Heracles at the Crossroads

In Latin Hercules, the most celebrated of all the heroes of antiquity. The traditions about him are not only the richest in substance, but also the most widely spread; for we find them not only in all the countries round the Mediterranean, but his wondrous deeds were known in the most distant countries of the ancient world. The difficulty of presenting a complete view of these traditions was felt even by the ancients;1 and in order to give a general survey, we must divide the subject, mentioning first the Greek legends and their gradual development, next the Roman legends, and lastly those of the East (Egypt, Phoenicia).

The traditions about Heracles appear in their national purity down to the time of Herodotus; for although there may be some foreign ingredients, yet the whole character of the hero, his armor, his exploits, and the scenes of his action, are all essentially Greek. But the poets of the time of Herodotus and of the subsequent periods introduced considerable alterations, which were probably derived from the east or Egypt, for every nation of antiquity as well as of modern times had or has some traditions of heroes of superhuman strength and power. Now while in the earliest Greek legends Heracles is a purely human hero, as the conqueror of men and cities, he afterwards appears as the subduer of monstrous animals, and is connected in a variety of ways with astronomical phenomena.

According to Homer,2 Heracles was the son of Zeus by Alcmene of Thebes in Boeotia, and the favorite of his father.3 His stepfather was Amphitryon.4 Amphitryon was the son of Alcaeus, the son of Perseus, and Alcmene was a grand-daughter of Perseus. Hence Heracles belonged to the family of Perseus.

The story of his birth runs thus. Amphitryon, after having slain Electryon, was expelled from Argos, and went with his wife Alcmene to Thebes, where he was received and purified by his uncle Creon. Alcmene was yet a maiden, in accordance with a vow which Amphitryon had been obliged to make to Electryon, and Alcmene continued to refuse him the rights of a husband, until he should have avenged the death of her brothers on the Taphians. While Amphitryon was absent from Thebes, Zeus one night, to which he gave the duration of three other nights, visited Alcmene, and assuming the appearance of Amphitryon, and relating to her how her brothers had been avenged, he begot by her the hero Heracles, the great bulwark of gods and men. (Respecting the various modifications of this story see Apollodorus, Hyginus, Hesiod, and others.5)

The day on which Heracles was to be born, Zeus boasted of his becoming the father of a man who was to rule over the heroic race of Perseus. Hera prevailed upon him to confirm by an oath that the descendant of Perseus born that day should be the ruler. When this was done she hastened to Argos, and there caused the wife of Sthenelus to give birth to Eurystheus, whereas, by keeping away the Eileithyiae, she delayed the confinement of Alcmene, and thus robbed Heracles of the empire which Zeus had intended for him. Zeus was enraged at the imposition practiced upon him, but could not violate his oath.

Alcmene brought into the world two boys, Heracles, the son of Zeus, and Iphicles, the son of Amphitryon, who was one night younger than Heracles.6 Zeus, in his desire not to leave Heracles the victim of Hera's jealousy, made her promise, that if Heracles executed twelve great works in the service of Eurystheus, he should become immortal.7

Respecting the place of his birth traditions did not agree; for although the majority of poets and mythographers relate that he was born at Thebes, Diodorus8 says that Amphitryon was not expelled from Tiryns till after the birth of Heracles, and Euripides9 describes Argos as the native country of the hero.

Nearly all the stories about the childhood and youth of Heracles, down to the time when he entered the service of Eurystheus, seem to be inventions of a later age: at least in the Homeric poems and in Hesiod we only find the general remarks that he grew strong in body and mind, that in the confidence in his own power he defied even the immortal gods, and wounded Hera and Ares, and that under the protection of Zeus and Athena he escaped the dangers which Hera prepared for him. But according to Pindar,10 and other subsequent writers, Heracles was only a few months old when Hera sent two serpents into the apartment where Heracles and his brother Iphicles were sleeping, but the former killed the serpents with his own hands.11

