Antaios, Bousiris, Emathion (page 417, with art)

Chapter 13: Herakles

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Olympia Museum shield band relief B 984.  Herakles and Antaios.

Kunze, Archaiische Schildbaender

Rome, Tomb of the Nasoni fresco.  Herakles and Antaios.



Is 4.52-55 – Pindar, Isthmian Odes

This hero went to the house of Antaeus in grain-bearing Libya, to keep him from roofing Poseidon’s temple with the skulls of strangers, [55] Alcmena’s sonGreek text

Pherekydes 3F76 FGrH Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, pp. 80-81, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Greek Text

Pherekydes 3F17 FGrH Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1, pp. 65-66 ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Greek Text

9 Aristias fr 1 Sn Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 1, p. 85, ed. B. Snell. Gottingen 1971

DS 4.17.4 – Diodoros Siculus, Library of History

Setting sail, then, from Crete, Heracles put in at Libya, and first of all he challenged to a fight Antaeus,​ whose fame was noised abroad because of his strength of body and his skill in wrestling, and because he was wont to put to death all strangers whom he had defeated in wrestling, and grappling with him Heracles slew the giant.  Greek Text

DS 4.27.3 – Diodoros Siculus, Library of History

About this time Heracles, while engaged in the performance of his last Labour, slew in Libya Antaeus, who was compelling all strangers to wrestle with him, and upon Busiris in Egypt, who was sacrificing to Zeus the strangers who visited his country, he inflicted the punishment which he deserved.  Greek Text

Ovid, Ibis 393-95

as the wrestler died, thrown by the Boetian stranger,

his conqueror astonished that he had died:

or the strong men crushed in that Antaeus’s arms  Latin Text

Met 9.183-84 – Ovid, Metamorphoses

Was it for this I slew Busiris, who
defiled his temples with the strangers’ blood?
For this I took his mother’s strength from fierce
Antaeus  Latin Text

Lucan, Pharsalia 4.593-653

‘Not yet exhausted by the giant brood,
‘Earth still another monster brought to birth,
‘In Libya‘s caverns: huger far was he,
‘More justly far her pride, than Briareus
With all his hundred hands, or Typhon fierce,
Or Tityos: ’twas in mercy to the gods
‘That not in Phlegra’s fields Antaeus grew,
‘But here in Libya; to her offspring’s strength,
‘Unmeasured, vast, she added yet this boon,
‘That when in weariness and labour spent
‘He touched his parent, fresh from her embrace
‘Renewed in vigour he should rise again.
‘In yonder cave he dwelt, ‘neath yonder rock
‘He made his feast on lions slain in chase:
‘There slept he; not on skins of beasts, or leaves,
‘But fed his strength upon the naked earth.
Perished the Libyan hinds and those who came,
‘Brought here in ships, until he scorned at length
‘The earth that gave him strength, and on his feet
‘Invincible and with unaided might
‘Made all his victims. Last to Afric shores,
‘ Drawn by the rumour of such carnage, came
‘ Magnanimous Alcides, he who freed
‘Both land and sea of monsters. Down on earth
‘He threw his mantle of the lion’s skin
‘ Slain in Cleone; nor Antaeus less
‘Cast down the hide he wore. With shining oil,
‘As one who wrestles at Olympia‘s feast,
‘The hero rubbed his limbs: the giant feared
‘ Lest standing only on his parent earth
‘His strength might fail; and cast o’er all his bulk
‘ Hot sand in handfuls. Thus with arms entwined
‘And grappling hands each seizes on his foe;
‘With hardened muscles straining at the neck
‘Long time in vain; for firm the sinewy throat
‘ Stood column-like, nor yielded; so that each
‘ Wondered to find his peer. Nor at the first
‘Divine Alcides put forth all his strength,
‘ By lengthy struggle wearing out his foe,
‘Till chilly drops stood on Antaeus’ limbs,
‘And toppled to its fall the stately throat,
‘And smitten by the hero’s blows, the legs
‘ Began to totter. Breast to breast they strive
‘To gain the vantage, till the victor’s arms
‘Gird in the giant’s yielding back and sides,
‘And squeeze his middle part: next ‘twixt the thighs
‘ He puts his feet, and forcing them apart,
‘Lays low the mighty monster limb by limb.
‘The dry earth drank his sweat, while in his veins
‘Warm ran the life-blood, and with strength refreshed,
‘The muscles swelled and all the joints grew firm,
‘And with his might restored, he breaks his bonds
‘And rives the arms of Hercules away.
‘Amazed the hero stood at such a strength.
‘Not thus he feared, though then unused to war,
‘That hydra fierce which, smitten in the marsh
‘Of Inachus, renewed its severed heads.
‘They fought as peers, the giant with the powers
‘Which earth bestowed, the hero with his own:
‘ Nor did the hatred of his step-dame find
‘In all his conflicts greater room for hope.
‘ She sees bedewed in sweat the neck and limbs
‘Which once had borne the burden of the heavens
‘ Nor knew the toil: and when Antaeus felt
‘ His foeman’s arms close round him once again,
‘ He flung his wearying limbs upon the sand
‘ To rise with strength renewed; all that the earth,
‘Though labouring sore, could breathe into her son
‘She gave his frame. But Hercules at last
‘ Saw how his parent gave the giant strength.
‘” Stand thou,” he cried; “no more upon the ground
‘ “Thou liest at thy will-here must thou stay
‘” Within mine arms constrained; against this breast,
‘” Antaeus, shalt thou fall.” He lifted up
‘ And held by middle girth the giant form,
‘Still struggling for the soil: but she no more
‘Could give her offspring vigour. Slowly came
‘The chill of death upon him, and ’twas long
‘Before the hero, of his victory sure,
‘Trusted the earth and laid the giant down.  Latin Text

St: Theb 6.893-96 – Statius, Thebais

Latin Text and English Translation

Juvenal, Satires 3.88-89

Latin Text

ApB 2.5.11 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Being informed, he traversed Libya. That country was then ruled by Antaeus, son of Poseidon, who used to kill strangers by forcing them to wrestle. Being forced to wrestle with him, Hercules hugged him, lifted him aloft, broke and killed him; for when he touched earth so it was that he waxed stronger, wherefore some said that he was a son of Earth.  Greek Text

Fab 31 – Hyginus, Fabulae

He slew Antaeus, son of Earth, in Libya. This man would compel visitors to wrestle with him, and when they were exhausted would kill them. He slew them in wrestling.  Latin Text

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Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, April 2022

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