The Shield of Heracles
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The men were making merry with festivities and dances; some were bringing home a bride to her husband on a well-wheeled car, while the bridal-song swelled high, and the glow of blazing torches held by handmaidens rolled in waves afar.
The Shield of Heracles | D&R - Kültür, Sanat ve Eğlence Dünyası
And these maidens went before, delighting in the festival; and after them came frolicsome choirs, the youths singing soft-mouthed to the sound of shrill pipes, while the echo was shivered around them, and the girls led on the lovely dance to the sound of lyres. Then again on the other side was a rout of young men revelling, with flutes playing; some frolicking with dance and song, and others were going forward in time with a flute player and laughing.
The whole town was filled with mirth and dance and festivity. And there were ploughmen breaking up the good soul, clothed in tunics girt up. Also there was a wide cornland and some men were reaping with sharp hooks the stalks which bended with the weight of the cars -- as if they were reaping Demeter's grain: others were binding the sheaves with bands and were spreading the threshing floor. And some held reaping hooks and were gathering the vintage, while others were taking from the reapers into baskets white and black clusters from the long rows of vines which were heavy with leaves and tendrils of silver.
Others again were gathering them into baskets. Beside them was a row of vines in gold, the splendid work of cunning Hephaestus: it had shivering leaves and stakes of silver and was laden with grapes which turned black. Also there were men boxing and wrestling, and huntsmen chasing swift hares with a leash of sharp-toothed dogs before them, they eager to catch the hares, and the hares eager to escape.
The works and days. Theogony. The shield of Herakles.
The charioteers standing on their well-woven cars, urged on their swift horses with loose rein; the jointed cars flew along clattering and the naves of the wheels shrieked loudly. So they were engaged in an unending toil, and the end with victory came never to them, and the contest was ever unwon. And there was set out for them within the course a great tripod of gold, the splendid work of cunning Hephaestus.
Over it swans were soaring and calling loudly, and many others were swimming upon the surface of the water; and near them were shoals of fish. This shield the valiant son of Zeus wielded masterly, and leaped upon his horse-chariot like the lightning of his father Zeus who holds the aegis, moving lithely. And his charioteer, strong Iolaus, standing upon the car, guided the curved chariot. Even now Zeus who reigns over the blessed gods gives you power to slay Cycnus and to strip off his splendid armour.
Yet I will tell you something besides, mightiest of the people. When you have robbed Cycnus of sweet life, then leave him there and his armour also, and you yourself watch man-slaying Ares narrowly as he attacks, and wherever you shall see him uncovered below his cunningly-wrought shield, there wound him with your sharp spear. Then draw back; for it is not ordained that you should take his horses or his splendid armour.
Then heaven-nurtured Iolaus called terribly to the horses, and at his cry they swiftly whirled the fleet chariot along, raising dust from the plain; for the goddess bright-eyed Athene put mettle into them by shaking her aegis. And the earth groaned all round them.
Theogony, Works and Days, and the Shield of Heracles (Translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White)
And they, horse-taming Cycnus and Ares, insatiable in war, came on together like fire or whirlwind. Then their horses neighed shrilly, face to face; and the echo was shivered all round them. Why, pray, do you set your swift horses at us, men who are tried in labour and pain? Nay, guide your fleet car aside and yield and go out of the path. It is to Trachis I am driving on, to Ceyx the king, who is the first in Trachis for power and for honour, and that you yourself know well, for you have his daughter dark-eyed Themistinoe to wife.
For Ares shall not deliver you from the end of death, if we two meet together in battle. Another time ere this I declare he has made trial of my spear, when he defended sandy Pylos and stood against me, fiercely longing for fight.
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Thrice was he stricken by my spear and dashed to earth, and his shield was pierced; but the fourth time I struck his thigh, laying on with all my strength, and tare deep into his flesh. And he fell headlong in the dust upon the ground through the force of my spear-thrust; then truly he would have been disgraced among the deathless gods, if by my hands he had left behind his bloody spoils.
But Cycnus the stout spearman cared not to obey him and to pull up the horses that drew his chariot. Then it was that from their well-woven cars they both leaped straight to the ground, the son of Zeus and the son of the Lord of War. The charioteers drove near by their horses with beautiful manes, and the wide earth rang with the beat of their hoofs as they rushed along. As when rocks leap forth from the high peak of a great mountain, and fall on one another, and many towering oaks and pines and long-rooted poplars are broken by them as they whirl swiftly down until they reach the plain; so did they fall on one another with a great shout: and all the town of the Myrmidons, and famous Iolcus, and Arne, and Helice, and grassy Anthea echoed loudly at the voice of the two.
With an awful cry they closed: and wise Zeus thundered loudly and rained down drops of blood, giving the signal for battle to his dauntless son. And when the dark-winged whirring grasshopper, perched on a green shoot, begins to sing of summer to men -- his food and drink is the dainty dew -- and all day long from dawn pours forth his voice in the deadliest heat, when Sirius scorches the flesh then the beard grows upon the millet which men sow in summer , when the crude grapes which Dionysus gave to men -- a joy and a sorrow both -- begin to colour, in that season they fought and loud rose the clamour.
But the son of Amphitryon, mighty Heracles, with his long spear struck Cycnus violently in the neck beneath the chin, where it was unguarded between helm and shield. And the deadly spear cut through the two sinews; for the hero's full strength lighted on his foe. And Cycnus fell as an oak falls or a lofty pine that is stricken by the lurid thunderbolt of Zeus; even so he fell, and his armour adorned with bronze clashed about him. Even so, the son of Amphitryon, unsated of battle, stood eagerly face to face with Ares, nursing courage in his heart.
And Ares drew near him with grief in his heart; and they both sprang at one another with a cry. As it is when a rock shoots out from a great cliff and whirls down with long bounds, careering eagerly with a roar, and a high crag clashes with it and keeps it there where they strike together; with no less clamour did deadly Ares, the chariot- borne, rush shouting at Heracles.
And he quickly received the attack. Come, then, cease fighting and do not withstand me. But he uttered a great shout and waving his spears like fire, he rushed headlong at strong Heracles, longing to kill him, and hurled a brazen spear upon the great shield, for he was furiously angry because of his dead son; but bright-eyed Athene reached out from the car and turned aside the force of the spear. A poetic treatise on agriculture and farming, Works and Days also presents instructions for daily life and social behavior.
Theogony, on the other hand, concerns the origins of the gods, from the battle between the Titans to the ultimate triumph of Zeus. The Shield of Heracles holds further adventure, recounting one of the legendary hero's epic battles. This scrupulously accurate and readable translation is essential for students of Greek mythology and literature.
Hesiod's writings are one of the oldest and most important sources on topics like Greek mythology, farming, economic thought, astronomy, and timekeeping. Among the works credited to Hesiod is The Shield of Heracles, an archaic Greek epic poem consisting of hexameter verses. The poem is about one of the journeys of Heracles, better known in English as Hercules.