Readings for reflection: Herakles

Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 29
At Thebes Proitos had a daughter Galinthias. This maiden was playmate and companion of Alkmene, daughter of Elektryon. As the birth throes for Herakles were pressing on Alkmene, the Moirai and Eileithyia, as a favour to Hera, kept Alkmene in continuous birth pangs. They remained seated, each keeping their arms crossed. Galinthias, fearing that the pains of her labour would drive Alkmene mad, ran to the Moirai and Eleithyia and announced that by desire of Zeus a boy had been born to Alkmene and that their prerogatives had been abolished. At all this, consternation of course overcame the Moirai and they immediately let go their arms. Alkmene’s pangs ceased at once and Herakles was born. The Moirai were aggrieved at this and took away the womanly parts of Galinthias since, being but a mortal, she had deceived the gods. They turned her into a deceitful weasel (or polecat), making her live in crannies and gave her a grotesque way of mating. She is mounted through the ears and gives birth by bringing forth her young through the throat. Hekate felt sorry for this transformation of her appearance and appointed her a sacred servant of herself.

Apollodoros, Bibliotheca 2.5.10
At Rhegion a bull broke away and hastily plunging into the sea swam across to Sicily, and having passed through the neighboring country since called Italy after it, for the Tyrrhenians called the bull italus, came to the plain of Eryx, who reigned over the Elymoi. Now Eryx was a son of Poseidon, and he mingled the bull with his own herds. So Herakles entrusted the kine to Hephaistos and hurried away in search of the bull. He found it in the herds of Eryx, and when the king refused to surrender it unless Herakles should beat him in a wrestling bout, Herakles beat him thrice, killed him in the wrestling, and taking the bull drove it with the rest of the herd to the Ionian Sea.

Apollodoros, Bibliotheka 2.62
When Herakles was eight months old, Hera sent two great serpents to his bed, for she wanted the infant destroyed. Alkmene cried out for Amphitryon, but Herakles woke up and squeezed the serpents to death.

Apollodoros, Bibliotheka 2.72
It fell to the lot of Herakles to go mad because of the jealousy of Hera. In his madness he threw into a fire his and Megara’s children, as well as two belonging to Iphikles.

Apollodoros, Bibliotheka 2.92
For the sixth labour Herakles was ordered to drive off the Stymphalian birds. Herakles was stumped by the problem of driving the birds out of the woods, but Athena got some bronze noise-makers from Hephaistos and gave them to him, and by shaking these from a mountain adjacent to the lake he frightened the birds. Not enduring the racket, they flew up in fear, and in this maner Herakles reached them with his arrows.

Apollonios Rhodios, Argonautika 4. 1390 ff
Orpheus sobbed as he prayed and the Nymphai who had gathered near forgot their grief and took pity on the suffering men. They wrought a miracle. First, grass sprung up from the ground, then long shoots appeared above the grass, and in a moment three saplings, tall, straight and in full leaf, were growing there. Hespere became a poplar; Erytheis an elm; Aigle a sacred willow. Yet they were still themselves; the trees could not conceal their former shapes–that was the greatest wonder of all. And now the Argonauts heard Aigle in her gentle voice tell them what they wished to know, “You have indeed been fortunate for there was a man here yesterday, an evil man, who killed the watching snake, stole our golden apples, and is gone. To us he brought unspeakable sorrow; to you release from suffering. He was a savage brute, hideous to look at; a cruel man, with glaring eyes and scowling face. He wore the skin of an enormous lion and carried a great club of olive-wood and the bow and arrows with which he shot our monster here. It appeared that he, like you, had come on foot and was parched with thirst. For he rushed about the place in search of water; but with no success, till he found the rock that you see over there near to the Tritonian lagoon. Then it occurred to him, or he was prompted by a god, to tap the base of the rock. He struck it with his foot, water gushed out, and he fell on his hands and chest and drank greedily from the cleft till, with his head down like a beast in the fields, he had filled his mighty paunch. Do thou likewise.”

Scholiast on Aristophanes’ Ploutos 845
Great and Lesser Mysteries used to be celebrated at Eleusis in Attica. Previously the Lesser did not exist, but when Herakles came and wanted to be initiated. It was not lawful for the Athenians to initiate any foreigner, but as they respected his outstanding qualities and because he was a friend of the city and a son of Zeus, they created the Lesser Mysteries into which they initiated him. The Great Mysteries belong to Demeter, the Lesser to Persephone her daughter.