Heracles was brought up at Thebes, but the detail of his infant life is again related with various modifications in the different traditions. It is said that Alcmene, from fear of Hera, exposed her son in a field near Thebes, hence called the field of Heracles; here he was found by Hera and Athena, and the former was prevailed upon by the latter to put him to her breast, and she then carried him back to his mother.12 Others said that Hermes carried the newly-born child to Olympus, and put him to the breast of Hera while she was asleep, but as she awoke, she pushed him away, and the milk thus spilled produced the Milky Way.13

As the hero grew up, he was instructed by Amphitryon in riding in a chariot, by Autolycus in wrestling, by Eurytus in archery, by Castor in fighting with heavy armor, and by Linus in singing and playing the lyre. (See the different statements in Theocritus.14) Linus was killed by his pupil with the lyre, because he had censured him.15 Being charged with murder, Heracles exculpated himself by saying that the deed was done in self-defense; and Amphitryon, in order to prevent similar occurrences, sent him to attend to his cattle. In this manner he spent his life till his eighteenth year. His height was four cubits, fire beamed from his eyes, and he never wearied in practicing shooting and hurling his javelin. Pindar16 calls him small of stature, but of indomitable courage.

To this period of his life belongs the beautiful fable about Heracles before two roads, invented by the sophist Prodicus, which may be read in Xenophon's Memorabilia (ii, 1) and Cicero's De Officiis (i, 32). See Arete and Cacia.

Heracles' first great adventure, which happened while he was still watching the oxen of his father, is his fight against and victory over the lion of Cythaeron. This animal made great havoc among the flocks of Amphitryon and Thespius (or Thestius), king of Thespiae, and Heracles promised to deliver the country of the monster. Thespius, who had fifty daughters, rewarded Heracles by making him his guest so long as the chase lasted, and gave up his daughters to him, each for one night.17 Heracles slew the lion, and henceforth wore its skin as his ordinary garment, and its mouth and head as his helmet; others related that the lion's skin of Heracles was taken from the Nemean lion.

On his return to Thebes, he met the envoys of king Erginus of Orchomenos, who were going to fetch the annual tribute of one hundred oxen, which they had compelled the Thebans to pay. Heracles, in his patriotic indignation, cut off the noses and ears of the envoys, and thus sent them back to Erginus. The latter thereupon marched against Thebes; but Heracles, who received a suit of armor from Athena, defeated and killed the enemy, and compelled the Orchomenians to pay double the tribute which they had formerly received from the Thebans. In this battle against Erginus Heracles lost his father Amphitryon, though the tragedians make him survive the campaign.18 According to some accounts, Erginus did not fall in the battle, but concluded peace with Heracles. But the glorious manner in which Heracles had delivered his country procured him immortal fame among the Thebans, and Creon rewarded him with the hand of his eldest daughter, Megara, by whom he became the father of several children, the number and names of whom are stated differently by the different writers.19 The gods, on the other hand, made him presents of arms: Hermes gave him a sword, Apollo a bow and arrows, Hephaestus a golden coat of mail, and Athena a peplos, and he cut for himself a club in the neighborhood of Nemea, while, according to others, the club was of brass, and the gift of Hephaestus.20

After the battle with the Minyans, Hera visited Heracles with madness, in which he killed his own children by Megara and two of Iphicles. In his grief he sentenced himself to exile, and went to Thestius, who purified him.21 Other traditions place this madness at a later time, and relate the circumstances differently.22 He then consulted the oracle of Delphi as to where he should settle. The Pythia first called him by the name of Heracles — for hitherto his name had been Alcides or Alcaeus, — and ordered him to live at Tiryns, to serve Eurystheus for the space of twelve years, after which he should become immortal. Heracles accordingly went to Tiryns, and did as he was bid by Eurystheus.

The Twelve Labors of Heracles (main entry):

  1. The Nemean Lion;
  2. The Lernaean Hydra;
  3. The Ceryneian Stag;
  4. The Erymanthian Boar;
  5. The Augean Stables;
  6. The Stymphalian Birds;
  7. The Cretan Bull;
  8. The Mares of Diomedes;
  9. The Girdle of Hippolyte;
  10. The Cattle of Geryon;
  11. The Apples of the Hesperides;
  12. The Capture of Cerberus.

