the Ceryneian Hind was an enormous deer who lived in Keryneia, Greece. It was sacred to Artemis, the chaste goddess of the hunt, animals and unmarried women. It had golden antlers like a stag and hooves of bronze or brass, and it was said that it could outrun an arrow in flight.
dead son, the sacrifice,
the impenetrable fur soft as a blade,
the arrow inside the animal’s open
mouth, a clever sort of trick
alternatively: the dark cave,
how stunning you were, this strange
dance with death, how i worried you
i couldn’t enter the city where i
loved you, but i made many offers
outside its gates
2. THE LERNEAN HYDRA:
how you hissed at me, spoke in many
tongues, the flowering of your many
cutting each other down, cauterizing
our wounds & then
your likeness - placed high above me
in the sky so even in your death you
are looking down on me
3. CERYNEIAN HIND:
in a dream you ran & i tried to
catch you; in a field, while you slept,
bathing at a river. i broke your leg so
you couldn’t leave me & then was
too afraid to touch you. in this dream
i chased you for a year & when i
woke remembered i hadn’t seen you
in just as long. in my dream the gods
forgave me for everything, for all the
things i can’t atone for awake.
4. ERYMANTHIAN BOAR:
drunk & violent animals, drunk &
poisoned arrows, a pain so great
you would give up
This huge deer is larger than a bul, fast enough to outrun an arrow, and has bronze hooves and golden antlers. Sacred to Artemis, it is named for Mount Cerynea.
In one version, Hercules is tasked to capture the animal for the king. He lames the Ceryneian when it stopped for a drink, using a poisoned arrow. After completing his mission Hercules releases it, so that it may return to Artemis.
Hunting wasn’t terribly interesting to Gabriel. Lucifer, his older brother, insisted on teaching him though. Not for food, no, they were Athens, a higher class than Metrics (the middle Class) or the Freemen (Lower Class). They hunted for the sport of it. Being a slayer of beasts was always Lucifer’s thing. Michael was content to map out war strategies for his armies, and Raphael liked to organize the people. Gabriel, on the other hand, had a habit of getting into trouble. It wasn’t exactly a practical use of time, but it was usually what happened. So, Gabriel trailed after Lucifer, who was not only decked out in his usual chiton tunic but had his chest plate armor on, in case he came across something formidable like a lion, or perhaps (it would be to Lucifer’s great joy to find) a chimera. Anything ‘worthy’ would do for him. Gabriel had his bow and quiver strapped on his back, over his chiton, which was a dark purple and the edging was yellow, mimicking a wing like pattern. He left his himation cloak at home, because it was warm and he didn’t feel like lugging it around. His boots made satisfying crunching noises on the forest floor. Lucifer had just taken off over a hill, into the grasslands and Gabriel was in no hurry to follow him. He stopped by a large tree and smiled, wondering how long it would take Lucifer to figure out that he’d ditched his hunting lesson; again.
Gabriel’s eye caught a glint in the forest light and he turned his head. Maybe 10 yards away was a striking stag, and the glint was from the golden rack upon his head. Gabriel stared and held his breath. The stag was staring right back. He was a huge specimen, as large, or larger than a bull. Maybe as big as a horse. The stag held so still; still enough that Gabriel could count the points on his head, which was 24, and a perfectly even rack if he ever did admire his brother’s collection of trophies. The stag’s ears flickered and a tongue darted out to lick his nose. Gabriel smiled, it was insanely cute for such a huge animal. The stag’s bust was heavily furred with thick brown hair and the rest of its body was white. Then it’s hoof clawed the ground and a glint of bronze could be seen among the foliage.
It took several steps towards him and Gabriel grew nervous; stags could be dangerous when rutting, but it was clearly spring, so he should have been a skiddish one if he could actually see Gabriel. He stopped out of Gabriel’s reach and started to make a low grunting noise at him. Gabriel was caught off guard and chuckled at the noise, which made the stag stop and his ears perked up to listen to Gabriel.
