CLEANING THE AUGEAN STABLES
King Augeas owned 12 white bulls sacred to Apollo. Their stables had not been cleaned in 30 years! Hercules was called upon to do the work in one day. He diverted the course of a river, made it run through the stables, and reported his mission completed. To clean the Augean stables means to clear up a mess. The phrase is sometimes applied to the efforts of a reform government to undo the corruption left by its predecessors.
Hercules cleaning King Augeas stable
THE BED OF PROCRUSTES
Procrustes, "the Stretcher," was a highwayman and innkeeper who had an ingenious method of torturing his guests and victims. He insisted that each of them must exactly fit the iron bed in his inn. To accomplish this end, he would stretch a guest if he was too short or cut his legs to size if he was too tall. A system--educational or political--in which the individual must fit a single type or pattern and conform arbitrarily is known as a bed of Procrustes, or procrustean.
Procrustes torturing a guest