According to Apollodorus, Eurystheus originally required only ten, and commanded him to perform two more, because he was dissatisfied with two of them; but Diodorus represents twelve as the original number required. Along with these labors, or ἆθλοι (athloi), the ancients relate a considerable number of other feats, or πάρεργα (parerga), which he performed without being commanded by Eurystheus; some of them are interwoven with the twelve ἆθλοι, and others belong to a later period. Those of the former kind can be found in the separate entries, and we now proceed to mention the principal πάρεργα of the second class.

After the accomplishment of the twelve labors, and being released from the servitude of Eurystheus, he returned to Thebes. He there gave Megara in marriage to Iolaus; for, as he had lost the children whom he had by her, he looked upon his connexion with her as displeasing to the gods,23 and went to Oechalia. According to some traditions, Heracles, after his return from Hades (as the last of his twelve labors), was seized with madness, in which he killed both Megara and her children. This madness was a calamity sent to him by Hera, because he had slain Lycus, king of Thebes, who, in the belief that Heracles would not return from Hades, had attempted to murder Megara and her children.24

Eurytus, king of Oechalia, an excellent archer, and the teacher of Heracles in his art, had promised his daughter Iole to the man who should excel him and his sons in using the bow. Heracles engaged in the contest with them, and succeeded, but Eurytus refused abiding by his promise, saying, that he would not give his daughter to a man who had murdered his own children. Iphitus, the son of Eurytus, endeavored to persuade his father, but in vain. Soon after this the oxen of Eurytus were carried off, and it was suspected that Heracles was the offender. Iphitus again defended Heracles, went to him and requested his assistance in searching after the oxen. Heracles agreed; but when the two had arrived at Tiryns, Heracles, in a fit of madness, threw his friend down from the wall, and killed him. Deiphobus of Amyclae, indeed, purified Heracles from this murder, but he was, nevertheless, attacked by a severe illness. Heracles then repaired to Delphi to obtain a remedy, but the Pythia refused to answer his questions. A struggle between Heracles and Apollo ensued, and the combatants were not separated till Zeus sent a flash of lightning between them. Heracles now obtained the oracle that he should be restored to health, if he would sell himself, would serve three years for wages, and surrender his wages to Eurytus, as an atonement for the murder of Iphitus.25

Heracles was sold to Omphale, queen of Lydia, and widow of Tmolus. Later writers, especially the Roman poets, describe Heracles, during his stay with Omphale, as indulging at times in an effeminate life: he span wool, it is said, and sometimes he put on the garments of a woman, while Omphale wore his lion's skin; but, according to Apollodorus and Diodorus, he nevertheless performed several great feats.26 Among these, we mention his chaining the Cercopes, his killing Syleus and his daughter in Aulis, his defeat of the plundering Idones, his killing a serpent on the river Sygaris, and his throwing the blood-thirsty Lytierses into the Maeander.27 He further gave to the island of Doliche the name of Icaria, as he buried in it the body of Icarus, which had been washed on shore by the waves. He also undertook an expedition to Colchis, which brought him in connection with the Argonauts;28 he took part in the Calydonian hunt, and met Theseus on his landing from Troezene on the Corinthian isthmus. An expedition to India, which was mentioned in some traditions, may likewise be inserted in this place.29

When the period of his servitude and his illness had passed away, he undertook an expedition against Troy, with eighteen ships and a band of heroes. On his landing, he entrusted the fleet to Oicles, and with his other companions made an attack upon the city. Laomedon in the mean time made an attack upon the ships, and slew Oicles, but was compelled to retreat into the city, where he was besieged. Telamon was the first who forced his way into the city, which roused the jealousy of Heracles to such a degree that he determined to kill him; but Telamon quickly collected a heap of stones, and pretended that he was building an altar to Heracles Cllinicus (Καλλίνικος) or Alexicacus (Ἀλεξίκακος). This soothed the anger of the hero; and after the sons of Laomedon had fallen, Heracles gave to Telamon Hesione, as a reward for his bravery.30

