In This Chapter

The Life of Herakles and Return of the Heraklids

Authored by: Robin Hard

The Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology

Print publication date:  June  2008
Online publication date:  October  2003

Print ISBN: 9780415186360
eBook ISBN: 9780203446331
Adobe ISBN: 9781134664061


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Although Herakles was an Argive of Perseid stock by descent, he was born abroad in Thebes after his putative father AMPHITRYON departed into exile with his mother ALKMENE. As was described at the end of the last chapter, Amphitryon was exiled by his uncle Sthenelos for having killed another uncle, Elektryon, king of Mycenae (by accident in the usual account); and Alkmene, the daughter of Elektryon, who was already betrothed to him, accompanied him to his new home, as did Likymnios, her only surviving brother. Her other brothers had all been killed by Teleboan raiders shortly before the death of her father (see p. 244 for the circumstances). Kreon, the current ruler of Thebes, purified Amphitryon of the manslaughter and welcomed him to his city. Although Amphitryon now pressed Alkmene to marry him (or to consummate their marriage if they were already married), she declared that she would not accept him into her bed until he had exacted vengeance on the Teleboans for the death of her brothers.1 So he made immediate preparations for a campaign against the Teleboans, who lived in a group of islands just outside the entrance of the Corinthian Gulf; and his forthcoming absence would provide Zeus with an ideal opportunity to approach Alkmene to father his great son Herakles.

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