[Aristotle], de Mirabilibus Auscultationibus 133
In the country called Aeniac, in that part called Hypate, an ancient pillar is said to have been found; as it bore an inscription in archaic characters of which the Aenianes wished to know the origin, they sent messengers to Athens to take it there. But as they were travelling through Boeotia, and discussing their journey from home with some strangers, it is said that they were escorted into the so‑called Ismenium in Thebes. For they were told that the inscription was most likely to be deciphered there, as they possessed certain offerings having ancient letters similar in form. There having discovered what they were seeking from the known letters they transcribed the following lines:

I Heracles dedicated a sacred grove to Cythera Persephassa,
when I was driving the flocks of Geryon and Erythea.
The goddess Persephassa subdued me with desire for her.
Here my newly wed Erythe brought forth a son Erython;
then I gave her the plain in memory of our love under a shady beech-tree.

The place called Erythus answered to this inscription and also the fact that he brought the cows from there, and not from Erytheia; for they say that the name Erytheia does not occur in the districts of Libya and Iberia.

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 11.56
And Alkimos the Sicilian, in that book of his which is entitled the Italian History, says that all the women in Italy avoid drinking wine on this account; when Herakles was in the district of the Crotoniatæ, he one day was very thirsty, and came to a certain house by the wayside and asked for something to drink; and it happened that the wife of the master of the house had privily opened a cask of wine, and therefore she said to her husband that it would be a shameful thing for him to open this cask for a stranger; and so she bade him give Herakles some water. But Herakles, who was standing at the door, and heard all this, praised her husband very much, but advised him to go indoors himself and look at the cask. And when he had gone in, he found that the cask had become petrified. And this fact is proved by the conduct of the women of the country, among whom it is reckoned disgraceful, to this day, to drink wine, on account of the above-mentioned reason.

