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The Labors of Hercules - Labor V

The Slaying of the Nemean Lion
(Leo, July 22nd- August 21st)

The Myth

The great Presiding One sat within the Council Chamber of the Lord and there discussed the plan of God for all the sons of men, who are the sons of God. The Teacher stood at his right hand and listened to his words. And Hercules rested from his labors.
And the great Presiding One, within the Council Chamber of the Lord, watched the tired warrior rest and watched his thoughts. He said then to the Teacher who stood close to his hand within the Council Chamber of the Lord: "The time for a dread labor now draws near. This man, who is a son of man and yet a son of God, must be prepared. Let him look well unto the weapons that he owns and let him burnish bright his shield, and dip his arrows in a lethal brew, for dire and dread is the labor just ahead. Let him prepare."
But Hercules, resting from his labors, wot not the trial which lay just ahead. He felt his courage strong. He rested from his labors, and time and time again, past the fourth Gate he chased the sacred doe clear to the temple of the Lord. Time came wherein the timid hind knew well the hunter who pursued her, and gently came at his command. Thus time and time again, he placed the doe upon his heart and sought the temple of the Lord. Thus rested he.
Before the fifth great Gate stood Hercules, armed to the teeth with all the gifts of war and warriors, and as he stood the watching gods marked his firm step, his eager eye, his ready hand. But deep within his heart was questioning. [96]
"What do I here?" he said. "What is the test and wherefore do I seek to pass this Gate?" and speaking thus he waited, listening for a voice. "What do I here, O Teacher of my life, armed, as you see, with the full panoply of war? What do I here?"

"A call has sounded forth, O Hercules, a call of deep distress. Your outer ears have not responded to that call, and yet the inner ear knows well the need, for it hath heard a voice, aye, many voices, telling you of need and urging you to venture forth. The people of Nemea seek your aid. They are in deep distress. Word of your prowess has gone forth. They seek that you should kill the lion that devastates their land, taking its toll of men."
"Is that the savage sound I hear?" asked Hercules. "Is it the roaring of a lion I hear, upon the evening air?" The Teacher said: "Go, seek the lion which ravages the land lying upon the further side of the fifth Gate. The people of this ravaged land live silently behind locked doors. Forth to their tasks they venture not, nor till their land, nor sow. From north to south, from east to west the lion prowls and prowling seizes all who cross his path. His shocking roar is heard throughout the night and all are trembling behind locked doors. What will you do, O Hercules? What will you do?"
And Hercules, with listening ear, responded to the need. Upon the nearer side of the great Gate which guarded firm the country of Nemea, he dropped the panoply of war, retaining for his use the club, cut by his hands from a young and springing tree. "What do you now, O son of man, who are likewise a son of God? Where are your arms and where your strong defence?" "This fine array of arms but loads me down, retards my speed and hinders my departure on the Way. I shall require naught but my stalwart club, and with this club and my stout heart, I go upon my way to seek the lion. Send word unto the people of Nemea that I go upon the Way, and bid them cast out fear." [97]

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