three goddesses of the evening and sunset who tended the Hera's sacred garden in a far western corner of the world

The Hesperides in Greek mythology were the nymphs of the sunset. Different sources name different parents for the Hesperides; they may have been daughters of the Titans Atlas and Hesperis; Erebus and Nyx; Nyx alone; Phorcys and Ceto; or of Hesperus.

It was usually thought that there were three Hesperides, although some sources name four or seven. They were responsible of taking care of a garden in the western end of the world, near the Atlas mountains in Africa.

The so called Garden of the Hesperides belonged to the goddess Hera, in which there was a grove of apple trees that bore golden apples. The golden apples were believed to give immortality to anyone who consumed them.

Not trusting the Hesperides to guard the apple trees on their own, Hera also placed a hundred headed dragon named Ladon that never slept.

A golden apple that was taken from the Garden of the Hesperides was what eventually caused the Trojan War; Eris, goddess of strife, managed to steal an apple from the garden, inscribed the words "To the fairest" and threw it amidst the goddesses that attended at a wedding she was not invited to.

The apple was then given by Paris, prince of Troy, to Aphrodite, who promised to give him Helen as his wife, thus triggering the events of the Trojan War.

The Hesperides and their Garden were also one of the tasks that were given during the Labours of Heracles. Eurystheus, not counting the slaying of the Lernaean Hydra nor the cleaning of the Augean stables, gave two extra tasks to Heracles.

One of them was to steal the apples from the Garden of Hesperides. Heracles successfully managed to get the apples from the garden and bring them back to Eurystheus.



[1] "Greek Mythology"

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