A son of Iphicles and Automedusa, and consequently a relation of Heracles, whose faithful charioteer and companion he was. He is especially celebrated for his attachment to the descendants of the hero, even after his death, for he is said to have come to their assistance from the lower world; for when Eurystheus demanded of the Athenians the surrender of the children of Heracles, who had been kindly received there, Iolaus, who was already dead, begged of the gods of the lower world permission to return to life, to assist the children of his master. The request being granted, he returned to the upper world, slew Eurystheus, and then went to rest again.1

After Heracles had instituted the Olympian games, Iolaus won the victory with the horses of his master, and Heracles sent him to Sardinia at the head of his sons whom he had by the daughters of Thespius. He there took from the savage inhabitants the finest portions of their country, civilized them, and was afterwards honored by them with divine worship. From Sardinia he went to Sicily, and then returned to Heracles shortly before the death of the latter. After the burning of Heracles, when his remains could not be discovered, Iolaus was the first that offered sacrifices to him as a demigod.2

According to Pausanias,3 Iolaus died in Sardinia, whereas, according to Pindar,4 he was buried in the tomb of his grandfather, Amphitryon, and was worshiped as a hero. His descendants in Sardinia were called Iolaeis (Ἰολαεῖς)5 and Iolaenses, and in the time of Pausanias,6 a town Iolaia still existed in Sardinia, where Iolaus was worshiped as a hero.



  1. Pindar. Pythian Odes ix, 137; Euripides. Heraclidae.
  2. Pausanias. Description of Greece v, 29; Diodorus Siculus. Historical Library iv, 29, 30, 40.
  3. Description of Greece ix, 23.
  4. Olympian Odes ix, 149; Pythian Odes ix, 137; Hyginus. Fabulae, 103; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 4.11, 5.2, 6.1.
  5. Strabo. Geography v, p. 225.
  6. Description of Greece x, 17.4.


  • 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.