Gabriel had never had the urge to actually hunt, but he did have a sudden swell to catch the creature. He didn’t know why, perhaps it was the glinting of gold whenever the beast moved its head. He did remember that he had a bow and he was out there to hunt. He slowly reached for the bow on his back and the stag tensed up, as though bracing himself. It was odd, as though the stag wanted Gabriel to shoot it.
“Do you have a death sentence or something, kiddo?” Gabriel notched an arrow in the string and slowly pulled it tight. But as he moved it up to take aim, the stag moved and the last thing Gabriel saw was the underside of a tail as the stag darted between the trees.
Gabriel sighed and let the bow go slack. He was actually a little relieved; it was a pretty deer. It would have been a shame to put him down.
Lucifer came and found him eventually, but Gabriel had long started to head home before his brother was done with his own hunt.
“I almost had a lion,” Lucifer complained as they sat with wine at the gathering table. The slaves had put out food and their goblets were never empty. “Cowardly thing ran off.”
“It must have seen your face,” Michael sneered, earning him a leer from Lucifer. Gabriel rolled his eyes and slid down in his lounging chair, feeling another argument coming on. Gatherings and alcohol seemed to bring out the worst in both his older brothers.
“Then it must know my reputation,” Lucifer continued. “Lucifer the Lion Killer.” Michael rolled his eyes.
“Killing lions is easy.” Michael looked absolutely bored with the concept of killing beasts; it only fueled Lucifer’s anger. “Commanding armies. Dominating kingdoms. That is where pride lies.” Raphael was intelligently staying out of the argument, writing on his scroll and drinking from his goblet. Probably finding new ways to control the people with laws.
“I saw a stag with golden horns today,” Gabriel said, in a half-hearted attempt to break up the beginning of a fight. Lucifer’s attention was drawn from making another sharp tongue remark as he sat up more, staring at Gabriel.
“You saw a Ceryneian Hind?” He asked.
“Yeah, if you want to call it that.” Gabriel sat up in his lounging chair and waggled his cup so the slave would see he needed more.
“Isn’t that one of Artemis’ sacred beasts?” Michael said, seeming to rack his brain with his knowledge of the gods.
“You couldn’t have possibly seen one,” Lucifer scoffed after a moment’s thought. “It was probably a deer you just saw. It’s not even Autumn.”
“I did though.” Gabriel nodded when his cup was filled and became more attentive since it was breaking the monotony of fighting; if only for a moment. “It’s rack had twenty four golden points, and his hooves were brazened. And when I aimed my arrow at it, it was gone in the blink of an eye.” Lucifer and Michael sat amazed for a moment before Raphael lifted his head, a half drunken tone to his voice.
“Are you telling another one of your tall tales again, Gabriel?” he asked.
“No, I’m not, thank you.” Gabriel sipped from his cup. “It came right up to me and grunted.”
Lucifer scoffed, “Now I know you’re lying. You’d better watch your tongue, Gabriel. If you end up telling that lie to a god, you’re sure to be turned into a stag yourself.”
Gabriel rolled his eyes and found them eternally frustrating. “Maybe I’ll see it again.” They more or less dismissed him with the rolling of Raphael’s eyes and the sighs that Michael and Lucifer let out.
The mention of the stag didn’t even quell their arguing for 5 minutes before Michael gave Lucifer another underhanded comment about making up for his prowess in bed in his hunting. That evening ended with broken plates and soiled wine.
Gabriel gladly escaped into the woods again the next morning, with a few apples and bread down the front of his chiton for later snacking. He brought his bow and quiver, not for hunting, but protection. One never knew when they’d come across a fierce beast. But he’d rather run into a pride of lions than listen to his brothers continue their bickering. It was always getting worse since their father, the King, died 5 years prior.
