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This article is about the figure in Greek mythology. For the configuration management library, see Augeas (software).

In Greek mythology, Augeas (or Augeias, /ɔːˈəs/, Greek: Αὐγείας), whose name means "bright", was king of Elis and father of Epicaste. Some say that Augeas was one of the Argonauts.[1]

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 time of the great hero Heracles.

Augeas's lineage varies in the sources—he was said to be either the son of Helios and Nausidame,[2] or of Eleios, king of Elis, and Nausidame,[3] or of Poseidon,[4] or of Phorbas and Hyrmine.[5] His children were Epicaste, Phyleus, Agamede (who was the mother of Dictys by Poseidon),[6] Agasthenes, and Eurytus.

Fifth Labour of Heracles[edit]

Heracles rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus, to clean out the Augean stables. Roman mosaic, 3rd century AD.

The fifth Labour of Heracles (Hercules in Latin) was to clean the Augean (/ɔːˈən/) stables. Eurystheus intended this assignment both as humiliating (rather than impressive, like the previous labours) and as impossible, since the livestock were divinely healthy (immortal) and therefore produced an enormous quantity of dung (ἡ ὄνθος). These stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there. However, Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth.

Augeas reacted angrily 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 completing the tasks. Heracles gave his kingdom to Phyleus, Augeas' son, who had been exiled for supporting Heracles against his father.

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

Eurystheus discounted the success of this labour because the rushing waters had done the work of cleaning the stables and because Heracles was paid. Stating that Heracles still had seven labours to do, Eurystheus then sent Heracles to defeat the Stymphalian Birds.


  1. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae, 14.
  2. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae, 14.
  3. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 5.1.9.
  4. ^ Bibliotheca 2.88.
  5. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library, 2.88.
  6. ^ Hyginus. Fabulae, 157.
  7. ^ Pindar. The Extant Odes of Pindar, Project Gutenberg.