On his return from Troy, Hera sent a storm to impede his voyage, which compelled him to land in the island of Cos. The Meropes, the inhabitants of the island, took him for a pirate, and received him with a shower of stones; but during the night he took possession of the island, and killed the king, Eurypylus. Heracles himself was wounded by Chalcodon, but was saved by Zeus. After he had ravaged Cos, he went, by the command of Athena, to Phlegra, and fought against the Gigantes.31 Respecting his fight against the giants, who were, according to an oracle, to be conquered by a mortal, see especially Euripides.32 Among the giants defeated by him we find mention of Alcyoneus, a name borne by two among them.33

Soon after his return to Argos, Heracles marched against Augeas to chastise him for his breach of promise (see The Augean Stables, Heracles' fifth labor), and then proceeded to Pylos, which he took, and killed Periclymenus, a son of Neleus. He then advanced against Lacedaemon, to punish the sons of Hippocoon, for having assisted Neleus and slain Oeonus, the son of Licymnius.34 Heracles took Lacedaemon, and assigned the government of it to Tyndareus. On his return to Tegea, he became, by Auge, the father of Telephus, and then proceeded to Calydon, where he demanded Deianeira, the daughter of Oeneus, for his wife.

The adventures which now follow are of minor importance, such as the expedition against the Dryopians, and the assistance he gave to Aegimius, king of the Dorians, against the Lapiths; but as these events led to his catastrophe, it is necessary to subjoin a sketch of them.

Heracles had been married to Deianeira for nearly three years, when, at a repast in the house of Oeneus, he killed, by an accident, the boy Eunomus, the son of Architeles. The father of the boy pardoned the murder, as it had not been committed intentionally; but Heracles, in accordance with the law, went into exile with his wife Deianeira. On their road they came to the river Euenus, across which the centaur Nessus used to carry travelers for a small sum of money. Heracles himself forded the river, and gave Deianeira to Nessus to carry her across. Nessus attempted to outrage her: Heracles heard her screaming, and as the centaur brought her to the other side, Heracles shot an arrow into his heart. The dying centaur called out to Deianeira to take his blood with her, as it was a sure means for preserving the love of her husband.35 From the river Euenus, Heracles now proceeded through the country of the Dryopes, where he showed himself worthy of the epithet Buphagus, "the voracious," which is so often given to him, especially bv late writers, for in his hunger he took one of the oxen of Theiodamas, and consumed it all.

At last he arrived in Trachis, where he was kindly received by Ceyx, and conquered the Dryopes. He then assisted Aegimius, king of the Dorians, against the Lapiths, and without accepting a portion of the country which was offered to him as a reward. Laogoras, the king of the Dryopes, and his children, were slain. As Heracles proceeded to Iton, in Thessaly, he was challenged to single combat by Cycnus, a son of Ares and Pelopia;36 but Cycnus was slain. King Amyntor of Ormenion refused to allow Heracles to pass through his dominions, but had to pay for his presumption with his life.37

Heracles now returned to Trachis, and there collected an army to take vengeance on Eurytus of Oechalia. Apollodorus and Diodorus agree in making Heracles spend the last years of his life at Trachis, but Sophocles represents the matter in a very different light, for, according to him, Heracles was absent from Trachis upwards of fifteen months without Deianeira knowing where he was. During that period he was staying with Omphale in Lydia; and without returning home, he proceeded from Lydia at once to Oechalia, to gain possession of Iole, whom he loved.38 With the assistance of his allies, Heracles took the town of Oechalia, and slew Eurytus and his sons, but carried his daughter Iole with him as a prisoner. On his return home he landed at Cenaeum, a promontory of Euboea, and erected an altar to Zeus Cenaeus, and sent his companion, Lichas, to Trachis to fetch him a white garment, which he intended to use during the sacrifice.

