Hercules undertakes his fifth labour of cleaning the Augean Stables on the latest in a twelve coin series

We’re pretty sure than when Hercules was given his next task, he didn’t think it would involve moving mountains of cow crap. Such is the life of the demi-god, we guess. A stable filled with 3,000 immortal cattle that hadn’t been cleaned out in 30 years sounds a recipe for an unpleasant experience, on a par with cleaning the toilets after the Glastonbury Festival…

Hercules pulled it off, of course, using that time old method of diverting the course of two rivers so they flowed through the stables. Augeus had given Hercules a day to perform the task and promised him 10% of the herd as payment. He welched on paying like any wannabee evil ruler would do, so Hercules offed him. Most Greek legends end with someone pushing up daisies, so no surprise there.

This had to be a difficult thing to depict on a coin, but respect to the artist for pulling it off. The rushing water is well done, as are the animals (the bull to the left of Hercules in particular, is outstanding). There’s plenty of stone column parts in the flood, leading me to think this was more of a cow spa than a stables and that these animals weren’t going to end up in a Big Mac. Every release in this series has a gilded highlight, and this time its a big old piece of marble column that Hercules carries overhead.

The common obverse depicting the twelve labours is also back, this labour picked out with gilding – a nice touch. Indeed, this whole series has been a joy to follow. It has a superb pre-defined theme, consistently high-quality design, an affordable spec (2oz 0.999 silver, rimless, high-relief, antiqued), and a sensible release schedule. It’s boxed with a COA and has a 500 mintage. Hopefully, we’ll see a collectors box to hold all 12 in the next couple of years, something neat and custom. Available to pre-order shortly, it’s distributed by Canadian dealer Coin Shoppe, and European dealer Magikos Coins. Excellent issue. Slaying the Stymphalian Birds is next on the agenda.

THE TWELVE LABOURS OF HERCULES

Hercules was married to Megara, the daughter of King Kreo of Thebes, and together they had five children. Unfortunately, the goddess Hera drove Hercules insane in a fit of jealousy and he killed his wife and children.

Driven mad by Hera (queen of the gods), Hercules slew his son, daughter, and wife Megara. After recovering his sanity, Hercules deeply regretted his actions; he was purified by King Thespius, then traveled to Delphi to inquire how he could atone for his actions. Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi, advised him to go to Tiryns and serve his cousin King Eurystheus for twelve years, performing whatever labours Eurystheus might set him; in return, he would be rewarded with immortality. Hercules despaired at this, loathing to serve a man whom he knew to be far inferior to himself, yet fearing to oppose his father Zeus. Eventually, he placed himself at Eurystheus’s disposal.

Eurystheus originally ordered Hercules to perform ten labours. Hercules accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus refused to recognize two: the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra, as Hercules’ nephew and charioteer Iolaus had helped him; and the cleansing of the Augeas, because Hercules accepted payment for the labour. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Hercules also performed, bringing the total number of tasks to twelve.

01 – Slay the Nemean lion.

02 – Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.

03 – Capture the Ceryneian Hind.

04 – Capture the Erymanthian Boar.

05 – Clean the Augean stables in a single day.

06 – Slay the Stymphalian birds.

07 – Capture the Cretan Bull.

08 – Steal the Mares of Diomedes.

09 – Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta.

10 – Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.

11 – Steal the apples of the Hesperides.

12 – Capture and bring back Cerberus.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $5 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
MINTAGE 500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
MINT OF POLAND