Ovid, Fasti 1. 543 ff
Look, here comes the club-carrying hero driving Erythea’s cows on his long world journey. And while he is hosted in the Tegean house, cattle roam unguarded through broad acres. It was morning: the acting herder from Tiryns jolts from sleep and counts two bulls missing. He searches, but sees no tracks from the silent theft; Cacus had dragged them backward to his cave, savage Cacus, the Aventine wood’s terror and shame, no light problem for neighbours and guests. His face was grim, his strength matched his body, his body huge: this monster’s father was Mulciber. A vast labyrinthine cavern served as his house, remote: even beasts could barely find it. Faces and limbs hang nailed above the doorposts; the filthy ground blanches with men’s bones. Jupiter’s son was leaving with part of the herd lost; the plunder bellowed raucously. ‘I welcome the recall,’ he shouts. The avenger tracks the sound through the woods to the impious lair. Cacus had blocked the entrance with a barricade of rock; scarcely ten ox-teams could have shifted it. Heaving with his shoulders (heaven once rested there), Hercules moves and topples the huge mass. The crash of its dislodgement dismayed heaven itself; the battered earth sank beneath the bulk’s weight. Cacus at first fights hand to hand and skirmishes ferociously with boulders and trees. When this does nothing, he resorts unbravely to his father’s arts, and retches roaring flame. You would think every blast was Typhoeus’ breath, a bolt of lightning hurled from Etna’s fire. Alcides grabs him, and sinks the tri-knotted club three or four times in the other man’s face. He collapses and vomits smoke mingled with blood, and hits the ground, dying, with his broad chest. The victor sacrifices one bull to you, Jove, and calls Evander and the country folk. He set up an altar to himself called ‘Maxima’ in the city district named from the cattle.


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