Deianeira, who heard from Lichas respecting Iole, began to fear lest she should supplant her in the affection of her husband, to prevent which she steeped the white garment he had demanded in the preparation she had made from the blood of Nessus. Scarcely had the garment become warm on the body of Heracles, when the poison which was contained in the ointment, and had come into it from the poisoned arrow with which Heracles had killed Nessus, penetrated into all parts of his body, and caused him the most fearful pains. Heracles seized Lichas by his feet, and threw him into the sea. He wrenched off his garment, but it stuck to his flesh, and with it he tore whole pieces from his body. In this state he was conveyed to Trachis. Deianeira, on seeing what she had unwittingly done, hanged herself; and Heracles commanded Hyllus, his eldest son, by Deianeira, to marry Iole as soon as he should arrive at the age of manhood. He then ascended Mount Oeta, raised a pile of wood, ascended, and ordered it to be set on fire. No one ventured to obey him, until at length Poeas the shepherd, who passed by, was prevailed upon to comply with the desire of the suffering hero. When the pile was burning, a cloud came down from heaven, and amid peals of thunder carried him into Olympus, where he was honored with immortality, became reconciled with Hera, and married her daughter Hebe, by whom he became the father of Alexiares and Anicetus.39

The wives and children of Heracles are enumerated by Apollodorus,40 but we must refer the reader to the separate articles. We may, however, observe that among the very great number of his children, there are no daughters, and that Euripides is the only writer who mentions Macaria as a daughter of Heracles by Deianeira. We must also pass over the long series of his surnames, and proceed to give an account of his worship in Greece.

Immediately after the apotheosis of Heracles, his friends who were present at the termination of his earthly career offered sacrifices to him as a hero; and Menoetius established at Opus the worship of Heracles as a hero. This example was followed by the Thebans, until at length Heracles was worshiped throughout Greece as a divinity;41 but he, Dionysus and Pan, were regarded as the youngest gods, and his worship was practiced in two ways, for he was worshiped both as a god and as a hero.42 One of the most ancient temples of Heracles in Greece was that at Bura, in Achaea, where he had a peculiar oracle.43 In the neighborhood of Thermopylae, where Athena, to please him, had called forth the hot spring, there was an altar of Heracles, surnamed Melampygus (Μελάμπυγος);44 and it should be observed that hot springs in general were sacred to Heracles.45 In Phocis he had a temple under the name of μισογύνης (misogynēs), "woman hater"; and as at Rome, women were not allowed to take part in his worship, probably on account of his having been poisoned by Deianeira.46 But temples and sanctuaries of Heracles existed in all parts of Greece, especially in those inhabited by the Dorians. The sacrifices offered to him consisted principally of bulls, boars, rams and lambs.47 Respecting the festivals celebrated in his honor, see Dictionary of Antiquities, s.v. Ἠράκλεια.

The mythus of Heracles, as it has come down to us, has unquestionably been developed on Grecian soil; his name is Greek, and the substance of the fables also is of genuine Greek growth: the foreign additions which at a later age may have been incorporated with the Greek mythus can easily be recognized and separated from it. It is further clear that real historical elements are interwoven with the fables.

Before we conclude, we must add a few remarks respecting the Heracles of the East, and of the Celtic and Germanic nations. The ancients themselves expressly mention several heroes of the name of Heracles, who occur among the principal nations of the ancient world. Diodorus, e.g.,48 speaks of three, the most ancient of whom was the Egyptian, a son of Zeus, the second a Cretan, and one of the Idaean Dactyls, and the third or youngest was Heracles the son of Zeus by Alcmena, who lived shortly before the Trojan war, and to whom the feats of the earlier ones were ascribed. Cicero49 counts six heroes of this name, and he likewise makes the last and youngest the son of Zeus and Alcmena. Varro50 is said to have reckoned up forty-four heroes of this name, while Servius (l.c.) assumes only four, viz. the Tirynthian, the Argive, the Theban, and the Libyan Heracles.

