e a foe, because, after being devoted for sacrifice, it was spared; the obtaining the girdle of strength; the recovery of the spoil from the three-fold enemy; the gaining of the fruit of life; immediately followed by the victory over the hell-hound of death; and lastly, the attainment of immortality--all seem no fortuitous imagination, but one of those when "thoughts beyond their thoughts to those old bards were given."
I have not followed all these meanings, for this is not an allegory, but a mere distant following rather of the spirit than the letter of the old Greek tale of the Twelve Tasks. Neither have I adhered to every incident of Hercules' life; and the most touching and beautiful of all--the rescue of Alcestis, would hardly bear to come in merely as an episode, in this weak and presumptuous endeavour to show that the half-divine, patient conqueror is not merely a classic invention, but that he and his labours belong in some form or other to all times and all surroundings.
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