Jacquelyn Collins Clinton,  A Late Antique Shrine of Liber Pater at Cosa pages 25-27
All of the above marble sculptures were reused in the late antique shrine. The statuettes probably served originally as private statuary of a decorative nature placed in house or garden, from the ruins of which the worshippers of Bacchus removed them to their shrine. […] These works do not fit into the Bacchic religious context as readily as the reused marble sculptures representing Dionysus directly, since they all were probably found purely by chance. One can only speculate on the reasons for reusing them at all. […] The small bust of Hercules is represented with grape leaves stick into the fillet around his head. He has thus a Bacchic aspect which must have had an immediate and relevant appeal. […] The Lysippean type after which the Cosa head is patterned is related to that of the Herakles Epitrapezios where Herakles is shown seated and holding out a cup of wine in an attitude of heroic repose after having attained immortality. This image of Herakles’ repose goes back to the sixth century B.C. in Greek vase painting where he is shown resting under a tree; by the end of the century, the repose came to be expressed in terms of a banquet, often celebrated with Dionysus. […] The Roman Hercules, of course, loved his wine and he is shown in works of art also engaged in a drinking contest with Dionysus. The theme of the drunken Hercules, furthermore, accounts for his inclusion in the Bacchic thiasos from Hellenistic times on. It becomes very popular in Roman times where Hercules bipax appears in representations of the Bacchic thiasos on sarcophagi. The imagery in these representations is, of course, funerary, illustrating the Bacchic concept of the afterlife as a continuing joyful revel or banquet. […] Moreover, the close connection between Hercules and Bacchus goes beyond these mythological ties, for the two were worshipped together in a common cult at least as early as the sixth century B.C. throughout Macedonia and Thrace, including the island of Thasos, and their names or images are linked in several monuments found in this region during Roman times. They are linked in various other monuments from other parts of the Roman world as well, and they were patron gods of Leptis Magna, the birthplace of Septimius Severus, who erected a temple for them in Rome and had their images included on his coinage. […] Thus, the connections between Hercules and Bacchus are so many and varied, with a long history continuing through late Roman times, that to discover an image of Hercules in a Bacchic shrine is not surprising.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.12.3
Pholos was a centaur who received Herakles with the courtesies due to a guest and opened for him a jar of wine which had been buried in the earth. This jar, the writers of myths relate, had of old been left with a certain centaur by Dionysos, who had given him orders only to open it when Herakles should come to that place. And so, four generations after that time, when Herakles was being entertained as a guest, Pholos recalled the orders of Dionysos. Now when the jar had been opened the sweet odour of the wine, because of its great age and strength, came to the centaurs dwelling near there, it came to pass that they were driven mad; consequently they rushed in a body to the dwelling of Pholos and set about plundering him of the wine in a terrifying manner.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.13.4
The next Labour which Herakles undertook was to bring back from Crete the bull of which, they say, Pasiphae had been enamoured.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.22.1
From the Phlegraion Plain Herakles went down to the sea, where he constructed works about the lake which bears the name Lake of Avernus and is held sacred to Persephone. Now this lake lies between Misenon and Dikaiercheia near the hot waters, and is about five stades in circumference and of incredible depth; for its water is very pure and has to the eye a dark blue colour because of its very great depth. And the myths record that in ancient times there had been on its shores an Oracle of the Dead which, they say, was destroyed in later days.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.23.4
While Herakles was making the circuit of Sicily at this time he came to the city which is now Syracuse, and on learning what the myth relates about the rape of Kore he offered sacrifices to the goddesses on a magnificent scale, and after dedicating to her the fairest bull of his heard and casting it in the spring Kyane he commanded the natives to sacrifice each year to Kore and to conduct at Kyane a festive gathering and a sacrifice in splendid fashion.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.24.1-6
After this Heracles, as he passed through the plain of Leontini, marveled at the beauty of the land, and to show his affection for the men who honoured him he left behind him there imperishable memorials of his presence. And it came to pass that a peculiar thing took place near the city of Agyrium. Here he was honoured on equal terms with the Olympian gods by festivals and splendid sacrifices, and though before this time he had accepted no sacrifice, he then gave his consent for the first time, since the deity was giving intimations to him of his coming immortality. For instance, there was a road not far from the city which was all of rock, and yet the cattle left their tracks in it as if in a waxy substance. Since, then, this same thing happened in case of Heracles as well and his tenth Labour was likewise coming to an end, he considered that he was already to a degree participating in immortality and so accepted the annual sacrifices which were offered him by the people of the city. Consequently, as a mark of his gratitude to the people who had found favour with him, he built before the city a lake, four stades in circumference, which he ordained should be called by his name; and he likewise gave his name to the moulds of the tracks which the cattle had left in the rock and dedicated to the hero Geryones a sacred precint which is honoured to this day by the people of that region. To Iolaüs, his nephew, who was his companion on the expedition, he likewise dedicated a notable sacred precinct, and ordained that annual honours and sacrifices should be offered to him, as is done even to this day; for all the inhabitants of this city let the hair of their heads grow from their birth in honour of Iolaüs, until they have obtained good omens in costly sacrifices and have rendered the god propitious. And such a holiness and majesty pervade the sacred precinct that he boys who fail to perform the customary rites lose their power of speech and become like dead men. But so soon as anyone of them who is suffering from this malady takes a vow that he will pay the sacrifice and vouchsafes to the god a pledge to that effect, at once, they say, he is restored to health. Now the inhabitants, in pursuance of these rites, call the gate, at which they come into the presence of the god and offer him these sacrifices, “The Heracleian,” and every year with the utmost zeal they hold games which include gymnastic contests and horse-races. And since the whole populace, both free men and slaves, unite in approbation of the god, they have commanded their servants, as they do honour to him apart from the rest, to gather in bands and when they come together to hold banquets and perform sacrifices to the god.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.25.1
Herakles received a command from Eurystheos to bring Kerberos up from Haides to the light of day. And assuming that it would be to his advantage for the accomplishment of this labour, he went to Athens and took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, Mousaios, the son of Orpheus being at that time in charge of the initiatory rites … Herakles then descended into the realm of Haides, and being welcomed like a brother by Persephone brought Theseus and Peirithous back to the upper world after freeing them from their bonds. This he accomplished by the favour of Persephone, and receiving the dog Kerberos in chains he carried him away to the amazement of all and exhibited him to men.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 4.55.4-4.55.5
Now as for Medeia, they say, on finding upon her arrival in Thebes that Herakles was possessed of a frenzy of madness and had slain his sons, she restored him to health by means of drugs. But since Eurystheus was pressing Herakles with his commands, she despaired of receiving any aid from him at the moment and sought refuge in Athens with Aegeus, the son of Pandion. Here, as some say, she married Aegeus and gave birth to Medus, who was later king of Media.

