Diomedean Horse
Dbs Jonathan Hunt Bestiary 26 Xanthus 800
Alternate Names/Spellings (f.) Mare of Diomedes
Alignment Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Evil
Species Equine
Appearance Flesh-eating horses


The Diomedean Horse is a creature with origins in Greek mythology, legend and folklore. In particular, retrieving a brood of ravenous mares from the barbaric Thracian king Diomedes was part of Heracles' famous Twelve Labors. Heracles captured them by binding their mouths, and left them in the care of his young protege Abderus. Unfortunately, the Mares of Diomedes ended up getting free of binds over their mouths, and devoured young Abderus. As revenge, Heracles either killed King Diomedes and then fed his body to the horses, or threw King Diomedes to satisfy the horses' hunger while he was still living.

Either way, feeding on their master the King kept them docile long enough that their mouths could safely be bound up again, and they were delivered to King Eurystheus. The King, in turn, dedicated the horses to Hera, and they were taken up to Mount Olympus, where they were supposed to have been sacrificed. Zeus, however, refused the sacrifice, and sent wild animals to kill them.

To this, some accounts add that at least one of the Mares of Diomedes actually escaped and fled, being chased by Heracles up to the high end of a peninsula. Having essentially cornered the horse, Heracles took an axe and dug a trench wide enough to turn the corner of that peninsula into an island. Another one besides this was supposedly allowed to go free through the land of Argos, and presumably continue life (ie reproducing with other horses), having been permanently calmed after consuming King Diomedes' flesh.

Some attempt to clarify which of the four from Diomedes' original brood remained alive after Heracles' labor, though some postulate that Diomedes actually owned others besides those properly named, and those named were probably the only ones that perished. For example, Heracles' labor specified the "Mares of Diomedes", but never discredited the possible existence of "Stallions of Diomedes" or"Geldings of Diomedes".

Names of Specific Diomedean Horses:

  • Bucephalus (steed of Alexander the Great)- descended from original brood
  • Deinos (the "Terrible")- Diomedes' original brood
  • Lampon (the "Shining")- Diomedes' original brood
  • Podargus (the "Swift")- Diomedes' original brood
  • Xanthus (the "Yellow")- Diomedes' original brood





Heracles Herakles Horses Man Eating Maneating Man-Eating Stallions Stallion Equines Equine Mares of Diomedes Labors-1-

The dreaded mares of Thrace...

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