No, no, I’m not referring to the butt of anything.
In honor of this weekend’s release of the fabulous Dwayne Johnson’s rendition of Hercules, today I’m covering The Ceryneian Hind. The Golden Hind: Cerynitis. Herc’s 3rd of his twelve labors…which are really another post that I won’t put up until AFTER the movie is actually released because spoilers are a jerk move.
So, as the tale is told Artemis (Goddess of the hunt, the moon, and all things wild and free) protected five golden hinds. Four hinds faithfully pulled her chariot. The fifth was nowhere to be found.
At the same time, Heracles returned to King Eurystheus having successfully completed his first two Labors, both of which were designed by the King and the Goddess Hera to kill Heracles. Foiled twice, they conspired a Labor that Heracles would likely fail, and if he managed to succeed would draw the wrath of Artemis. He could not win, no matter the outcome of his hunt.
So Eurystheus sent Heracles to capture the Hind alive. Heracles, bound by his word, set off to track and capture the huge doe reported to have golden antlers like a stag and bronze hooves. This proved to be a tough job: Cerynitis could run faster than any arrow, and she eluded Heracles for a full year before he finally trapped her.
The actual way in which he defeated her is varied: some say he shot an arrow between her front legs, tripping her up while she ran. Some say he wrestled her into submission, breaking an antler in the process. Some say he snuck upon her while she slept, others that he caught her in a net, laming her.
In any case, Heracles caught the Hind…and promptly also caught the attention of Artemis. Instead of punishing him, however, Artemis was moved by Heracles’ admiration of the Hind’s beauty and prowess (which implies he did not lame her in any way). Artemis knew why Eurystheus and Hera sent Heracles after her creature, and chose to forgive Heracles the moment he promised to free Cerynitis. Thus he thwarted another Goddess’s anger and saved his demigod skin.
Heracles returned to King Eurystheus with Cerynitis and discovered the King intended to trap the doe in his menagerie. Heracles wasn’t just a musclehead, however, and had a plan. He agreed to turn over the Hind on the condition the King take her from him.
Eurystheus agreed…and the moment Heracles released Cerynitis she was gone, faster than the King or any of his men could possibly follow, running to the safety of her Goddess.
Heracles went on to the next twisted Labor the King and Hera invented, and Cerynitis (contrary to the TV show) did not marry the demigod.
PS: Pronunciation as follows, as far as I’m aware (hey Greek cousins, feel free to weigh in if I’m off here).
Heracles: Hair-a-klees (the Greek name for Hercules)
Cerynitis: Ker-in-I-tis (C in Greek names is pronounced K)