Herkules und der erymanthische Eber (Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar)
Lützowplatz, Berlin, Germany
It wasn’t Hercules’ fault, but the goddess Hera hated him. He was strong, good-looking…and her husband Zeus’ son. By another woman. And in keeping with that hatred, Hera decided to make Hercules’ life as difficult as possible. When Hercules became an adult, he married a Theban princess and had five children. But Hera wasn’t happy about Hercules being happy. She made him lose his mind and, in his state of despair and confusion, he murdered his entire family. His remorse was desperate. And without knowing where else to go, he sought the advice of the god Apollo. Apollo’s advice was simple – that Hercules should seek some sort of absolution by offering to serve his cousin Eurystheus, King of Mycenae. But little did Hercules know that Hera had already been sweet-talking Eurystheus. When Hercules offered his services, Eurystheus agreed…on condition that Hercules complete twelve tasks, or labours – and those labours were so difficult they might as well have been impossible. This statue by nineteenth century Prussian artist Louis Tuaillon represents the fourth of those twelve labours. Before taking on the Erymanthian Boar, Hercules had already skinned a fearsome lion, killed the Hydra and its nine heads and caught the goddess Diana’s deer. His fourth labour was to bring to bring the Erymanthian Boar to King Eurystheus. One catch…Hercules had to bring him the boar alive. The Boar lived on the Erymanthus mountain (oddly enough…) and every day, he’d come crashing and stomping off the mountain to terrorise the people who lived in the countryside around it. The Boar was strong, so Hercules needed a plan. And a plan he soon had. He snuck up on the boar while it was sleeping and shouted as loudly as he could. At first the Boar was startled. Hercules shouted again. And the Boar took off, running round and round the mountain followed by Hercules – who was still shouting loudly – until eventually, he collapsed in an exhausted heap. Hercules tied the Boar up in his net and brought him alive to King Eurystheus. Four labours down, and Hercules still had eight to go. But in time, he completed all twelve. In so doing, he became the greatest hero in Greece, and atoned for his sins. And presumably had the pleasure of sticking two fingers up at Hera. Even more incredibly, rather than taking it easy after that or putting his feet up, Hercules is said to have joined Jason and the Argonauts on their quest to find the Golden Fleece. He was man unafraid of a challenge.