Hercules and The Wagoner

A stuck wagoner prays to Hercules for help but receives none.

The gods help those who help themselves.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

A Wagoner was driving a heavy load along a muddy road. He came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels. So the Wagoner threw down his whip, knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong.

“O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress.”

But Hercules appeared to him, and said: “Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.”

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

A Farmer was driving his wagon along a miry country road after a heavy rain. The horses could hardly drag the load through the deep mud, and at last came to a standstill when one of the wheels sank to the hub in a rut.

The farmer climbed down from his seat and stood beside the wagon looking at it but without making the least effort to get it out of the rut. All he did was to curse his bad luck and call loudly on Hercules to come to his aid. Then, it is said, Hercules really did appear, saying:

“Put your shoulder to the wheel, man, and urge on your horses. Do you think you can move the wagon by simply looking at it and whining about it? Hercules will not help unless you make some effort to help yourself.”

And when the farmer put his shoulder to the wheel and urged on the horses, the wagon moved very readily, and soon the Farmer was riding along in great content and with a good lesson learned.

Moral

Self help is the best help.

Heaven helps those who help themselves.

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor (The Clown Praying to Hercules)

Taylor - Clown Praying to Hercules 0031AN ancient Roman, you must know,
(I think his name was Cicero,)
Wishing to make his garden smarter,
Bespoke some gravel of a carter;
But that had many miles to come,
To reach his seat at Tusculum;
And then, beside all this, the way
Was quite knee-deep in miry clay;
The horse was lame, the cart was crazy,
And, worse than all, the man was lazy.
If so, you’ll say, I am afraid
That Tully’s job will be delay’d.
Exactly so; the cart at length
Was fix’d beyond the horse’s strength:
In vain the driver groan’d and grumbled,
Down in the mud all-fours he tumbled,
And there for near an hour he lay;
Thought he, “to Hercules I’ll pray,
And this, I think, will do to say:

“‘O thou, who wrench’d the lion’s jaws,
Regardless of his teeth and claws;
Who drown’d the Hydra (if I’m right),
And Cerberus didst drag to light;
Who flung the boar, and toss’d the bull
Over thy shoulders, with a pull;
Captured the oxen; Geryon slew,
And Diomedes vanquish’d too;
Who caught the stag that ran so fast,
And shot those birds of prey at last;
Who conquer’d those great Amazons,
And all the stables cleansed at once
(Two thousand of them); and, I’m told,
Procured the apples made of gold.
O Hercules! so strong thou art,
Sure thou canst move this horse and cart.'”

Scarce had he ceased, when rolling thunder
Surprised this man with fear and wonder;
Then straight before his eyes he sees
No less a form than Hercules,
Who soon began in words like these:

“You impious, idle, lazy fellow!
How long will you lie there and bellow?
Disturbing my immortal neighbours,
With that long rig-me-roll of labours!
Think you, I’ll help you with your load,
While you lie sprawling on the road?
Apply your shoulders to the wheel,
Nor idly thus before me kneel;
Then, should the task too mighty prove,
I may assist you with a shove;
But those who indolent remain
May roar for help, but roar in vain.”


This is the moral of the fable,—
To help yourself if you are able.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A carter was driving a wagon along a country lane, when the wheels sank down deep into a rut. The rustic driver, stupefied and aghast, stood looking at the wagon, and did nothing but utter loud cries to Hercules to come and help him. Hercules, it is said, appeared and thus addressed him: “Put your shoulders to the wheels, my man. Goad on your bullocks, and never more pray to me for help, until you have done your best to help yourself, or depend upon it you will henceforth pray in vain.”

Moral

Self-help is the best help.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

As a Wagoner was driving his wain through a miry lane, the wheels stuck fast in the clay, and the Horses could get on no further. The Man dropped on his knees, and began crying and praying to Hercules with all his might to come and help him. “Lazy fellow!” said Hercules, “get up and stir yourself. Whip your Horses stoutly, and put your shoulder to the wheel. If you want my help then, you shall have it.”

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual

 

Hercules and Wagoner

When the God saw the Waggoner kneel,
Crying, “Hercules! Lift me my wheel
From the bun, where ’tis stuck!”
He laughed – “No such luck;
Set your shoulder yourself to the wheel.”

The Gods help those who help themselves.

1001Hercules et Rusticus

Rustici aratrum haeret in profundo luto. Mox prostratus, Herculem implorat, cum statim vox a caelo auditur: “Inepte, flagellato equos et ipse totis viribus umerisque annitere rotis! Et deinde Herculem invocato! Tunc enim tibi propitius Hercules aderit.”

Moral

Fabula innuit quod otiosa vota nihil prosunt; iuva temet, et ipse te adiuvabit Deus.

Perry #291