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Aaron Matthews
Aaron Matthews

"Poirot" The Labours Of Hercules(2013)

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"Poirot" The Labours Of Hercules(2013)

Hercule Poirot is enjoying a social visit by Dr. Burton, a fellow of All Souls, who recites sonorously some lines from Homer's Iliad (XXIII, 316 f) and turns the conversation round to the subject of Poirot's unusual Christian name and how some of the pagan names parents give to their children do not suit their recipients. He thinks about Poirot's and Sherlock Holmes's mothers sitting together and discussing names for their children. Poirot claims ignorance of the legend of Hercules. The talk turns to Poirot's intention to retire after completing a few cases of interest and personal appeal and Burton laughingly refers to the twelve labours of Hercules. This comment gives Poirot pause for thought and after his visitor has gone, Poirot gets acquainted with the exploits of his legendary namesake, deciding his final cases will mimic Hercules' Twelve Labours.

Miss Lemon, Poirot's secretary, finds the first of the labours in a letter from a bluff outspoken businessman, Sir Joseph Hoggin, whose wife's Pekingese dog has been kidnapped. Poirot meets Hoggin, who tells him the dog was taken a week ago but returned for a ransom of two hundred pounds. Hoggin would have left the matter there but for the fact that the same thing had happened to an acquaintance at his club. Poirot meets the petulant Lady Hoggin and her put-upon companion, Miss Amy Carnaby, who is clearly frightened of her employer. Miss Carnaby took the yapping dog, Shan-Tung (described by Poirot as "a veritable lion"), for his walk in the park and she stopped to admire a baby in the pram. When she looked down, someone had cut the dog's leash and it had been taken. A ransom note said to leave the money in notes in an envelope for a Captain Curtis at an address in Bloomsbury.

The labours of Hercules were set for the classical Greek hero by King Eurystheus of Tiryns as a penance. On completing them he was rewarded with immortality. On the face of it, Poirot and Hercules are vastly different, both in character and appearance and after immersing himself in classical lore, Poirot decides he is definitely superior, as he looks at himself in the mirror he thinks:

The twelve labours of Hercules or dodekathlon (Greek: δωδέκαθλον, dodekathlon) are a series of episodes concerning a penance carried out by Heracles, the greatest of the Greek heroes, whose name was later Romanised as Hercules. The episodes were later connected by a continuous narrative. The establishment of a fixed cycle of twelve labours was attributed by the Greeks to an epic poem, now lost, written by Peisander, dated about 600 BC. 781b155fdc


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