Gabriel climbed a pile of rocks in the forest and crouched at the top. He bit down on his apple and looked around the area. He’d been looking for a good half hour for the glint of golden horns, but so far, no luck.
“Maybe I scared it off.” He sat, his boots digging into the granite. It could have been a fluke, he thought. After all, how was he supposed to judge the action of a goddess’ sacred deer?
He stopped chewing when he heard the sound of soft grunting. It took a moment of scouring the forest floor, and he did see the gold and white against the grass. The stag was staring right at him again, ear flicking and standing as though he knew he was a majestic, elusive creature. Gabriel raised a brow and continued to chew his apple slowly. The stag walked up to the pile of boulders and huffed at him, as though annoyed with him.
“What?” Gabriel asked and waved half of his apple at him. “You hungry?” The stag just huffed several more times and knocked its antlers into a young tree, completely stripping it of it’s new green foliage. Gabriel blinked at the confusing creature and he decided to climb down; though approaching an annoyed stag was not usually a smart idea. Gabriel still had the small nagging in his mind to catch the creature. As he reached the ground the stripping of the tree stopped and the stag gingerly moved towards him on those shiny bronze toes.
On a whim, Gabriel stuck the apple back in his mouth to pull out the small palm sized loaf of bread he’d taken. He broke off a quarter and held it out to the stag. He had to lean down a couple inches before he gently took it from Gabriel’s fingers and chewed.
“Thanks for not being a finger bitter,” Gabriel said. He balanced the apple and bread in hand as he sampled the still warm center of the loaf for himself. The stag huffed and grunted at him again, and then started to nibbled at Gabriel’s hair. “Hey, hey, I need that. Easy there.” His hand landed on the stag’s wet nose and he felt a snort of warm breath on his hand. “Gross, stag snot.” Despite himself, Gabriel smiled and wiped his hand on the stag’s thick brown fur before he got a good look at the deer’s eyes. Normally Gabriel found deer eyes to be nearly black, sort of soulless, but this stag had a flickering of white around its brown, and nearly green, irises. It gave him a nearly human quality. Gabriel’s eyes flickered up to the golden antlers and the stag gave another soft grunt, focusing those eyes on Gabriel.
“Never thought I’d think of someone giving me doe eyes like this.” Gabriel offered the stag another piece of bread, which he took and Gabriel reached to touch the gold antlers, like his mind suggested he do. But as he was going to feel the slender gold, it was gone. The stag had turned and fled between the trees once more. Gabriel frowned and snapped his fingers. He was so close. He sighed and crunched down on his apple, thinking. He decided to devise a plan over the night.
Gabriel really wasn’t a hunter, but for a few hours, while carving notches into sticks of wood, he wondered if it was the mentality that Lucifer got when he was hunting lions. He really didn’t want to kill the stag, lest he be witness to Artemis’ wrath, but a tiny thought to grab the golden antlers haunted him. Just for a moment. Maybe he wanted to see if they were real gold. Were they cold like metal, or warm from being in the sun? The stag hadn’t tried to harm him, he just kept running away at the last moment.
So, early in the morning, he grabbed several loaves of bread -much to Raphael’s displeasure- and ignored the distant lecture about sharing. Gabriel stepped into the woods with a sack full of rope, sticks, and his cloak wrapped around him for the windy weather. He got to work; started setting up snares to flexible trees. He had set about three when he heard familiar grunting from behind him. He rolled his eyes, seeing the stag nosing through his sack and drawing back with a small loaf in his mouth.
