(3 syl.), in astronomy, a large northern constellation.
“Those stars in the neighbourhood of Hercules are mostly found to be
approaching the earth, and those which lie in the opposite direction to
be receding from it.” —
(3 syl.). A Grecian hero, possessed of the utmost amount of physical strength and vigour that the human frame is capable of. He is represented as brawny, muscular, shortnecked, and of huge proportions. The Pythian told him if he would serve Eurystheus for twelve years he should become immortal; accordingly he bound himself to the Argive king, who imposed upon him twelve tasks of great difficulty and danger:
(1) To slay the Nemean lion.
(2) To kill the Lernean hydra.
(3) To catch and retain the Arcadian stag.
(4) To destroy the Erymanthian boar.
(5) To cleanse the stables of King Augeas.
(6) To destroy the cannibal birds of the Lake Stymphalis.
(7) To take captive the Cretan bull.
(8) To catch the horses of the Thracian Diomedes.
(9) To get possession of the girdle of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons.
(10) To take captive the oxen of the monster Geryon.
(11) To get possession of the apples of the Hesperides.
(12) To bring up from the infernal regions the three-headed dog Cerberos. The Neinean lion first he killed, then Lernes hydra slew;
Th' Arcadian stag and monster boar before Eurystheus drew;
Cleansed Augeas' staffs, and made the birds from Lake stymphalis flee; The Cretan bull, and Thracian neares, first seized and then set tree;
Took prize the Amazonian belt, brought Geryon's kine from Gades; Fetched apples from the Hesperides and Cerberos from Hades. E.C.B.
The Attic Hercules. Theseus (2 syl.), who went about like Hercule, his great contemporary, destroying robbers and achieving wondrous exploits.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894