While I was thinking about Diomedes and his weird horses, I got to thinking…how did he get help dealing with those things? The interview process must have been pretty disturbing, right? Gods alone know how many stablehands they went through every year.

Diomedes, as discussed last week, was a total freak. Not content with power and kingship, the man had to go feeding human flesh to his horses, driving them completely mad and bloodthirsty. No version of the story that I’ve read really gets into why, exactly, he would do this, and I suppose it’s to be expected as it’s really not the point of the tale. What we do know is that Diomedes was a king of Thrace in the stories and that he ruled over a terrifically wild and savage land. As we talked about last time, there’s a running theme with the myths of Heracles’ Twelve Labors and the triumph of civilization and humanity over the natural world. This is simply another example of that particular motif, though it does include a rather brutal reflection of humanity’s own savage nature in the character of Diomedes. After all, the horses he owned didn’t start out hungry for flesh, it was their master’s choice that made them that way and his eventual demise that calmed them.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert, Diomedes dies. Woops.

The manner of his death is of particular significance here. Heracles and Diomedes wrestle one another in my favorite versions of the tale and are fairly evenly matched, due to Diomedes’ own divine heritage, being the son of Ares. Though they are closely matched, Heracles does eventually get the better of Diomedes and drags him closer and closer to the stables where the vicious mares live and eventually tosses him inside. Naturally, the horses do what they’d been trained to do and devour their master. A rather gruesome end to a rather gruesome fellow. It is this act, the consumption of Diomedes that calms the beasts, making them perfectly calm and reasonable from that point on. While some versions of the myth vary in how we get to the horse’s grisly feast, it is always the eventual end of their flesh eating madness. Another victory for Heracles!

Anyway, that’s part two! In the past, I would put all these multi-part comics together in one big comic, usually without lighting and shading and whatnot, but hey, I’m busier now and I’m trying to keep updating regularly without overdoing it at the moment. Maybe we’ll get there again someday. I hope you folks don’t mind too much. It should be a lot easier now to click back and look at the previous comic anyway, what with the fixes to the site.

Stay tuned for part 3 with more Heracles!