Classical Texts Library >> Hyginus, Fabulae >> Fables 100-149




Idas, son of Aphareus, wished to rob Teuthras, king of Moesia, of his kingdom. When Telephus, Hercules’ son, with Parthenopaeus his friend, ahd come there seeking his mother in accordance with the oracle, Teuthras promised he would give him his kingdom and his daughter Auge in marriage if he would protect him from his enemy. Telephus did not disregard the proposal of the king, and with Parthenopaeus’ help overcame Idas in one battle. The king fulfilled his promise, and gave him his kingdom and Auge as wife, unaware of the relationship. Since she [faithful to Hercules] wished no mortal to violate her body, she intended to kill Telephus, not realizing he was her son. And so when they had entered the wedding-chamber, Auge drew a sword to slay Telephus. Then by the will of the gods a serpent of huge size is said to have glided between them, and at the sight Auge dropped the sword and revealed her attempt to Telephus. Telephus, when he heard this, not realizing she was his mother, was about to kill her, but she called for help on Hercules her ravisher, and by that means Telephus recognized his mother, and took her back to her own country.


Telephus, son of Hercules and Auge, is said to have been wounded by Achilles in battle with the spear of Chiron. When for days he suffered cruel torture from the wound, he sought oracular advice from Apollo for a remedy. The answer came that no one could heal him except the very spear that wounded him. When Telephus heard this, he went to King Agamemnon, and by Clytemnestra’s advice snatched the infant Orestes from his cradle, threatening to kill him if the Achaeans did not heal him. Then since the Achaeans had been given an oracle too, that Troy could not be taken without the leadership of Telephus, they readily made peace with him, and begged Achilles to heal him. Achilles replied that he didn’t know the art of healing. Then Ulysses said: Apollo does not mean you, but calls the spear the inflictor of the wound.” When they scraped it, he was healed. When they begged him to go with them to attack Troy, they did not obtain their request, because he had as wife Laodice, daughter of Priam. But in return for their kindness in healing him, he led them there, pointing out places and ways. From there he departed to Moesia.


When Philoctetes, son of Poeas and Demonassa, was on the island of Lemnos, a snake struck his foot. Juno had sent it, angry with him because he alone rather than the others had dared to build the funeral pyre of Hercules when his human body was consumed and he was raised to immortality. Because of the favour Hercules gave him his marvellous arrows. But when the Achaeans could not endure the offensive odour of the wound, by Agamemnon’s order he was left on Lemnos together with the marvellous arrows. A shepherd of King Actor, named Iphimachus, son of Dolops, cared for the abandoned man. Later an oracle was given to them that Troy could not be taken without the arrows of Hercules. Then Agamemnon sent Ulysses and Diomede as scouts to visit him. They persuaded him to be reconciled and to help in attacking Troy, and took him off with them.


An oracle warned the Achaeans that the man who first reached the shore of the Trojans would perish. When the Greek fleet had neared shore, and the others were delaying, Iolaus, son of Iphiclus and Diomedia, was first to leap from his ship, and was promptly killed by Hector. All called him Protesilaus, since he was the first of all to die. When his wife Laodamia, daughter of Acastus, heard that he had died, she wept and begged the gods that she be allowed to speak with him for three hours. It was granted, and when he was led back by Mercury, she spoke with him for three hours. But when Protesilaus died a second time, Laodamia, could not endure her grief.