Diodoros Sikeliotes, Library of History 5.4.1-2
Like the two goddesses whom we have mentioned Korê, we are told, received as her portion the meadows round about Enna; but a great fountain was made sacred to her in the territory of Syracuse and given the name Kyanê or “Azure Fount.” For the myth relates that it was near Syracuse that Pluton effected the rape of Korê and took her away in his chariot, and that after cleaving the earth asunder he himself descended into Hades, taking along with him the bride whom he had seized, and that he caused the fountain named Kyanê to gush forth, near which the Syracusans each year hold a notable festive gathering; and private individuals offer the lesser victims, but when the ceremony is on behalf of the community, bulls are plunged in the pool, this manner of sacrifice having been commanded by Herakles on the occasion when he made the circuit of all Sicily, while driving off the cattle of Geryones.

Martial, Epigrams IV.44
This is Vesuvius, green yesterday with viny shades; here had the noble grape loaded the dripping vats; these ridges Bacchus loved more than the hills of Nysa; on this mount of late the Satyrs set afoot their dances; this was the haunt of Venus, more pleasant to her than Lacedaemon; this spot was made glorious by the fame of Hercules. All lies drowned in fire and melancholy ash; even the High Gods could have wished this had not been permitted them.

Nonnos, Dionysiaka 35. 333
After Dionysos was reconciled with Hera in heaven, she wished to give him Hebe’s hand in marriage, had not Zeus our Lord on High ordained that in days to come twelvelabour Herakles was fated to be her husband.

Olympiodoros, Commentary on Plato’s Phaedo
The soul descends after the manner of Kore into generation, but is distributed into generation Dionysiacally, and she is bound in body Prometheiacally and Titanically: she frees herself therefore from its bonds by exercising the strength of Herakles; but she is collected into one through the assistance of Apollon and the savior Athene, by philosophical discipline of mind and heart purifying the nature.

Ovid, Fasti 2.331-380
But to explain why Faunus should particularly eschew the use of drapery a merry tale is handed down from days of old. As chance would have it, the Tirynthian youth was walking in the company of his mistress; Faunus saw them both from a high ridge. He saw and burned. “Ye mountain elves,” quoth he. “I’m done with you. Yon shall be my true flame.” As the Maeonian damsel tripped along, her scented locks streamed down her shoulders; her bosom shone resplendent with golden braid. A golden parasol kept off the sun’s warm beams; and yet it was the hands of Hercules that bore it up. Now had she reached the grove of Bacchus and the vineyards of Tmolus, and dewy Hesperus rode on his dusky steed. She passed within a cave, whereof the fretted roof was all of tufa and of living rock, and at the mouth there ran a babbling brook. While the attendants were making ready the viands and the wine for the wassail, she arrayed Alcides in her own garb. She gave him gauzy tunics in Gaetulian purple dipped; she gave him the dainty girdle, which but now had girt her waist. For his belly the girdle was too small; he undid the clasps of the tunics to thrust out his big hands. The bracelets he had broken, not made to fit those arms; his big feet split the little shoes. She herself took the heavy club, the lion’s skin, and the lesser weapons stored in their quiver. In such array they feasted, in such array they resigned themselves to slumber, and lay down apart on beds set side by side; the reason was that they were preparing to celebrate in all purity, when day should dawn, a festival in honour of the discoverer of the vine.

‘Twas midnight. What durst not wanton love essay? Through the gloom came Faunus to the dewy cave, and when he saw the attendants in drunken slumber sunk, he conceived a hope that their masters might be as sound asleep. He entered and, rash lecher, he wandered to and fro; with hands outstretched before him he felt his cautious way. At last he reached by groping the beds, where they were spread, and at his first move fortune smiled on hi. When he felt the bristly skin of the tawny lion, he stayed his hand in terror, and thunderstruck recoiled, as oft on seeing a snake a wayfarer freezes in alarm. Then he touched the soft drapes of the next couch, and its deceptive touch beguiled him. He mounted and reclined on the nearer side, his swollen penis harder than horn, and meanwhile pulling up the bottom edge of the garment; there he met legs that bristled with thick rough hair. Before he could go further, the Tirynthian hero abruptly thrust him away, and down he fell from the top of the bed. There was a crash. Omphale called for her attendants and demanded a light: torches were brought in, and the truth was out. After his heavy fall from the high couch Faunus groaned and scarce could lift himself from the hard ground. Alcides laughed, as did all who saw him lying; the Lydian wench laughed also at her lover. Thus betrayed by vesture, the god loves not garments which deceive the eye, and bids his worshippers come naked to his rites.