Herodotus51 tells us that he made inquiries respecting Heracles: the Egyptian he found to be decidedly older than the Greek one; but the Egyptians referred him to Phoenicia as the original source of the traditions. The Egyptian Heracles, who is mentioned by many other writers besides Herodotus and Diodorus, is said to have been called by his Egyptian name Som or Dsom, or, according to others, Chon,52 and, according to Pausanias,53 Maceris. According to Diodorus,54 Som was a son of Amon (Zeus); but Cicero calls him a son of Nilus, while, according to Ptolemaeus Hephaestion, Heracles himself was originally called Nilus. This Egyptian Heracles was placed by the Egyptians in the second of the series of the evolutions of their gods.55

The Thebans placed him 17,000 years before king Amasis, and, according to Diodorus, 10,000 years before the Trojan war; whereas Macrobius56 states that he had no beginning at all. The Greek Heracles, according to Diodorus, became the heir of all the feats and exploits of his elder Egyptian namesake. The Egyptian Heracles, however, is also mentioned in the second class of the kings; so that the original divinity, by a process of anthropomorphism, appears as a man, and in this capacity he bears great resemblance to the Greek hero.57 This may, indeed, be a mere reflex of the Greek traditions, but the statement that Osiris, previous to his great expedition, entrusted Heracles with the government of Egypt, seems to be a genuine Egyptian legend. The other stories related about the Egyptian Heracles are of a mysterious nature, and unintelligible, but the great veneration in which he was held is attested by several authorities.58

Further traces of the worship of Heracles appear in Thasus, where Herodotus59 found a temple, said to have been built by the Phoenicians sent out in search of Europa, five generations previous to the time of the Greek Heracles. He was worshiped there principally in the character of a savior (σωτήρ,sōtēr60).

The Cretan Heracles, one of the Idaean Dactyls, was believed to have founded the temple of Zeus at Olympia,61 but to have originally come from Egypt.62 The traditions about him resemble those of the Greek Heracles;63 but it is said that he lived at a much earlier period than the Greek hero, and that the latter only imitated him. Eusebius states that his name was Diodas, and Hieronymus makes it Desanaus. He was worshiped with funeral sacrifices, and was regarded as a magician, like other ancient daemones of Crete.64

In India, also, we find a Heracles, who was called by the unintelligible name Dirsaner (Διρσάνηρ).65 The later Greeks believed that he was their own hero, who had visited India, and related that in India he became the father of many sons and daughters by Pandaea, and the ancestral hero of the Indian kings.66

The Phoenician Heracles, whom the Egyptians considered to be more ancient than their own, was probably identical with the Egyptian or Libyan Heracles. He was worshiped in all the Phoenician colonies, such as Carthage and Gades, down to the time of Constantine, and it is said that children were sacrificed to him.67

We become acquainted with the Celtic and Germanic Heracles in the accounts of the expedition of the Greek Heracles to Geryones.68 On his way home from fetching the cattle of Geryon (his tenth labor), he passed the Pyrenees and the Alps, founded Alesia and Nemausus in Gaul, became the father of the Celts, and then proceeded to the Ligurians, whose princes, Alebion and Dercynus, attempted to carry off his oxen, but were slain by him. In his contest with them, he was assisted by Zeus with a shower of stones, as he had not enough missiles; hence the Campus Lapideus between Massilia and the river Rhodanus. We must either suppose that the Greek Heracles was identified with native heroes of those northern countries, or that the notions about Heracles had been introduced there from the East.

For the worship of Heracles at Rome and Italy, see Hercules.

Spenser calls Heracles the Tirynthian Swain (Faerie Queene VI, xxx, 35) and Tirynthian Groom (Epithalamion, 329) because he generally resided at Tiryns, an ancient town of Argolis.


The works of art in which Heracles was represented were extremely numerous, and of the greatest variety, for he was represented at all the various stages of his life, from the cradle to his death; but whether he appears as a child, a youth, a struggling hero, or as the immortal inhabitant of Olympus, his character is always that of heroic strength and energy. Specimens of every kind are still extant. In the works of the archaic style he appeared as a man with heavy armor,69 but he is usually represented armed with a club, a Scythian bow, and a lion's skin. His head and eyes are small in proportion to the other parts of his body; his hair is short, bristly, and curly, his neck short, fat, and resembling that of a bull; the lower part of his forehead projects, and his expression is grave and serious; his shoulders, arms, breast, and legs display the highest physical strength, and the strong muscles suggest the unceasing and extraordinary exertions by which his life is characterised.