“Hey, you should ask before you take those. Don’t assume they’re all for your huge gut.” Gabriel swiped the bag and the stag huffed at him, nosing his hair for more. Gabriel took out one loaf and broke it, waving one half in the air and watching the stag’s nose nod with it. He laughed, letting the big brute take it from him. Gabriel took a bite of the other half and waved it at the stag when his head lifted. “So, tell me if Artemis is going to get angry for making her Hind fat.” He waved the bread back and forth, causing the stag to give a no motion. Gabriel laughed to himself and tossed the bread towards the snare. The stag bent down low to eat it and Gabriel pinched his tongue between his teeth. Luring in the stag seemed a bit cruel in a way, but hey, maybe he wanted to boast that he caught the same beast that Hercules had in his third trial. “Alright, do you want this?” He held up a whole loaf and tossed it beyond the snare…
And of course the stag was smart enough step carefully over snare without getting its hooves caught on it. Gabriel placed his hands on his hips and leered at the stag, who seemed to give him one right back as he lazily chewed.
“You’re a weird one.” Gabriel told him and picked through his sack, giving up a little bit in catching the deer with a snag. “You’re nearly as tame as a horse. If I hadn’t seen the way you run, I’d think you were suicidal.” The stag huffed at him, waving his rack about. Gabriel had no clue what that was supposed to mean and the stag looked annoyed at him for laughing, but he pat the stag’s nose when he huffed again. “I can’t speak deer, Kiddo. Maybe you should ask the goddess for a proper voice.” The stag gave a funny huff-wheeze as though angry and took out his pent up aggression on the same tree that has the snare.
The snare tripped, which startled the stag and for a moment, Gabriel thought he’d run off again because the rope was still whipping in the air where the stag had been. But there was a loud, vocal grunt and Gabriel whipped around, seeing the stag had run, funnily enough, into another snag he’d left behind him, causing the stag to trip and fall onto his side, his back leg kicking against the straining young tree.
Gabriel thought he was imagining things, but after a moment’s struggle, he realized that was his chance. He dropped his sack and ran over, throwing himself onto the kicking animal. The stag gave a frantic, guttural noise, but Gabriel wrapped his hands around the base of the antlers before it could get up.
And to Gabriel’s utter confusion, he was holding two very heavy sets of antler racks that had popped off of the stag’s head. In fact, where a stag had been seconds ago, there was now a man laying in the forest foliage, shaken and naked. The man was tan skinned, had long brown hair with flecks of leaves in them, and was very attractive. In Gabriel’s daze of confusion, he looked down further down the body, also seeing the man was muscular and fit, like a gladiator. The man also stared up at Gabriel with wide, hazel-green eyes. It was very quiet. Even the trees moved before they did.
“You’re not a stag,” Gabriel said and let the heavy antlers rest on the ground as he straddled the very attractive man under him.
“I’m not?” He man asked and looked down at himself, then his hands, and then he touched his face, a look of realization coming over him. “By the gods, I’m NOT a stag!” He looked at Gabriel. “I’m not a stag!” Gabriel was very surprised when he was suddenly being kissed by the very handsome stranger. Not that he minded being kissed by handsome strangers. It was wet, and warm, and tasted like bread. But then the man pulled back just as quickly, looking horrified by his own actions. “I, I’m SO sorry. I don’t normally… You see-” Gabriel dropped the antlers and pushed the man back to the ground, showing him how to give a proper greeting-kiss.
If Gabriel was going to make sure it wasn’t a dream, he was going to at least get a good kiss out of it.
Several moments of frantic kissing later, Gabriel sat up and sighed, brushing his hand though his hair. The man looked somewhere between elated and still coming to himself; but his lips were thoroughly swollen and his face was a delightful shade of pink.
“I’m going to assume I’m not dreaming,” Gabriel said, considering the clearly aroused body beneath his.
“No, I…” The man gathered his senses. “I was GOING to say I was so grateful that I could kiss you…”
“I guess in the case, actions were MUCH better than words.” Gabriel laughed and the man shrugged shyly. “So this begs the question… why were you a stag, and now you’re not?”
