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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Lactantius: Chap. VII.—Of the wicked life and death of Hercules

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chap. VII.—Of the Wicked Life and Death of Hercules.

But though almost all nations are persuaded that they are gods, yet their actions, as related both by poets and historians, declare that they were men. Who is ignorant of the times in which Hercules lived, since he both sailed with the Argonauts on their expedition, and having stormed Troy, slew Laomedon, the father of Priam, on account of his perjury? From that time rather more than fifteen hundred years are reckoned. He is said not even to have been born honourably, but to have been sprung from Alcmena by adultery, and to have been himself addicted to the vices of his father. He never abstained from women, or males, and traversed the whole world, not so much for the sake of glory as of lust, nor so much for the slaughter of beasts as for the begetting of children. And though he was unvanquished, yet he was triumphed over by Omphale alone, to whom he gave up his club and lion’s skin; and being clothed in a woman’s garment, and crouching at a woman’s feet, he received his task 1459 to execute. He afterwards, in a transport of frenzy, killed his little children and his wife Megara. At last, having put on a garment sent by his wife Deianyra, when he was perishing through ulcers, being unable to endure the pain, he constructed for himself a funeral pile on Mount Œta, and burnt himself alive. Thus it is effected, that although on account of his excellence 1460 he might have been believed to be a god, nevertheless on account of these things be is believed to have been a man.  


Footnotes

226:1459

Pensa quæ faceret. Pensum” properly signifies the wool daily weighed out and given to each servant.  

226:1460

Ob virtutem.  


Next: Chap. VIII.—Of Æsculapius, Apollo, Mars, Castor and Pollux, and of Mercurius and Bacchus

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