Labour 7: The Capture of the Erymanthian Boar
As the power of Libra passes through Hercules, he is instructed to “Go forth and capture the wild boar; salvage a ravaged country, yet take the time to eat”. To aid him, Apollo gives Hercules a brand-new bow to use, but remembering the slaughter he had committed in his last task in Virgo, he leaves it behind and proceeds unarmed except for his trusty club. In his search for the boar, Hercules comes upon his friend, Pholos, one of a group of centaurs who invites him to share a cask of wine, both of them calling to another centaur, Cherion, to join them. The noise of the ensuing revelry alerts the other centaurs who are incensed, because the Gods had given them the wine to be partaken of only when all the centaurs were present. This results in a fierce battle and again Hercules kills, this time the friends with whom he had drunk. Hercules escapes to the mountains and renews his search for the wild boar.
As the boar proves difficult to track, Hercules sets a snare and lays in waiting. After long hours, the boar finally comes his way and is captured. Hercules wrestles and tames the fierce beast and, seizing its two hind legs, drives it before him down the snowy mountain slope on its two front legs, laughing, singing and dancing on his way. Those who see the two of them descending the mountain join in the laughter, for it is a bizarre and comical sight.
Interpretation of the myth:
The scales of balance are the symbol of Libra, indicating that the spiritual path is not trodden through extremes of any kind but by the middle path, as taught by the Buddha.
Though Hercules is told to take time to eat, he indulges in drunken revelry instead, and slaughter, as in Virgo, is again the result. Pholos and Cherion, the two centaur friends that Hercules kills, represent “bodily strength” and good thought” respectively, both of which are insufficient to control the wild boar, symbol of the desire nature in this labour. Instead, desire is to be transmuted and controlled at spiritual altitude, as is the boar in the high mountain peaks.
Hercules makes amends for his earlier mistake in this labour by skilfully capturing and taming, rather than killing the wild boar. He then drives it before him, like a wheelbarrow, balanced on its two front legs to the amusement of all. Mercy, justice and balance are all represented here, as well as the wonderful transmuting agent of humour that restores a balanced perspective to life when the scales have tipped too far to one side. And so, in Libra the wise and considered use of energy is learnt, resulting in the attributes of discrimination, justice, mercy and, of course, humour.
Keynote of Libra:
Personality Aspect: Let choice be made.
Soul Aspect: I choose the way which leads between the two great lines of force.