus there was born another, called the son of Ismenius, a teacher of music, and how Heracles, while still a child, killed him. Greek Text

Munich, Antikensammlungen 1707: Attic black-figure hydria with Herakles seated in center, playing kithara for gods; on left, Dionysos, and on right, Hermes and seated Athena


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Digital LIMC

ApB 1.4.9-10 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Hercules was taught to drive a chariot by Amphitryon, to wrestle by Autolycus, to shoot with the bow by Eurytus, to fence by Castor, and to play the lyre by Linus. This Linus was a brother of Orpheus; he came to Thebes and became a Theban, but was killed by Hercules with a blow of the lyre; for being struck by him, Hercules flew into a rage and slew him. When he was tried for murder, Hercules quoted a law of Rhadamanthys, who laid it down that whoever defends himself against a wrongful aggressor shall go free, and so he was acquitted. Greek Text

Herodoros 31F20 FGrH Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, p. 219, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Now, as Herodoros says, in seven days Herakles deflowered the fifty daughters of Thestios. (Tranl. E. Bianchelli)  Greek Text

Paus 9.27.6-7 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

Heracles, they say, had intercourse with the fifty daughters of Thestius, except one, in a single night. She was the only one who refused to have connection with him. Heracles, thinking that he had been insulted, condemned her to remain a virgin all her life, serving him as his priest.

I have heard another story, how Heracles had connection with all the virgin daughters of Thestius in one and the same night, and how they all bore him sons, the youngest and the eldest bearing twins. Greek Text

DS 4.29.2-3 – Diodoros Siculus, Library of History

Thespius was by birth a distinguished man of Athens and son of Erechtheus, and he was king of the land which bears his name and begot by his wives, of whom he had a great number, fifty daughters. And when Heracles was still a boy, but already of extraordinary strength of body, the king strongly desired that his daughters should bear children by him. Consequently he invited Heracles to a sacrifice, and after entertaining him in brilliant fashion he sent his daughters one by one in to him; and Heracles lay with them all, brought them all with child, and so became the father of fifty sons. These sons all took the same name after the daughters of Thespius, and when they had arrived at manhood Heracles decided to send them to Sardinia to found a colony, as the oracle had commanded. Greek Text

Peisandros, fr 1 PEG Poetae Epici Graeci 1, p. 167, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987.

 Pa 8.102-4 – Pindar, Paian Odes Pindarus 2, p. 43, ed. B. Snell and H. Maehler. Leipzig 1975.

HF 48-50 – Euripides, Herakles Mainomenos (Hercules Furens)

here at the altar of Zeus the Savior, which my own gallant child set up to commemorate his glorious victory over the Minyae. Greek Text

HF 220-21 – Euripides, Herakles Mainomenos (Hercules Furens)

[Heracles] the man who faced alone all the Minyans in battle and allowed Thebes to see the light with free eyes. Greek Text

 14.Plataikos 10 –  Isokrates, Speeches

they ought not to be ruling over our other cities, but far rather to be paying tribute to the Orchomenians; for such was the case in ancient times. Greek Text

Paus 9.37.1-3 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

But it was destined for the race of Almus too to come to an end. For Orchomenus left no child, and so the kingdom devolved on Clymenus, son of Presbon, son of Phrixus. Sons were born to Clymenus; the eldest was Erginus, the next after him were Stratius, Arrhon and Pyleus, while the youngest was Azeus. Clymenus was murdered at the feast of Onchestian Poseidon by men of Thebes, whom a trivial cause had thrown into a violent passion. So Erginus, the eldest of the sons of Glymenus, received the kingdom.

Immediately he and his brothers gathered a force and attacked Thebes. Victorious in the battle, they then came to an agreement that the Thebans should pay tribute each year for the murder of Clymenus. But when Heracles had grown to manhood in Thebes, the Thebans were thus relieved of the tribute, and the Minyans suffered a grievous defeat in the war.

Erginus, as his citizens had been utterly crushed, made peace with Heracles, but in his efforts to restore his former wealth and prosperity neglected everything else, so that unconsciously he came to a wifeless and childless old age. But when he had gathered riches, the desire seized him to have children. Greek Text

ApB 2.4.11 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

As he was returning from the hunt, there met him heralds sent by Erginus to receive the tribute from the Thebans. Now the Thebans paid tribute to Erginus for the following reason. Clymenus, king of the Minyans, was wounded with a cast of a stone by a charioteer of Menoeceus, named Perieres, in a precinct of Poseidon at Onchestus; and being carried dying to Orchomenus, he with his last breath charged his son Erginus to avenge his death. So Erginus marched against Thebes, and after slaughtering not a few of the Thebans he concluded a treaty with them, confirmed by oaths, that they should send him tribute for twenty years, a hundred kine every year. Falling in with the heralds on their way to Thebes to demand this tribute, Hercules outraged them; for he cut off their ears and noses and hands, and having fastened them by ropes from their necks, he told them to carry that tribute to Erginus and the Minyans. Indignant at this outrage, Erginus marched against Thebes. But Hercules, having received weapons from Athena and taken the command, killed Erginus, put the Minyans to flight, and compelled them to pay double the tribute to the Thebans. And it chanced that in the fight Amphitryon fell fighting bravely. And Hercules received from Creon his eldest daughter Megara as a prize of valor, and by her he had three sons, Therimachus, Creontiades, and Deicoon. But Creon gave his younger daughter to Iphicles, who already had a son Iolaus by Automedusa, daughter of Alcathus. And Rhadamanthys, son of Zeus, married Alcmena after the death of Amphitryon, and dwelt as an exile at Ocaleae in Boeotia. Greek Text

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Artistic sources edited by  Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, March 2023

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, December 2020

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