Augeas

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In Greek mythology, Augeas (or Augeias, Greek: Ἀυγείας), whose name means "bright", was king of Elis and husband of Epicaste. Some say that Augeas was one of the Argonauts.[1]

He is best known for his stables, which housed the single greatest number of cattle in the country and had never been cleaned — until the time of the great hero Heracles.

Augeas' lineage varies in the sources—he was said to be either the son of Helius and Nausidame,[2] or of Eleios, king of Elis and Nausidame,[3] or of Poseidon,[4] or of Phorbas.[5] His children were Epicasta, Phyleus, Agamede (who was the mother of Dictys by Poseidon),[6] Agasthenes, and Eurytus.

The Fifth Labour of Heracles

The fifth of Labour of Heracles was to clean the Augean stables. This assignment was intended to be both humiliating (rather than impressive, as had the previous labours) and impossible, since the livestock were divinely healthy (immortal) and therefore produced an enormous quantity of dung. These stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there. However, Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth.

Augeas was irate because he had promised Heracles one tenth of his cattle if the job was finished in one day. He refused to honour the agreement, and Heracles killed him after completing the tasks. Heracles gave his kingdom to Augeas' son Phyleus, who had been exiled for supporting Heracles against his father.

According to the Odes of the poet Pindar, Heracles then founded the Olympic Games:

The success of this labour was ultimately discounted because the rushing waters had done the work of cleaning the stables and because Heracles was paid. Eurystheus, stating that Heracles still had six Labours to do, then sent Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds.

References

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