Labor IX: The Belt of Hippolyte (page 399, with art)

Chapter 13: Herakles

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Euripides, Herakleidai 215-17

It is my claim that as right-hand man to Heracles I once sailed with Theseus to fetch the girdle, cause of many deaths, <belonging to Hippolyta.> Greek Text

Lykophron, Alexandra 1329-31

he [Theseus] went with the wild beast, the Initiate, who drew the milky breast of the hostile goddess Tropaea, and stole the belt and roused a double feud, taking away the girdle and from Themiscyra carrying off the archer Orthosia. Greek Text

Scholia to Lykophron, Alexandra 1329 – Lykophronis Alexandra 2, p. 374, ed E. Scheer. Berlin 1908

Greek Text

Naples, Museo Nazionale 3241: shoulder of Lucanian red-figure hydria with, in center, Amazon (Hippolyte?) giving belt to seated Herakles, who has a club and quiver; on left, three more Amazons; on right, two Greek warriors

F. Inghirami, Pitture di vasi fittili vol. 1 (1835), pl. 98

Digital LIMC

Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautika 2.966-69

Here once when Melanippe, daughter of Ares, had, gone forth, the hero Heracles caught her by ambuscade and Hippolyte gave him her glistening girdle as her sister’s ransom, and he sent away his captive unharmed. Greek Text

Diodoros Siculus, Library of History 4.16.1

Heracles then received a Command to bring back the girdle of Hippolytê the Amazon and so made the expedition against the Amazons. Accordingly he sailed into the Pontus, which was named by him Euxeinus, and continuing to the mouth of the Thermodon River he encamped near the city of Themiscyra, in which was situated the palace of the Amazons. And first of all he demanded of them the girdle which he had been commanded to get; but when they would pay no heed to him, he joined battle with them…..

The commander of the Amazons, Melanippê, who was also greatly admired for her manly courage, now lost her supremacy. And Heracles, after thus killing the most renowned of the Amazons, and forcing the remaining multitude to turn in flight, cut down the greater number of them, so that the race of them was utterly exterminated. As for the captives, he gave Antiopê as a gift to Theseus and set Melanippê free, accepting her girdle as her ransom.  Greek Text

Hyginus, Fabulae 30

[He slew] Hippolyte, daughter of Mars and Queen Otrera, and took from her the belt of the Amazon Queen; then he presented Antiopa as captive to Theseus. Latin Text

ApB 2.5.9 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

The ninth labour he enjoined on Hercules was to bring the belt of Hippolyte. She was queen of the Amazons, who dwelt about the river Thermodon, a people great in war; for they cultivated the manly virtues, and if ever they gave birth to children through intercourse with the other sex, they reared the females; and they pinched off the right breasts that they might not be trammelled by them in throwing the javelin, but they kept the left breasts, that they might suckle. Now Hippolyte had the belt of Ares in token of her superiority to all the rest. Hercules was sent to fetch this belt because Admete, daughter of Eurystheus, desired to get it. So taking with him a band of volunteer comrades in a single ship he set sail and put in to the island of Paros, which was inhabited by the sons of Minos, to wit, Eurymedon, Chryses, Nephalion, and Philolaus. But it chanced that two of those in the ship landed and were killed by the sons of Minos. Indignant at this, Hercules killed the sons of Minos on the spot and besieged the rest closely, till they sent envoys to request that in the room of the murdered men he would take two, whom he pleased. So he raised the siege, and taking on board the sons of Androgeus, son of Minos, to wit, Alcaeus and Sthenelus, he came to Mysia, to the court of Lycus, son of Dascylus, and was entertained by him; and in a battle between him and the king of the Bebryces Hercules sided with Lycus and slew many, amongst others King Mygdon, brother of Amycus. And he took much land from the Bebryces and gave it to Lycus, who called it all Heraclea.

Having put in at the harbor of Themiscyra, he received a visit from Hippolyte, who inquired why he was come, and promised to give him the belt. But Hera in the likeness of an Amazon went up and down the multitude saying that the strangers who had arrived were carrying off the queen. So the Amazons in arms charged on horseback down on the ship. But when Hercules saw them in arms, he suspected treachery, and killing Hippolyte stripped her of her belt. Greek Text

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#Herakles, #Amazones, #Hippolyte

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

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, January 2021

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