People in the Life of Hercules

Statue of 'Hercules and Nero' in the Piazza della Signoria, Italy
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Hercules encountered many people in his travels and labors. This list of people in Hercules' life is based on the Loeb edition of the Library of Apollodorus, a 2nd Century B.C. Greek scholar, who wrote a Chronicles and On the Gods. It is thought that the Library (Bibliotheca) was written by someone a few centuries later, but it is still referred to as the Library of Apollodorus or Pseudo-Apollodorus.

Alcmene, Hercules' Mother

Alcmene (Alcmena) was the mother of Hercules. She was the granddaughter of Perseus and the wife of Amphitryon, but Amphitryon killed her father, Electryon, by accident. The marriage wasn't to be consummated until Amphitryon had avenged the death of Alcmene's brothers. On the night after this was accomplished, Zeus came to Alcmene in the guise of Amphitryon with proof of the revenge. Later, the real Amphitryon came to his wife, but by this time she was pregnant with her first son, Hercules. Amphitryon fathered Hercules' twin brother, Iphicles.

Pelops is given as Alcmene's father in Eur. Herc. 210ff.

Rhadamanthys married Alcmene after Amphitryon died.

The Amazons

In the 9th Labor, Hercules is to fetch the belt of the Amazon queen Hippolyte. The Amazons become suspicious and they attack Hercules' men. Hippolyte is killed.

Amphitryon, Hercules' Father

Amphitryon, a grandson of Perseus and son of King Alcaeus of Tiryns, was the step-father of Hercules and father of his twin brother Iphicles. He accidentally killed his uncle and father-in-law, Electryon, and was driven out by another uncle, Sthenelus. Amphitryon took his family to Thebes where King Creon purified him.

Antaeus, Hercules' Enemy

Antaeus of Libya wrestled and killed passing strangers. When Hercules came his way, the pair wrestled. Hercules learned that the earth energized Antaeus, so he held him up, drained his strength, and so killed him. 

Hercules' Friends

Hercules and his lover Hylas went with Jason and the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece. However, when the nymphs on Mysa carried Hylas off, Hercules left the group to search for Hylas.

King Augeas of Elis

King Augeas of Elis offered to pay Hercules for cleaning out his stables in a day. Hercules diverted the Alpheus and Peneus rivers to clean the years' worth of filth, but the king refused to pay. Augeas' son Phyleus testified on behalf of Hercules when his father denied he had promised to pay. Hercules later returned and got revenge. He also rewarded Phyleus by installing him on the throne.

Autolycus

Autolycus was the son of Hermes and Chione. He was the ancient prince of thieves who taught wrestling to Hercules.

Cacus the Cannibal

Cacus is a Roman enemy of Hercules. When Hercules passed through Rome with the cattle he had taken from Geryon, Cacus, a thief who lived in a cave on the Aventine, stole some of them while Hercules was napping. Hercules located the missing cattle when the stolen ones lowed and the ones he still had in possession, replied. Hercules then killed Cacus. In other versions, Cacus is a horrible cannibalistic monster.

Castor of the Argonauts

Castor and his brother Pollux were known as the Dioscuri. Castor taught Hercules to fence, according to Apollodorus. Castor was also a member of the Argonauts. Pollux was fathered by Zeus, but Castor's parents were Leda and her husband Tyndareus.

Hercules' Last Mortal Wife Deianeira

Deianeira was Hercules' last mortal wife. She was the daughter of Althaea and Oeneus or Dexamenus, king of Olenus. Hercules defeated the river god Achelous in order to marry Deianeira.

Deianeira thought she was losing Hercules to Iole, so she put what she thought was a love potion on a garment which she sent to Hercules. When he put it on, the potent poison that had been called a love potion took ​effect. Hercules wanted to die, so he built a pyre and persuaded someone to light it. He then ascended to become one of the gods and married the goddess Hebe.

Hercules' Cousin, Eurystheus

Eurystheus is Hercules' cousin and king of Mycenae and Tiryns. After Hera had tricked an oath out of Zeus that the boy born that day who was his descendant would become king, she caused Eurystheus to be born early and Hercules, who was due, was held back until Eurystheus was born. It was for Eurystheus that Hercules performed the 12 labors.

Hesione, the Sister of King Priam

Hesione was a sister of King Priam of Troy. When their father, Ling Laomedon, ruled Troy, Hesione was exposed to a sea monster. Hercules rescued her and gave her as a concubine to his follower Telamon. Hesione was ​the mother of Telamon's son Teucer, but not Ajax.

Hylas, Who Was Taken by Nymphs

Hylas was a beautiful young man whom Hercules loved. They joined the Argonauts together, but then Hylas was taken by nymphs.

Iolaus, Son of Iphicles

Iolaus, son of Iphicles, was a charioteer, companion, and favorite of Hercules. He may have married Hercules' wife Megara after Hercules killed their children in one of his fits of madness. Iolaus helped Hercules in the labor to destroy the Lernaean Hydra by cauterizing the neck after Hercules severed the head.

Iphicles, Hercules' Twin

Iphicles was the twin brother of Hercules. He was born of Alcmene and his father was Amphitryon. Iphicles was the father of Hercules' favorite, Iolaus.

Laomedon, the Sea Monster

Hercules offered to save King Laomedon's daughter from the sea monster if Laomedon would give him his special horses as a reward. Laomedon agreed, Hercules rescued Hesione, but Laomedon reneged on the deal, so Hercules took revenge.

The Lapiths

Hercules came to the aid of a grandson of Hellen, King Aegimius of the Dorians, in his boundary conflict with King Coronus of the Lapiths. King Aegimus promised Hercules a third of the land, so Hercules killed the Lapith king and won the conflict for the Dorian king. Keeping his part of the bargain, King Aegimius adopted Hercules son Hyllus as heir.

Linus the Teacher

Linus was the brother of Orpheus and taught Hercules writing and music, but when he struck Hercules, Hercules retaliated and killed him. Hercules was excused, by Rhadamanthys, for the murder because he was retaliating against an act of aggression. Nonetheless, Amphitryon sent him away to a cattle farm. 

Megara, One of Hercules' Wives

For saving the Thebans from the tribute to the Minyans, Hercules was awarded Megara, daughter of King Creon for his wife. They had three children. In Apollodorus 2.4.12 Hercules was driven mad after defeating the Minyans. He threw his children and two of Iphicles' children into a fire. Other stories put the madness after Hercules' return from Hades. Hercules may have married his wife to a surviving nephew, Iolaus.

The Minyans

The Minyans were collecting a tribute from the Thebans under King Creon for 20 years. One year when they sent out their tribute collectors, Hercules apprehended them and cut off their ears and noses and sent them back to their king, Erginus. The Minyans retaliated and attacked Thebes, but Hercules defeated them. His step-father Amphitryon may have been killed in this battle.

Queen Omphale

Lydian Queen Omphale bought Hercules as a slave. They traded clothing and had a son. Omphale also sent Hercules off to do services for the people in the area.

Theseus - Friend of Hercules

Theseus was a friend of Hercules who had helped another friend of his, Pirithous, on the absurd attempt to abduct Persephone. While in the Underworld, the pair was chained. When Hercules was in the Underworld, he rescued Theseus.

Thespius and His Daughters

Hercules went hunting with King Thespius for 50 days and each night he slept with one of the king's 50 daughters because the king wanted to have grandchildren that were fathered by the hero. Hercules didn't realize it was a different woman each night. He impregnated all or all but one of them and their offspring, sons, under ​the leadership of their uncle Iolaus, colonized Sardinia.

The Trangendered Seer, Tiresias

The transgendered seer Tiresias of Thebes told Amphitryon about Zeus' encounter with Alcmene and prophesied what would become of his infant child Hercules.