The Arrows of HerculesL. Sprague de Camp
The Sibyl of Cumae predicted that Zopyros would "bend the bow of Hercules and smash the world to bits..." But how could one peaceful engineer play with such a godlike role in history?
Zopyros the Tarentine planned to enter his father's engineering firm and live out his days in quiet contemplation of the ideals of the philosopher Pythagoras. But the Fates ordained a far different future for this man with a genius for things mechanical.
It was four hundred years before Christ. Dionysios, the brilliant, ruthless dictator of Syracuse, had just set up the first military ordnance department — an enormous peacetime center for the invention and manufacture of unheard-of weapons — weapons with which to blaze a path of glory across the world. And here Zopyros, the dreamer, became willy-nilly a man of action.
Dionysios was quick to see the value of Zopyros' most unusual invention — the catapult, which could hurl a spear farther than any mortal man. And, in Dionyios' war with the Carthaginians, thirty such devices strengthened his forces and terrified his foes. But now Zopyros was merely one of Dionysios' mercenaries — a man who dealt death for money... who had abandoned the Pythagorean ideals he once revered.