Ovid, Fasti 6.66 ff
Hercules’ wife stood there; life’s bloom shimmered in her face. ‘If my mother  told me,’ she says, ‘to leave all heaven I would not stay against my mother’s will. So now I will not fight her over this time’s name, but coax and almost play petitioner. I’d rather keep my rights of possession by pleading, and perhaps my case might win your favour. Mother owns the golden Capitol with her joint shrine, and rightly holds the summit with Jove. But my whole glory comes from a month’s origin; I am anxious for my only honour. Does it matter, Roman, that you gave Hercules’ wife the month’s name, and posterity remembers? This land owes me something, too, on my great husband’s account. He drove the captured cattle here, where Cacus found no defense in his father’s gift of flame and dyed Aventine dirt with blood. I pass to more recent times. Romulus divided the people by years into two sections: one was readier to give counsel, one to fight, one age advises war, one wages it. So he decreed and marked the months with the same token: June’s for juniors, the seniors’ month precedes.’ She spoke. They would have hotly disputed the claim and cloaked family piety with wrath : Concordia arrived.

Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.1-59
Meanwhile the Romans looked for a leader, to bear the weight of such responsibility, and follow so great a king: Fame, the true harbinger, determined on the illustrious Numa for the throne. Not content with knowing the rituals of the Sabine people, with his capable mind he conceived a wider project, and delved into the nature of things. His love of these enquiries led him to leave his native Cures, and visit the city of Crotona, to which Hercules was friendly. When Numa asked who was the founder of this Greek city on Italian soil, one of the older inhabitants, not ignorant of the past, replied: ‘They say that Hercules, Jupiter’s son, back from the sea with the rich herds of Spain, happily came to the shore of Lacinium, and while his cattle strayed through the tender grass, he entered the house of the great Croton, a not inhospitable roof, and refreshed himself with rest, after his long labours, and, in leaving, said: ‘At a future time, there will be a city here, of your descendants.’

And the promise proved true, since there was one Myscelus, the son of Alemon of Argos, dearest to the gods of all his generation. Hercules, the club-bearer, leaning over him, spoke to him as he lay in a deep sleep: ‘Rise now, leave your native country: go, find the pebble-filled waves of Aesar!’ and he threatened him with many and fearful things if he did not obey. Then the god and sleep vanished together. Alemon’s son rose, and, in silence, thought over the vision, fresh in his mind. He struggled in himself for a long time over the decision: the god ordered him to go: the law prohibited his going. Death was the penalty for the man who wished to change his nationality.

Bright Sol had hidden his shining face in Ocean’s stream, and Night had lifted her starriest face: the same god seemed to appear to him, to admonish him in the same way, and warn of worse and greater punishment if he did not obey. He was afraid, and prepared, at once, to transfer the sanctuary of his ancestors to a new place. There was talk in the city, and he was brought to trial, for showing contempt for the law. When the case against him had been presented, and it was evident the charge was proven, without needing witnesses, the wretched defendant, lifting his face and hands to heaven, cried: ‘O you, whose twelve labours gave you the right to heaven, help me, I beg you! Since you are the reason for my crime.’

The ancient custom was to vote using black and white pebbles: the black to condemn: the white to absolve from punishment. Now, also, the harsh verdict was determined in this way, and every pebble dropped into the pitiless urn was black: but when the urn was tipped over and the pebbles poured out for the count, their colour had changed from black to white, and, acquitted through the divine power of Hercules, Alemon’s son was freed.

