The Erymanthian Boar

The fourth of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

The Erymanthian boar. This animal, which Heracles was ordered to bring alive, had descended from Mount Erymanthus (according to others, from Mount Lampe) into Psophis. Heracles chased him through the deep snow, and having thus worn him out, he caught him in a net, and carried him to Mycenae.1 Other traditions place the hunt of the Erymanthian boar in Thessaly, and some even in Phrygia.2

It must be observed that this and subsequent labors of Heracles are connected with other subordinate ones, called Parerga (Πάρεργα), and the first of these parerga is the fight of Heracles with the centaurs; for it is said that in his pursuit of the boar he came to the centaur Pholus, who had received from Dionysus a cask of excellent wine. Heracles opened it, contrary to the wish of his host, and the delicious fragrance attracted the other centaurs, who besieged the grotto of Pholus. Heracles drove them away: they fled to the house of Chiron, and Heracles, eager in his pursuit, wounded Chiron, his old friend. Heracles was deeply grieved, and tried to save Chiron; but in vain, for the wound was fatal. As, however, Chiron was immortal, and could not die, he prayed to Zeus to take away his immortality, and give it to Prometheus. Thus Chiron was delivered of his burning pain, and died.

Pholus, too, was wounded by one of the arrows, which by accident fell on his foot and killed him. This fight with the centaurs gave rise to the establishment of mysteries, by which Demeter intended to purify the hero from the blood he had shed against his own will.

Previous labor: The Ceryneian Stag.
Next labor: The Augean Stables.



  1. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.4; Diodorus Siculus, iv, 12.
  2. Euripides. Hercules Furens, 368; Hyginus. Fabulae, 30.


  • Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica i, 127.
  • Diodorus Siculus, iv, 14.
  • Euripides. Hercules Furens, 364 ff.
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses ix, 192.
  • Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 24.2.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.4.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
  • Theocritus, vii, 150.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.