The Children of Herakles
“The just have just
(Euripides, Children of Herakles 124)
Many of Herakles’ children accomplished great deeds and became well known for those accomplishments. Some of them became kings of their lands, others had places or groups of people named after them. However, out of the very large number of children or descendants of Herakles, not that many of them seem to continue Heracles’ legacy of heroic deeds. Those who do are mostly known for their courage and bravery in war. The names most commonly mentioned in poems, stories and plays are only three, Tlepolemus, Hyllus (Herakles’ eldest son) and Macaria (Herakles’ only daughter). This page will show those who did make a name for themselves.
|The Children of Herakles||The Heraclides|
Sons who became king
Galates became king of his land (Galatia)
Latinus 1 - King of Latium
Lydus - King of Lydia
Scythes - first King of Scythia
| Heraclides (Later Generations) who were kings
Ninus - King of Assyria
Agron 2 - King of Sardes (Lydia)
Phaestus 2 - King of Sicyon
Hippolytus 5 - King of Sicyon
Agamedidas - King of Cleonae
Cisus - King of Argos
Cresphontes - King of Messenia
Eurysthenes 1 - King of Lacedaemon (Sparta)
Procles 2 - King of Lacedaemon
Aepytus 2 - King of Messenia
Isthmius - king of his land (unknown)
Lacestades - King of Sicyon
Temenus 2 - King of Argos
Aletes 2 - King of Corinth
List of Eponymous Heroes
Deeds Accomplished by Herakles' Children
The Heraclides (Later generations)
The Deaths of Herakles'
Most of the direct offspring of Heracles that died prematurely were killed by Heracles’ own hands. Three of them he threw into the fire in his fit of madness (Euripides “Madness of Heracles”) and the other he killed because the child went mad (Hyginus Fabulae 31, 72, 162). Most of his descendants were killed during battle. When researching his children one doesn’t
really come across a lot of them who killed for unjust reasons; some of the Heraclides did but not many. Bad deeds do not seem to be a common theme among Heracles’ children.
Killed or Died
Creontiades was flung into the fire during Heracles’ madness
Deicoon 1 was flung into the fire during Heracles’ madness
Therimachus was flung into the fire during Heracles’ madness
Hyllus is said to have been killed by the Arcadian King Echemus
Macaria slew herself in order to save her brothers
Ophites 1 went mad so Heracles killed him
Pallas 7 died before he reached puberty
Tlepolemus was killed by Sarpedon 1 during the Trojan War
The Daughters of Thespius:
The story of King Thespius and his fifty daughters is pretty well known. For fifty nights Thespius entertained Heracles and in return he was asked to give Thespius fifty sons. For each night Heracles was there he had intercourse with one of his fifty daughters. There are a couple different variations of this story. But a fact that might not be well known is that Thespius’ eldest daughter Procris had twin sons, Antileon (usually the only one mentioned) and Hippeus. So in total Thespius had fifty-one sons. However, none of them have been described as continuing Herakles' legacy.
Heracles was bought as a servant to Queen Omphale, and there are many versions on what happened at her court while he was under her servitude. But while he was serving her they had at least two sons together, Agelaus and Tyrsenus, however the second son isn’t often mentioned in writing.
Heracles while searching for his straying mares came across a creature half serpent and half woman. When asked if she had seen his horses she told him that she had them and would not return them unless he had intercourse with her. So wanting to get his horses back he mated with her. Eventually she gave him back his horses and she was rewarded with three sons.
Before he left she wanted to know what was to be done about her three sons once they grew up. Heracles answered by giving her his bow and a belt with a golden vessel on the end of its clasp and said “When you see the boys are grown up, do as follows and you will do rightly: whichever of them you see bending this bow and wearing this belt so, make him an
inhabitant of this land; but whoever falls short of these accomplishments that I require, send him away out of the country.” So as her sons were born she named them Agathyrsus and Gelonus and Scythes. Remembering what Heracles said she told them the task. She ended up casting out two of her sons for they could not fulfill the requirements, but Scythes, the youngest, fulfilled them and was allowed to stay. From him the whole line of kings of Scythia originated and to this day the Scythians still carry vessels on their belts (Herodotus 4.9.1, 4.10.1).
According to Herodotus the Scythian monster only had three sons, however, the Greek Mythology Link, which compiles information from many primary sources, states that she had four children. The fourth son was Alcaeus 6, who was a Heraclide. But this again is a contradiction for it says that she is his mother but when you look at the list of Heraclides it is
written that Omphale was Alcaeus’ 6 mother. Apparently the primary sources differ.
The Greek Mythology Link gives the names of two woman who were known to keep Heracles’ cattle of Geryon and would not return them unless they were first satisfied. The two stories of the women are very similar but the different authors placed different emphasis on certain aspects of it. The Greek Mythology Link states that Celtine, the daughter of Bretannus, had
fallen in love with the great hero and so hid away his kine (the cattle of Geryon) and refused to give them back to him until he first contented her (Parthenius 30.1-2). However, according to Herodotus’ story of the Scythian monster, she held captive his mares and it seems that her main goal was to have children of Heracles’ blood to run the land.