He first gave thanks to that son of Amphitryon, his patron, and with favouring winds set sail on the Ionian Sea. He sailed by Neretum, of the Sallentines, Sybaris, and the Spartan colony of Tarentum, the bay of Siris, Crimisa, and the Iapygian fields. He had barely passed the lands that overlook those seas, when he came, by destiny, to the mouth of the river Aesar, and near it the tumulus beneath which the earth covered the sacred bones of Croton. He founded the city of Crotona there, in the land commanded by the god, and derived the name of the city from him, whom the tumulus held. Such were the established beginnings, according to reliable tradition, of that place, and the cause of the city’s being sited on Italian soil.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.15.3
Theseus is represented as coming up from the underworld accompanied by Athena and Herakles.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.27.9
Another deed of Theseus they have represented in an offering, and the story about it is as follows :–The land of the Cretans and especially that by the river Tethris was ravaged by a bull. And so the Cretans say that this bull was sent by Poseidon to their land because, although Minos was lord of the Greek Sea, he did not worship Poseidon more than any other god. They say that this bull crossed from Crete to the Peloponnese, and came to be one of what are called the Twelve Labours of Herakles. When he was let loose on the Argive plain he fled through the Isthmus of Corinth, into the land of Attica as far as the Attic parish of Marathon, killing all he met, including Androgeos, son of Minos. Minos sailed against Athens with a fleet, not believing that the Athenians were innocent of the death of Androgeos, and sorely harassed them until it was agreed that he should take seven maidens and seven boys for the Minotaur that was said to dwell in the Labyrinth at Knossos. But the Marathonian bull Theseus is said to have driven afterwards to the Akropolis and to have sacrificed to the goddess Athene; the offering commemorating this deed was dedicated by the parish of Marathon.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.13.3
On the Phliasian citadel is a grove of cypress trees and a sanctuary which from ancient times has been held to be peculiarly holy. The earliest Phliasians named the goddess to whom the sanctuary belongs Ganymeda; but later authorities call her Hebe, whom Homer mentions in the duel between Menelaos and Alexandros, saying that she was the cup-bearer of the gods; and again he says, in the descent of Odysseus to Haides, that she was the wife of Herakles. Olen, in his hymn to Hera, says that Hera was reared by the Horai, and that her children were Ares and Hebe. Of the honours that the Phliasians pay to this goddess the greatest is the pardoning of suppliants. All those who seek sanctuary here receive full forgiveness, and prisoners, when set free, dedicate their fetters on the trees in the grove. The Phliasians also celebrate a yearly festival which they call Kissotomoi (Ivy-cutters). There is no image, either kept in secret of openly displayed, and the reason for this is set forth in a sacred legend of theirs though on the left as you go out is a temple of Hera with an image of Parian marble.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.31.2
In the temple of Artemis at Troizen are altars to the gods said to rule under the earth. It is here that they say Semele was brought out of Haides by Dionysos, and that Herakles dragged up the Hound of Haides. But I cannot bring myself to believe even that Semele died at all, seeing that she was the wife of Zeus.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.15.9
The Lakedaimonians are the only Greeks who surname Hera Aigophagos (Goat-eater), and sacrifice goats to the goddess. They say that Herakles founded the sanctuary and was the first to sacrifice goats, because in his fight against Hippokoon and his children he met with no hindrance from Hera, although in his other adventures he thought that the goddess opposed him. He sacrificed goats, they say, because he lacked other kinds of victim.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 4.32.1
Hermes, Herakles and Theseus, who are honored in the gymnasium and wrestling-ground according to a practice universal among Greeks, and now common among barbarians.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 7.25.10
On descending from Boura towards the sea you come to a river called Bouraikos, and to a small Herakles in a cave. He too is surnamed Bouraikos, and here one can divine by means of a tablet and dice. He who inquires of the god offers up a prayer in front of the image, and after the prayer he takes four dice, a plentiful supply of which are placed by Herakles, and throws them upon the table. For every configuration made by the dice there is an explanation expressly written on the tablet.

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.11.3
The Pharmakeai (Witches) were sent by Hera to hinder the birth-pangs of Alkmena. So these kept Alkmena from bringing forth her child. But Historis, the daughter of Teiresias, thought of a trick to deceive the Pharmakeai, and she uttered a loud cry of joy in their hearing, that Alkmena had been delivered. So the story goes that the Pharmakeai were deceived and went away, and Alkmena brought forth her child.

Photius, Myriobiblon 190
Ptolemy Hephaestion says that Herakles, after the Nemean lion had bitten off one of his fingers, had only nine and that there exists a tomb erected for this detached finger; other authors say that he lost his finger following a blow by a dart of a stingray and one can see at Sparta a stone lion erected on the tomb of the finger and which is the symbol of the power of the hero. It is since then that stone lions have likewise been erected on the tombs of other important people; other authors give different explications of the lion statues.

