Labor X: The Cattle of Geryoneus (page 402 lower, with art)

Chapter 13: Herakles

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Th 287-94 – Hesiod, Theogony

But Chrysaor was joined in love to Callirrhoe, the daughter of glorious Ocean, and begot three-headed Geryones. Him mighty Heracles slew in sea-girt Erythea by his shambling oxen on that day when he drove the wide-browed oxen to holy Tiryns, and had crossed the ford of Ocean and killed Orthus and Eurytion the herdsman in the dim stead out beyond glorious OceanGreek Text

Th 981-83 – Hesiod, Theogony

Callirrhoe was joined in the love of rich Aphrodite with stout-hearted Chrysaor and bore a son who was the strongest of all men, Geryones, whom mighty Heracles killed in sea-girt Erythea for the sake of his shambling oxen.  Greek Text

London, British Museum A487: Protocorinthian pyxis with, on front side, Herakles shooting arrows at Geryoneus (with four legs and three conjoined torsos?); a lion with paws is behind Herakles, and three cattle with hooves are behind Geryoneus; on back side, four lions and one cow 



Three images (top being a composite photo) from British Museum

Digital LIMC

Samos, Vathy Museum B2518: bronze horse’s pectoral with Herakles and Geryoneus; on left, five cattle of Geryoneus; in center, Herakles in lionskin and quiver attacks Geryoneus with sword; Geryoneus, with one pair of legs and three heads, one of which collapses on the right; on ground behind Geryoneus, his two-headed dog Orthos, with one head struck by Herakles’ arrow; on right, collapsed herdsman Eurytion, who has been struck by Herakles’ arrow 

D.H. Burton, “The Search for Immortality in Archaic Greek Myth” (Ph.D. University of London, 1996) fig. 27






Whole view and details from K. Tsakos and M. Viglaki-Sofianou, Samos: The Archaeological Museums (2012)

Digital LIMC

Olympia, Archaeological Museum B1975: bronze shield-band relief with Herakles in lionskin attackng Geryoneus with a sword; Geryoneus has three full bodies with legs but with waists hidden behind shields of two fighting bodies, while third torso of third body collapses to the right 


E. Kunze, Archaische Schildbänder. Olympische Forschungen 2 (1950) pl. 30

Digital LIMC (with wrong photo)

Delphi, Museum 4479: bronze shield-band relief with Herakles attacking Geryoneus with a sword; Geryoneus has three full bodies, of which the torso of one, shown on the right, collapses


P. Perdrizet, Fouilles de Delphes (Band 5): Monuments figurés: Petits bronzes, terres-cuites, antiquités diverses (1908), pl. 21

Digital LIMC

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#Herakles, #Geryoneus, #cattle

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

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

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