"You must destroy the brazen-winged Stymphalian Birds that ravage the Arcadian countryside around the Stymphalian Lake. Do not return until the last of those birds has been driven from Stymphalia." Hercules undertook this Labor worried that it might not be possible to complete it. How was he supposed to kill every single one of those birds? Rumours had it that their number ranged from several hundreds to one thousand. It might take years for him to shoot down every single one of them with his bow.
As he was approaching the Arcadian lands, a wise idea illuminated his mind: the King had ordered that the birds be gone from Stymphalia. He did not specify that it had to be done by exterminating them. Hercules quickly visited the nearest village and procured a piece of bronze, which he forged into a large rattle. The following day, the hero visited the lake and met the ravenous birds. It seemed that there were thousands of them present in the lake and, for a moment, the hero was not sure whether his plan would succeed or not. But as soon as he started using his rattle, the noise terrified the birds that flew into the air shrieking with fear. Hercules shot down as many of them as he could and the rest flew away. He continued the prowl and the noise-making for several days until he made sure not a single bird was left in the area. As the tops of the trees stood silent, the hero left the lakeside victorious.
Eurystheus admired his cousin's ingenuity but soon that feeling was overcome by jealousy and insecurity; what if this man was to overthrow him and rule in his place? He he surely was stronger, bolder and with a clearer mind than his. But he was sure that his cousin lacked something he possessed in abundance: deviousness. "I deem this Labor done, since the birds are now inhabiting foreign lands, away from Arcadia. You may now rest and we shall meet tomorrow morning by the gate."
Hercules left the palace and headed towards the temple of Athena. He kneeled and prayed, thanking the goddess of wisdom for granting the idea that occurred to him at the right time. The voice of the goddess sounded soothing in his mind:
"You can never kill a thought. You may only chase it away every time it returns. Do so playfully, with a lot of noise and cheer."