Pindar, Nemean Odes 1.14
Zeus, the lord of Olympus, gave to Persephone, and shook his locks in token unto her that, as queen of the teeming earth, the fertile land of Sicily would be raised to renown by the wealth of her glorious cities; and the son of Cronus granted that the host of armed horsemen, that awaketh the memory of bronze-clad war, would full oft be wedded with the golden leaves of Olympia’s olive. Lo ! I have lighted on a varied theme, without flinging one false word and my heart cleaveth fast unto the theme of Heracles, while, amid the greatest and loftiest deeds of prowess, I wake the memory of that olden story, which telleth how, at the time when the son of Zeus, with his twin-brother, suddenly came from his mother’s birth-pangs with the light of day; — how, I say, when he was laid in his swathing-bands, he escaped not the ken of Hera on her golden throne. Stung with wrath, that queen of the gods sent anon two serpents. Soon as the doors were opened, they crept on to the spacious inner-chamber, yearning to coil their darting jaws around the babes. Yet he lifted up his head, and made his first essay of battle, by seizing the twain serpents by their necks in his twain irresistible hands, and, while they were being strangled, the lapse of time breathed forth their souls from out their monstrous limbs.

Plutarch, Life of Aristides 20.5
Eukleia is regarded by most as Artemis, and is so addressed; but some say she was a daughter of Herakles and of that Myrto who was daughter of Menoitios and sister of Patroklos, and that, dying in virginity, she received divine honors among the Boiotians and Lokrians. For she has an altar and an image built in every market place, and receives preliminary sacrifices from would-be brides and bridegrooms as the goddess of good repute.

Plutarch, Life of Nisias 25.1
Presently their diviners announced to the Syrakousans that the sacrifices indicated a splendid victory for them if only they did not begin the fighting, but acted on the defensive. Herakles also, they said, always won the day because he acted on the defensive and suffered himself to be attacked first. Thus encouraged, they put out from shore and when they won the battle against the Athenians the Syrakousans were given over to sacrificial revels because of their victory and their festival of Herakles.

Plutarch, Life of Romulus 5
They pay honours also to another Larentia, for the following reason. The keeper of the temple of Herakles, being at a loss for something to do, as it seems, proposed to the god a game of dice, with the understanding that if he won it himself, he should get some valuable present from the god; but if he lost, he would furnish the god with a bounteous repast and a lovely woman to keep him company for the night. On these terms the dice were thrown, first for the god, then for himself, when it appeared that he had lost. Wishing to keep faith, and thinking it right to abide by the contract, he prepared a banquet for the god, and engaging Larentia, who was then in the bloom of her beauty, but not yet famous, he feasted her in the temple, where he had spread a couch, and after the supper locked her in, assured of course that the god would take possession of her. And verily it is said that the god did visit the woman, and bade her go early in the morning to the forum, salute the first man who met her, and make him her friend. She was met, accordingly, by one of the citizens who was well on in years and possessed of a considerable property, but childless, and unmarried all his life, by name Tarrutius. This man took Larentia to his bed and loved her well, and at his death left her heir to many and fair possessions, most of which she bequeathed to the people. And it is said that when she was now famous and regarded as the beloved of a god, she disappeared at the spot where the former Larentia also lies buried.

Propertius, Elegies 1.13
The passion of Hercules, all afire for divine Hebe, tasted its first raptures after he had burned on an Oetean pyre.

Strabo, Geography 6.3.5
First, to the small town of Baris, six hundred stadia; Baris is called by the people of to‑day Veretum, is situated at the edge of the Salentine territory, and the trip thither from Taras is for the most part easier to make on foot than by sailing. Thence to Leuca eighty stadia; this, too, is a small town, and in it is to be seen a fountain of malodorous water; the mythical story is told that those of the Giants who survived at the Campanian Phlegra and are called the Leuternian Giants were driven out by Herakles, and on fleeing hither for refuge were shrouded by Mother Earth, and the fountain gets its malodorous stream from the ichor of their bodies; and for this reason, also, the seaboard here is called Leuternia.

Strabo, Geography 11.2.10
In Phanagoreia in Mysia there is a notable temple of Aphrodite Apatouros (Deceiver). Critics derive the etymology of the epithet of the goddess by adducing a certain myth, according to which the giants attacked the goddess there; but she called upon Herakles for help and hid him in a cave, and then, admitting the giants one by one, gave them over to Herakles to be murdered through ‘treachery’ (apate).

Strabo, Geography 12.3
In the territory of Heracleia grows the aconite.

Suidas s.v. Βάλλ’ ἐς Μακαρίαν
Be gone into blessedness i.e. into Haides. For Makaria was the daughter of Herakles; when Eurystheus brought an army against Athens she volunteered herself as a sacrifice for the salvation of the rest. This same thing they also say thus: ἐς Μακαρίαν and εἰς Μακαρίαν.