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Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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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 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 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 Birds of Lake Stymphalia
Music: Franz Joseph Haydn
Our hero is sent to deal with some man-eating birds, but cannot reach their lakeside refuge.

A COLONY of birds had once sought refuge from wolves in marshy woods around Lake Stymphalia. Artemis took them for pets, and bred them to be ferocious, with bronze beaks and poisonous dung, and sharp quills they could shoot like darts. Now they ravaged crops, carried off beasts, and devoured townspeople.

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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 Mares of Diomedes
Music: Gustav Holst
Eurystheus pits his cousin against a son of Ares and some man-eating horses.

ARES, the god of war, had a son named Diomedes, lord of the Bistones, a warrior-tribe that lived near Lake Vistonida in Thrace. Down by the sea Diomedes kept a string of savage mares, chained to bronze mangers in which he gave them man’s flesh to eat.

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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...
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Shall. Ought. Hurt.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
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.
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.
Polyword ‘Water’
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
Work out these percentages in your head. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Do you know ‘situation of a golf ball’ (3 letters), and ‘the capital of the State of New York’ (6 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
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History (379)
Fiction (82)

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.

More like this: Longest Word (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic