The Mares of Diomedes

The eighth of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

This Diomedes, king of the Bistones in Thrace, fed his horses with human flesh, and Eurystheus now ordered Heracles to fetch those animals to Mycenae. For this purpose, the hero took with him some companions. He made an unexpected attack on those who guarded the horses in their stables, took the animals, and conducted them to the sea coast. But here he was overtaken by the Bistones, and during the ensuing fight he entrusted the mares to his friend Abderus, a son of Hermes of Opus, who was eaten up by them; but Heracles defeated the Bistones, killed Diomedes, whose body he threw before the mares, built the town of Abdera, in honor of his unfortunate friend, and then returned to Mycenae, with the horses which had become tame after eating the flesh of their master. The horses were afterwards set free, and destroyed on Mount Olympus by wild beasts.

Previous labor: The Cretan Bull.
Next labor: The Girdle of Hippolyte.



  • Diodorus Siculus, iv, 15.
  • Euripides. Alcestes, 483, 493; Hercules Furens, 380 ff.
  • Gellius, iii, 9.
  • Hyginus. Fabulae, 30.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.8.
  • Ptolemaeus Hephaestus, 5.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

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