Hercules Doesn't Give Second Chances

Julia Weidmer |

Last Words of a Mythical Beast



[This essay won the Greece Prize in the 2020 Paideia Institute High School Essay Contest. The author has won a full scholarship to the Living Greek in Greece High School program. She is hoping to attend the program in 2021, when it is hoped that the program will be able to run more or less as usual in Greece. A new Greek high school program has been substituted for summer 2020: Living Greek Online High School. Applications for this new program are due June 1st.]

My hooves pound the ground as I bound towards the city. I know my purpose. I will tear it down. I am strong, I am invincible, I am fearsome, and I am sacred to the lovely goddess of the hunt, Artemis. I wake each day ready to come down from the mountain I call home and take on anything that gets in my way. I am always eager to attack any animal or man that crosses my path, leaving them with gashes from my sharp tusks. Most mornings are the same for me, full of causing absolute destruction to everything that surrounds me. The feeling of pleasure fills my body.

This morning something feels off, I am filled with a slight feeling of uneasiness. I try to let this feeling go, but it keeps lingering. Finally, the feeling seems to have disappeared. Ah, the feeling of peacefulness is back in my body. Now I am able to continue on with my life. A celebratory stomp and snort are a must, and now I must hunt some food. I am starving!

Suddenly, I am aware of something approaching. It sounds like a being of some sort, but I can’t really tell what. Maybe it is a man. Yes, it is! He’s… he’s screaming… at me. I don’t know who it is and I don’t desire to look. I have no energy due to the low amount of food I have consumed today. What am I supposed to do now? I can’t give up. I do not know what to do. Should I run? Should I hide? I guess I’ll run. It feels like my legs are flying through the air, and my hooves sound like a horse stampede. This man won’t stop chasing after me and shouting at me. My mind is racing like lightning and I am beginning to run out of breath, this isn’t good. Why am I so scared of him? I destroy men like him all the time. Ah! I must keep going, but my body seems to be running out of gas. I cannot run any farther, but I really do not want to be captured by this man. I see some bushes ahead, maybe I can make it to them.

I have made it. I am inside the bushes, I think I have finally lost the man. I am shaking and my body is full of fear, I really hope I am safe. Uh-oh, I hear steps against the rugged ground. I can feel the breathing of this mysterious being outside the bush. He is so close to me, I am terrified of what he is planning to do. The bush is moving, is he coming in? Something sharp is coming through the bush and is pointed right at me. I guess it’s time to run again. I am up and once more on the move, and the fierce being is following closely behind. At this point, I am running for dear life. The being won’t back down. I really don’t understand why he is so determined to capture me. I am running as fast as I can, but I don’t know if it will be enough. Oh no, he’s catching up and I don’t have any idea what is ahead of me. I’m losing momentum. I see something white up ahead, I wonder what it is. Ah, now I realize what it is and this isn’t looking good. Snow. Crisp white snow. I don’t think I am going to win this fight. My hooves have become submerged in the ice-cold, crunchy snow. I can feel the breath of the being on my back. Looks like I have let down my mountain, and more importantly the amazing goddess, Artemis.

A net has surrounded my timid body. This is it, I have been captured. I have been placed on this giant man’s shoulders. I am being carried to a place, but I don’t know where. I wonder where he is taking me. Why did he want me in the first place? I thought I was a favorite among the gods. Now I know who this strong-willed being is. He is none other than the great Hercules. He has taken me to Mycenae to see King Eurystheus. I am Hercules’ fourth labor of twelve he had been ordered to fulfill by Eurystheus.

I have been brought to King Eurystheus, but he seems a bit uneasy now that I am here. I thought he wanted Hercules to bring me, “the Erymanthian boar”, to him alive. I am so confused as to why he is acting so hesitant and scared around me. He’s talking to Hercules now. What is he saying? Is he talking about me? Hercules is heading my way now. Turns out that King Eurystheus is afraid of me. What? Hercules has to take me somewhere else and I am a bit nervous.

Where could he be taking me? I see the glistening sea ahead. Maybe we’re going for a swim. Hercules is lifting me up again, I don’t like this at all. His hands have gripped my ankles. What is he doing with me? I think he is about to launch me into the scary sea. Ah, I am terrified! He has launched me into the air. I am headed into the sea. Well, I guess this is it. I recall the feeling of my hooves on the ground and my triumph over the villages. My life has been good. Tartarus is calling me, and I will answer.

Julia Caroline Wiedmer is a sophomore at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a devoted University of Kentucky fan, and a basketball junkie. She is one of the winners of the 2020 Paideia Institute High School Essay Contest.


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