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English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Heracles and the Cattle of Geryon
two-part story
Music: Francesco Geminiani
Heracles must get the better of a three-bodied giant and steal his cattle.

ON the tiny island of Cadiz at the southern tip of Spain there lived a herd of magnificent red cattle, guarded by a herdsman named Eurytion and his two-headed dog, Orthrus, brother of Cerberus. Their master was Geryon, a giant with three heads and bodies, joined at the hip, and Eurystheus ordered Heracles to steal his entire herd.

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Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar
Music: George Frideric Handel
Snaring a wild boar turns out to be much less dangerous than keeping centaurs away from their wine.

AFTER the fiasco of the Cerynaean Hind, Eurystheus abandoned subtlety and went back to basics with the rampaging wild boar of the snow-capped Erymanthus Mountains. Heracles was ordered to bring him back alive, ideally coming to grief in the attempt.

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Heracles and the Augean Stables
Music: John Playford
Heracles shows his capacity for thinking outside the box, but spoils it by trying to be just a little bit too clever.

AUGEAS, King of Elis, had kept three thousand high-spirited cattle in an enclosure near his palace for thirty years without once mucking them out, even though they were of divine race and produced mountains of potent dung.

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Heracles and the Cerynaean Hind
Music: Richard Jones
Eurystheus sends his cousin on another labour, this time hoping the task is too delicate for the big man.

EURYSTHEUS scolded Heracles for soliciting the help of Iolaus against the Hydra, and declared the Second Labour void.

He now realised, however, that Heracles could kill any monster, so this time he commanded him to bring back, alive, a delicate, fleet-footed hind from Cerynaea, for his own private collection.

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Heracles and the Nemean Lion
Music: George Frideric Handel
Sending a hero off to ‘certain death’ never seems to work out...

IT was Hera who sent two snakes to devour Heracles in his cot, but he strangled them with his bare hands.

And it was Hera who induced a fit of madness in Heracles so great, that he slew his wife and six children.

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Heracles and the Girdle of Hippolyte
two-part story
Music: George Frideric Handel
A princess covets the belt of a warrior-queen, so Heracles is despatched to get it for her.

ONE day, Eurystheus’s daughter Admete expressed a fancy for the girdle of Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons, a formidable tribe of female warriors who cast off their sons and raised their daughters like men. The doting Eurystheus at once sent Heracles to fetch it from Themiscyra, on the southern shores of the Black Sea.

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Heracles and the Hydra
Music: Muzio Clementi
The Greek hero thinks he has paid off more of his debt to the gods, but an unpleasant surprise awaits him.

THE second Labour appointed for Heracles seemed as hopeless as the first.

The Hydra, a serpent with nine heads, was causing havoc among the farms neighbouring the marsh of Lerna, and Heracles was to kill it.

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Tagged Twelve Labours of Heracles (10 posts)
page 1
1 Heracles and the Cattle of Geryon
Heracles must get the better of a three-bodied giant and steal his cattle.
2 Heracles and the Girdle of Hippolyte
A princess covets the belt of a warrior-queen, so Heracles is despatched to get it for her.
3 Heracles and the Mares of Diomedes
Eurystheus pits his cousin against a son of Ares and some man-eating horses.
4 Heracles and the Cretan Bull
Heracles seems to be the only one who can keep Poseidon’s rampaging white bull under control.
5 Heracles and the Birds of Lake Stymphalia
Our hero is sent to deal with some man-eating birds, but cannot reach their lakeside refuge.
6 Heracles and the Augean Stables
Heracles shows his capacity for thinking outside the box, but spoils it by trying to be just a little bit too clever.
page 2
7 Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar
Snaring a wild boar turns out to be much less dangerous than keeping centaurs away from their wine.
8 Heracles and the Cerynaean Hind
Eurystheus sends his cousin on another labour, this time hoping the task is too delicate for the big man.
9 Heracles and the Hydra
The Greek hero thinks he has paid off more of his debt to the gods, but an unpleasant surprise awaits him.
10 Heracles and the Nemean Lion
Sending a hero off to ‘certain death’ never seems to work out...

Word Play: Adjectives

New Stories
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
New Puzzles
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Once’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Try writing complete sentences using these adjectives in the predicative position.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SWORD and finish with PEACE.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with LESS and finish with MORE.
Do you know ‘cowardly’ (6 letters), and ‘historic Greek victory in 479 BC’ (7 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic