Eurystheus and the Herakleidai (page 465)

Chapter 13: Herakles

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DS 4.57 – Diodoros Siculos, Library of History

Since we have sufficiently elaborated the history of the Argonauts and the deeds accomplished by Heracles, it may be appropriate also to record, in accordance with the promise we made, the deeds of his sons.

[2] Now after the deification of Heracles his sons made their home in Trachis at the court of Ceÿx the king. But later, when Hyllus and some of the others had attained to manhood, Eurystheus, being afraid lest, after they had all come of age, he might be driven from his kingdom at Mycenae, decided to send the Heracleidae into exile from the whole of Greece. [3] Consequently he served notice upon Ceÿx, the king, to banish both the Heracleidae and the sons of Licymnius,​ and Iolaüs as well and the band of Arcadians who had served with Heracles on his campaigns, adding that, if he should fail to do these things, he must submit to war. [4] But the Heracleidae and their friends, perceiving that they were of themselves not sufficient in number to carry on a war against Eurystheus, decided to leave Trachis of their own free will, and going about among the most important of the other cities they asked them to receive them as fellow-townsmen. When no other city had the courage to take them in, the Athenians alone of all, such being their inborn sense of justice, extended a welcome to the sons of Heracles, and they settled them and their companions in the flight in the city of Tricorythus, which is one of the cities of what is called the Tetrapolis. [5] And after some time, when all the sons of Heracles had attained to manhood and a spirit of pride sprang up in the young men because of the glory of descent from Heracles, Eurystheus, viewing with suspicion their growing power, came up against them with a great army. [6] But the Heracleidae, who had the aid of the Athenians, chose as their leader Iolaüs, the nephew of Heracles, and after entrusting to him and Theseus and Hyllus the direction of the war, they defeated Eurystheus in a pitched battle. In the course of the battle the larger part of the army of Eurystheus was slain and Eurystheus himself, when his chariot was wrecked in the flight, was killed by Hyllus, the son of Heracles; likewise the sons of Eurystheus perished in the battle to a man.  Greek Text

Str 8.6.19 – Strabo, Geography

Now Mycenae is no longer in existence, but it was founded by Perseus, and Perseus was succeeded by Sthenelus, and Sthenelus by Eurystheus; and the same men ruled over Argos also. Now Eurystheus made an expedition to Marathon against Iolaüs and the sons of Heracles, with the aid of the Athenians, as the story goes, and fell in the battle, and his body was buried at Gargettus, except his head, which was cut off by Iolaüs, and was buried separately at Tricorynthus near the spring Marcaria below the wagon road. And the place is called “Eurystheus’ HeadGreek Text

Paus 1.32.6 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

In Marathon is a spring called Macaria with the following legend. When Heracles left Tiryns, fleeing from Eurystheus, he went to live with his friend Ceyx, who was king of Trachis. But when Heracles departed this life Eurystheus demanded his children; whereupon the king of Trachis sent them to Athens, saying that he was weak but Theseus had power enough to succor them. The arrival of the children as suppliants caused for the first time war between Peloponnesians and Athenians, Theseus refusing to give up the refugees at the demand of Eurystheus. The story says that an oracle was given the Athenians that one of the children of Heracles must die a voluntary death, or else victory could not be theirs. Thereupon Macaria, daughter of Deianeira and Heracles, slew herself and gave to the Athenians victory in the war and to the spring her own name.  Greek Text

ApB 2.8.1 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

When Hercules had been translated to the gods, his sons fled from Eurystheus and came to Ceyx. But when Eurystheus demanded their surrender and threatened war, they were afraid, and, quitting Trachis, fled through Greece. Being pursued, they came to Athens, and sitting down on the altar of Mercy, claimed protection. Refusing to surrender them, the Athenians bore the brunt of war with Eurystheus, and slew his sons, Alexander, Iphimedon, Eurybius, Mentor and Perimedes. Eurystheus himself fled in a chariot, but was pursued and slain by Hyllus just as he was driving past the Scironian cliffs; and Hyllus cut off his head and gave it to Alcmena; and she gouged out his eyes with weaving-pins.  Greek Text

Σ Py 9.137 – Scholion at Pindar, Pythian Odes – Scholia vetera in Pindari carmina 2, pp. 233-34, ed. A.B Drachman. Leipzig 1903.

Greek Text

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Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, December 2023.

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