The representations of Heracles by Myron and Parrhasius approached nearest to the ideal which was at length produced by Lysippus. The so-called Farnesian Heracles, of which the torso still exists, is the work of Glycon, in imitation of one by Lysippus. It is the finest representation of the hero that has come down to us: he is resting, leaning on his right arm, while the left one is reclining on his head, and the whole figure is a most exquisite combination of peculiar softness with the greatest strength.70

Episodes of his life are found on numerous vases, sarcophagi, reliefs, and frescoes. In Pompeii: as a small child strangling serpents (Casa dei Vettii); Heracles and Omphale (Casa di Sirico); Heracles in the garden of the Hesperides (Casa di Sacerdote Amando), etc. A bronze from Herculaneum shows him as a beardless young man wrestling the stag of Artemis. The Twelve Labors were the subject of the metopes at the temple of Hephaestus at Athens and of the temple of Zeus at Olympia. The many depictions of Heracles on vases include, among others, the scene with Busiris and the one where Heracles shows Cerberus to a frightened Eurystheus (both on the hydra of Caere, mid-sixth century BCE).



  1. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 8.
  2. Iliad xviii, 118.
  3. Iliad xiv, 250, 323; xix, 98; Odyssey xii, 266, 620; xxi, 25, 36.
  4. Iliad v, 392; Odyssey xii, 269; Hesiod. Shield of Heracles, 165.
  5. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.7 ff.; Hyginus. Fabulae, 29; Shield of Heracles, 3.5 ff.; Pindar. Isthmian Odes vii, 5 ff.; Nemean Odes x, 19 ff.; Scholiast on Homer's Odyssey xii, 266.
  6. Homer. Iliad xix, 95 ff.; Shield of Heracles, 1-56, 80 ff.; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.5 ff.
  7. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 9.
  8. ibid. iv, 10.
  9. Hercules Furens, 18.
  10. Nemean Odes i, 49 ff.
  11. Comp. Theocritus. Idylls xxiv, 1 ff.; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.8.
  12. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 9; Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 25.2.
  13. Eratosthenes. Catasterismi, 44; Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy ii, in fin.
  14. Idylls xxiv, 114, 103, 108; Scholiast on Theocritus, xiii, 9, 56; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 49.
  15. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.9; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iii, 66; Aelian. Varia Historia iii, 32.
  16. Isthmian Odes iv, 53.
  17. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.10; comp. Hyginus. Fabulae, 162; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 29; Athenaeus, xiii, p. 556.
  18. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.11; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 10 ff.; Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 37. 2; Theocritus. Idylls xvi, 105; Euripides. Hercules Furens, 41.
  19. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.11. 7.8; Hyginus. Fabulae, 32; Euripides. Hercules Furens, 995; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 38; Scholiast on Pindar's Isthmian Odes iii, 104.
  20. Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica i, 1196; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 14.
  21. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.12.
  22. Euripides. Hercules Furens, 1000 ff.; Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 11.1; Hyginus. Fabulae, 32; Scholiast on Pindar's Isthmian Odes iii, 104.
  23. Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 29.
  24. Hyginus. Fabulae, 32; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 38.
  25. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 6.1, 2; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 31 ff.; Homer. Iliad ii, 730; Odyssey xxi, 22 ff.; Sophocles. Trachiniae, 273 ff.
  26. Ovid. Fasti ii, 305, Heroid. ix, 53; Seneca. Phaedra, 317; Hercules Furens, 464; Lucian. Dialogues of the Gods xiii, 2; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 6.3; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 31 ff.
  27. Comp. Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy ii, 14; Scholiast on Theocritus, x, 41; Athenaeus, x, p. 415.
