♠ Euripides, Alkestis 481-98
I am performing a certain labor for Eurystheus, king of Tiryns.
Where are you bound? What is the wandering you are constrained to make?
I go in quest of the four-horse chariot of Thracian Diomedes.
How can you do that? Do you not know what kind of host he is?
I do not. I have never yet been to Bistonia.
You cannot possess those horses without a fight.
But all the same, I cannot decline these labors.
Then you will either kill him and return or end your days there.
This is not the first such race I shall have run.
If you defeat their master, what will it profit you?
I will bring the horses back to the lord of Tiryns.
You will not find it easy to put a bit in their mouths.
Surely so, unless they breathe fire from their nostrils.
No, but they tear men apart with their nimble jaws.
This is fodder for mountain beasts, not horses.
You will see their feeding-troughs drenched with blood.
Whose son does their master claim to be?
Ares’ son, and shield-bearing lord of Thrace rich in gold. Greek Text
♠ Euripides, Herakles Mainomenos (Hercules Furens) 380-86
Next he mounted on a chariot and tamed with the bit the horses of Diomedes, that greedily champed their bloody food at gory mangers with unbridled jaws, devouring with hideous joy the flesh of men; then crossing the heights of Hebrus that flow with silver, he still toiled on for the tyrant of Mycenae. Greek Text
♠ Hellanikos 4F105 – Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, p. 134, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.
♠ Diodoros Siculus 4.15.3-4
The next Labour which Heracles undertook was the bringing back of the horses of Diomedes, the Thracian. The feeding-troughs of these horses were of brass because the steeds were so savage, and they were fastened by iron chains because of their strength, and the food they ate was not the natural produce of the soil but they tore apart the limbs of strangers and so got their food from the ill lot of hapless men. Heracles, in order to control them, threw to them their master Diomedes, and when he had satisfied the hunger of the animals by means of the flesh of the man who had taught them to violate human law in this fashion, he had them under his control. And when the horses were brought to Eurystheus he consecrated them to Hera, and in fact their breed continued down to the reign of Alexander of Macedon.
When this Labour was finished Heracles sailed forth with Jason as a member of the expedition to the Colchi to get the golden fleece. But we shall give a detailed account of these matters in connection with the expedition of the Argonauts. Greek Text
♠ ApB 2.5.8 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)
The eighth labour he enjoined on him was to bring the mares of Diomedes the Thracian to Mycenae. Now this Diomedes was a son of Ares and Cyrene, and he was king of the Bistones, a very warlike Thracian people, and he owned man-eating mares. So Hercules sailed with a band of volunteers, and having overpowered the grooms who were in charge of the mangers, he drove the mares to the sea. When the Bistones in arms came to the rescue, he committed the mares to the guardianship of Abderus, who was a son of Hermes, a native of Opus in Locris, and a minion of Hercules; but the mares killed him by dragging him after them. But Hercules fought against the Bistones, slew Diomedes and compelled the rest to flee. And he founded a city Abdera beside the grave of Abderus who had been done to death, and bringing the mares he gave them to Eurystheus. But Eurystheus let them go, and they came to Mount Olympus, as it is called, and there they were destroyed by the wild beasts. Greek Text
♠ Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.196
And when I saw the steeds of Thrace, so fat
with human blood, and their vile mangers heaped
with mangled bodies, in a righteous rage
I threw them to the ground, and slaughtered them,
together with their master! Latin Text
♠ Hyginus, Fabulae 30
Diomedes, King of Thrace, and his four horses which fed on human flesh he killed along with the slave Abderus. Latin Text
Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, January 2021
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