The Erymanthian Boar was a giant, monstrous wild boar that ravaged the farms of Psophis. Capturing the boar alive was one of the Twelve Labors faced by demigod hero Heracles at the request of King Eurystheus.
The boar got its name from the Erymanthus mountain where it lived in Arcadia. The mountain was said to once have been sacred to Artemis. Each day when the monstrous boar would leave its mountain lair, it would attack men and animals all over the countryside, using its large tusks to gouge them. The boar destroyed anything and everything in its path.
Heracles’s fourth labor from King Eurystheus was to capture the Erymanthian Boar alive, and it was believed to be a near impossible task. Heracles visited Chiron, the centaur who raised Achilles, Asklepios, and Jason, and asked for advice for how to capture the wild boar. Chiron instructed Heracles to drive the boar into the thick snow where it was hard to move. Heracles successfully chased the boar until it tired out in a thicket.
Once he had netted and bound the beast, Heracles carried it all the way back to Mycenae. King Eurystheus was so frightened of the beast that he jumped into a buried pithos jar and begged Heracles to get rid of it. This scene is frequently depicted in paintings on vases.
Heracles threw the beast into the sea, and it saw to Italy. Its tusks were said to be preserved in the Temple of Apollo in Cumae. Three days later, King Eurystheus was still shaking with fear and sent Heracles to complete the fifth labor – to clean the Augean stables, a humiliating and impossible task.
It is believed that the Erymanthian Boar once had an assigned constellation, much like the other beasts that played a part in Heracles’s Twelve Labors.
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