Heracles’ fourth Labour: the Eymanthian Boar

Drawn for revision of the OCR GCSE Classical Civilisation topic.

Heracles fourth labour, based on the metope from Olympia. Heracles, bedraggled and tired-looking, holds a boar aloft over his head, with a thin tree behind him. He says 'Pig enough for you?'. I am sorry for this pun. King Eurystheus hides in a sunken pithos jar, highly ornate, with his hands outstretched in a 'please no!' gesture. by GMC

Heracles’ fourth Labour from King Eurystheus sends him off to hunt the Eymanthian Boar. This creature was very large, with huge tusks, and was laying waste to the farmlands of Arcadia near Mount Erymanthus, where it made its home.

Heracles had to chase it until it tired, before he could catch it ands tie its legs.

Heracles then carried it back to Eurystheus, who was so scared that he hid in a sunken pithos jar.

See the comic in more detail:

The comic is based on the metope from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, but has additions in order to help students remember both the metope and the story.

An image, sketched, of what the olympian metope would have looked like.
Sketch of the metope (author unknown, from Olympia) as it possibly looked when on the temple (photo taken by me at Museum of Olympia c.2015) – you can see Heracles rests his foot on the pithos, as if he’s going to throw the boar into it.

Authors own photo of the existing pieces of the metope of the fourth labour, from Olympia 2015. LJB
Remaining parts of the carved stone metope from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (photo taken by me at Museum of Olympia c.2015)

This metope guides the eye along Heracles body, up to the Boar over his shoulder, down the boar’s face and to the face and arms of King Eurystheus. The space is filled effectively in this way by the three characters at their different heights. the thin tree on the left brings us in as we ‘read’ the image from left to right.

Heracles is shown lifting the Boar using just his brute strength – he has no club, but only uses his hands and knee to hold the animal tight. However, his cleverness is again suggested by the story in that he tracks the animal and catches it.

NOTE: Heracles isn’t wearing the lion skin or holding the club – his hands are full! – but his interaction with the Boar is famous enough to clarify him as the portrayed character.

In the illustration, I’ve made Heracles look bedraggled and worn to show the toll this feat of strength has taken. I have also modelled the pithos on one I saw in Knossos, Crete, covered in small handles to possibly allow for ropes to be fed through and the pithos be pulled out of the ground after its use was over. I’ve also made Eurystheus look really small, to remind us of how fearful and cowardly he is compared to Heracles, who should have been king in his place.

heracles by greekmythcomix - a lineart drawing of him, older, holding his club over his shoulder. He has a figleaf over his member (hello US audience!) and is carrying his lion skin. He's based on most standing statues of Heracles.

Continue learning about the life of Heracles:

Videos on YouTube

Comix on GMC

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