  28. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 9.16; Herodotus. Histories vii, 193; Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, i, 1289; Antoninus Liberalis, 26.
  29. Philostratus. Life of Apollonius of Tyana iii, 4, 6; Arrian. Indica, 8, 9.
  30. Homer. Iliad v, 641 ff.; xiv, 251; xx, 145 ff.; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 6.4; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 32, 49; Euripides. Trojan Women, 802 ff.
  31. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 7.1; Homer. Iliad xiv, 250 ff.; Pindar. Nemean Odes iv, 40.
  32. Hercules Furens, 177 ff., 852, 1190 ff., 1272.
  33. Pindar. Nemean Odes iv, 43; Isthmian Odes vi, 47.
  34. Pausanias. Description of Greece iii, 15.2; ii, 18.6; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 7.3; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 33.
  35. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 7.6; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 36; Sophocles. Trachiniae, 555 ff.; Ovid. Metamorphoses ix, 201 ff.; Seneca. Hercules Oetaeus, 496 ff.; Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 38.1.
  36. Hesiod. Shield of Heracles, 58 ff.
  37. Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 7.7; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 36 ff.
  38. Sophocles. Trachiniae, 44 ff., 248 ff., 351 ff.
  39. Homer. Odyssey xii, 600 ff.; Hesiod. Theogony, 949 ff.; Sophocles, l.c.; Philoctetes, 802; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 7.7; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 38; Ovid. Metamorphoses ix, 155 ff.; Herodotus. Histories vii, 198; Conon. Narratives, 17; Pausanias. Description of Greece iii, 18.7; Pindar. Nemean Odes i, in fin.; x, 31 ff.; Isthmian Odes iv, 55 ff.; Virgil. Aeneid viii, 300, and many other writers.
  40. The Library ii, 7.8.
  41. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 39; Euripides. Hercules Furens, 1331.
  42. Herodotus. Histories ii, 44, 145.
  43. Pausanias. Description of Greece vii, 25.6; Plutarch. De Herodoti Malignitate, 31.
  44. Scholiast on Aristophanes' Clouds, 1047; Herodotus. Histories vii, 176.
  45. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library v, 3; Scholiast on Pindar's Olympian Odes xii, 25; Livy. The History of Rome xxii, 1; Strabo. Geography pp. 60, 172, 425, 428.
  46. Plutarch. Roman Questions, 57, de Pyth. Orac. 20; Macrobius. Saturnalia i, 12.
  47. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 39; Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 10.1.
  48. Historical Library iii, 73, comp. i, 24, v, 64, 76.
  49. On the Nature of the Gods iii, 16.
  50. ap. Servius on Virgil's Aeneid viii, 564.
  51. Histories ii, 42 ff.
  52. Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Χῶν.
  53. Description of Greece x, 17.2.
  54. Historical Library i, 24.
  55. Diodorus Siculus, l.c.; Herodotus. Histories ii, 43, 145, iii, 73; Tacitus. Annales ii, 6.
  56. Saturnalia i, 20.
  57. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library i, 17, 24, iii, 73.
  58. Herodotus. Histories ii, 113; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library v, 76; Tacitus. Annales ii, 60; Macrobius. Saturnalia i, 20.
  59. Histories ii, 44.
  60. Pausanias. Description of Greece v, 25.7; vi, 11.2.
  61. ibid. v, 13.5.
  62. Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 18.
  63. ibid. v, 76; Pausanias. Description of Greece ix, 27.5.
  64. Cicero. On the Nature of the Gods iii, 16; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library v, 64.
  65. Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia vi, 16, 22; Hesychius, s.v. Δορσάνηρ.
  66. Arrian. Indica, 8, 9; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library ii, 39; xvii, 85, 96; Philostratus. Life of Apollonius of Tyana iii, 46.
  67. Pliny the Elder. Naturalis Historia xxxvi, 5.
  68. Herodotus. Histories i, 7; ii, 45, 91, 113; iv, 82; Pindar. Olympian Odes iii, 11 ff.; Tacitus. Germania, 3, 9.
  69. Pausanias. Description of Greece iii, 15.7.
  70. Müller, C. O. (1830). Handbuch der Archäologie der Kunst, p. 640 ff. (2nd ed.); Hagen, E. A. (1827). De Herculis Laboribus Qua Ratione In Antiquis Monumentis Sint Expressi Dissertatio Archaeologia: Quam Conscripsit, Regiomont.


  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.