Evenus 2 is said to be the son of Heracles but also is said to be the son of Ares.
Who they are
Heraclides are the descendants of Heracles who fought to claim absolute power of the Peloponnesus. They felt that Peloponnesus belonged to them because of the fact that their heritage could be traced back all the way to Perseus, the founder of Mycenae (a city in Peloponnesus).
There were three noted females that were considered Heraclides and all three of them choose mates that were also Heraclides:
Temenus had one: Hyrnetho; her husband was Deiphontes
Thersander 3 had two: Lathria and Anaxandra; for their mates they choose the twins of Aristodemus
Lathria choose Procles 2
Anaxandra choose Eurysthenes 1
Both families had one child and each child became king of Sparta, continuing the two royal houses.
The Dorian Invasion
The Dorians where those who claimed to be linked to Heracles because their kings were descendants
of his. Also Heracles’ eldest son Hyllus was said to be a Dorian by adoption.
After the death of King Eurystheus the Heraclides attacked the Peloponnesus and captured all the cities. One year afterwards a plague covered all of the Peloponnesus. According to an oracle this happened because they returned before the proper time, with this the Heraclides left the city and and retired to Marathon. Hyllus, wanting to be part of the victorious capture of Peloponnesus asked a Delphic oracle how he and his brothers should claim their father’s kingdom. The oracle replied they should wait till the third crop (or fruit in some texts) before returning. Hyllus interpreted this to mean three years, so three years later he and his army returned. However, at the Isthmus of Corinth (1) they were met by a Peloponnesian army and was defeated. Hyllus was slain by King Echemus in that battle. The second attempt starts off with Temenus discovering that the oracle meant the third generation, not the third year (2). With his new insight he went and prepared his army and built ships at Naupactus (a harbor in Locris). However, two events happened while in Naupactus that made their second attempt a failure. First, Temenus’ brother, Aristodemus was killed by a thunderbolt and second, a soothsayer Carnus came to them and was mistaken for a Pelopinnesian magician come to ruin the army. So Hippotes 2 killed him not knowing that he was a seer of Apollo, because of Carnus’ death the naval force was destroyed and the army suffered from famine and retreated. Once again Temenus asked the oracle what went wrong and his answer was that those events were done by the seer and Temenus was advised to banish Hippotes 2 for ten years and to look for the Three-Eyed One to be their guide. The Heraclides than banished Hippotes and began searching for the Three-Eyed One. They came across Oxylus 2 who was sitting upon a one-eyed horse, so they assumed him to be the guide. With Oxylus 2 as their guide the third attempt was victorious. They defeated the Peloponnesians and killed Tisamenus 2, the last of the Pelopides to rule Peloponnesus. The Peloponnesus was then divided, Argos was given to Temenus 2, the twin sons of Aristodemus (Procles 2 and Eurysthenes 1) were given Lacedaemon (3), and Messenia was given to Cresphontes.
(1) it is said that the oracle said “The gods declare victory to thee by the way of the narrows” this was taken to mean “by the Isthmus of Corinth”
(2) the oracle also says that when he said the narrows what he was referring to was the “broad-bellied sea on the right of the Isthmus”
(3) by Procles 2 and Eurysthenes 1 receiving Lacedaemon, two royal houses in Sparta were developed, Eurysthenes, being the older twin, had seniority and greater honor
List of sources:
The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature
Greek Mythology Link
within the Heraclides
The major conspiracy dealt with Temenus 2 and his sons. Temenus had eight sons, Cerynes, Eurypylus 5, Isthmius 1, Cisus, Agraeus 1, Phalces 2, Agelaus 3, and Callias and a daughter, Hyrnetho. He favored his only daughter and her husband, Deiphontes, over all his sons, because of this his sons conspired against him and hired some men to kill him. Deiphontes was employed as general in war and as adviser on all occasions by Temenus 2. Agraeus 1 was the youngest of the brothers and he disapproved of the conspiracy. Hyrnetho refused to conspire against her father so she was kidnapped by her brother Cerynes, whom Deiphontes later kills. It is said that Hyrnetho was killed by her brother Phalces 2 while she was pregnant.
Agelaus 3 conspired to kill his father (Temenus 2)
Cerynes conspired to kill his father (Temenus 2)
kidnapped his sister Hyrnetho
Phalces is said to have killed his sister
Cisus conspired to kill his father (Temenus 2)
Eurypylus 5 conspired to kill his father (Temenus 2)
Aristodemus was killed by a thunderbolt
Aristomachus 2 was slain in battle
Cerynes was killed by Deiphontes
Cresphontes was killed when the rich rebelled against him because his government was directed in favor of the people
Hyrnetho is said to have been killed by her brother Phalces 2
Temenus 2 was killed by his sons
Ninus was murdered by his wife Semiramis
(Much of this information was collected from the biographies in the
Greek Mythology Link.)