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In Greek mythology, Augeas (or Augeias), whose name means "bright", was King of Elis and husband of Epicaste. He is best known for his stables, which housed the single greatest number of cattle in the country and had never been cleaned until the great hero Heracles came along.

Heracles' fifth labour

The fifth of the Twelve Labours set to Heracles was to clean the Augean stables in a single day. The reasoning behind this being set was twofold: firstly, all the previous labours only exalted Heracles in eyes of the people so this one would surely degrade him; secondly, the amount of dirt amassed in the uncleaned stable made the task surely impossible. However, Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash the filth out.

Augeas was irate because he had promised Heracles one-tenth of his cattle if the job was finished in one day. He refused to honour the agreement, and Heracles killed him after having completed the tasks and gave his kingdom to Augeas' son, Phyleus, who had been exiled for supporting Heracles against his father.

According to the Odes of the poet Pindar, Heracles then founded the Olympic Games:-

the games which by the ancient tomb of Pelops the mighty Heracles founded, after that he slew Kleatos, Poseidon's goodly son, and slew also Eurytos, that he might wrest from tyrannous Augeas against his will reward for service done. [1]

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