During his second labor–slaying the Hydra–Hercules dips his arrows in the dead monster’s blood. His arrows become super-weapons. The slightest scratch means instant death.
Years later, he finds himself in the cave of Pholus, an old centaur. Although “never trust a centaur” is an adage Hercules usually follows, in Pholus’ case, Hercules decides to stay and dine. He asks for wine along with the meat.
“Oh, no, no, no!” Pholus shakes his head. “I’ve got it, but can’t open it.”
“Why not?” growls Hercules.
“The other centaurs. They’ll smell it. Go mad with the smell of wine. Come here. Kill you.”
“If they try that, they’ll regret it. Besides, they’ll never smell it. Open the wine, Pholus.” As usual, Hercules is traveling with his lion’s skin, his club and his arrows poisoned with Hydra blood.
Scared, Pholus opens the wine and soon the thunder of hoofs approaches the cave. Centaurs charge in and attack Hercules and Pholus cries, “No! Run you fools! It’s Hercules! He’ll kill you all! Run!”
But they’ve gone mad and Hercules reluctantly clubs many to death, and shoots others with his arrows. Astounded that arrows can kill a centaur instantly, Pholus picks one up.
“Don’t touch that, Pholus! It’s Hydra blood!”
Startled, the old centaur drops the arrow and it scratches his leg. He gives Hercules a look he can never forget and then crumples down and dies.
Hercules doesn’t yet know it, but in the end, the blood of the Hydra will kill him, too.
Join Odds Bodkin this coming Sunday, Oct. 18 at 5 pm EST and hear this episode, along with many others, from his award-winning telling, HERCULES IN HELL. The show is live and the storyteller will stay after the show to answer your questions. If you don’t have Zoom, the download is free.
Here’s an audio sample from the show:
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