“Well…” The man looked down at himself as he started to sit up. The only thing that was keeping him covered at the moment were the folds of Gabriel’s own clothes. “I would feel more comfortable if I could be covered…” Gabriel blinked blankly and remembered that the man was indeed naked. Gabriel unpinned his cloak from his shoulder and loaned it to the man. After several fervent thank yous, the man was wrapped up and took one of the loaves of bread that Gabriel offered. After a short exchange in names, Gabriel found out that the stag-man had a name. Short and sweet, it was Sam.
“I was hunting with my brother,” Sam explained, breaking the bread to have a bite. “I went to the spring to see if anything was drinking at the watering hole. There were several animals, but there was also a woman bathing. I thought I could wait until she left to make a kill, but it turned out to be Artemis, the goddess. For spying, she turned me into a stag and said I would remain one until someone took hold of my antlers.” Sam huddled into the warm wool cloak. “My own brother didn’t recognize me. He tried to shoot me. And when ever someone shot at me, or made to grab my horns, I would run. I didn’t even want to run, but I did. Even when I was ready to take an arrow, I would end up running.” Sam looked so run down and his shoulders slumped. “I was like that for 3 years.”
Gabriel let out a low whistle. “That’s a long time to be a deer.” Sam nodded, putting the bread to his lips.
“I was so tired of grass and twigs.” Sam took an appreciative whiff of the fresh loaf. Gabriel couldn’t imagine having to eat grass or anything other than properly cultivated food.
“Well Mr. Stag, you’ll just have to be my guest until you’re back on your feet, so to speak.” Gabriel stood and waggled the bread at Sam; then chuckled when his head followed like it did as a stag. Sam shook his head to gather his thoughts and frowned at Gabriel.
“I’m not a stag anymore, don’t treat me like one.” When Sam stood, he was still bigger than Gabriel, but in his opinion, far better company. Gabriel gathered the golden antlers, and Sam refused to touch them, as if he did, he’d turn back into a deer.
“This will be one hell of a story to tell my brothers. The Ceryneian Sam,” Gabriel joked as they headed back to town.
“Please don’t.” Sam asked.
“Oh fine, I’m sure telling them that I scared the stag so bad that his horns popped off will go over just as well as a stag turning into a man.” Gabriel paused, thinking about that visualization and he laughed to himself. Sam even had a small smile on his face.
Gabriel could safely say that even though he didn’t like hunting, catching the Ceryneian Hind was the most rewarding things he’d ever done.
In Greek mythology Artemis (goddess of the hunt) had a large sacred deer like creature, that had golden antlers and hooves of bronze, and was said to be faster than an arrow in flight. Capturing this creature was one of the labors of Heracles (Hercules).
I can’t avoid drawing animals forever, so I figured this would be a good starting point, not to mention I learned how to make fur look realistic or dreamy. Though I got heavy handed and the fur makes him look like a mule a bit around the face.
As I mentioned in the episode review, the Golden Hind is from an actual story pertaining to Hercules.
In the show, Golden Hinds are human-deer hybrids with golden horns and fur. They are one of Artemis’ sacred creatures and said to be very rare.
According to Greek mythology, after Heracles survived his encounters with both the Nemean Lion and the Lernaean Hydra (the first two of his 12 Labors), King Eurystheus devised another plot that he felt would surely get rid of the half-god for good. For his third Labor, Heracles was to bring back the Ceryneian Hind, a female deer with antlers of pure gold and hooves of brass.
For a year, Heracles chased the Hind from Greece all the way to Hyperborea. As he was returning to deliver the creature to Eurystheus, he was confronted by Artemis and Apollo. Rather than smiting him for his pursuit of the Hind, they allowed him to explain why he’d hunted it so intently and even allowed him to take it once he swore to return it. The hero kept his word by releasing the hind back to her mistress just when Eurystheus was about to claim her for his menagerie.
It existed in both continuities? Check.
It was super fast and had golden horns? Check.
Herc helped it avoid capture and death? Check.
Even though the show seriously condenses the Hind’s story, it did quite a lot of things right. The only major difference is that the Hind in the classical story was a full deer instead of being half-human.