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The Return of the HERACLIDES

Warrior. 8806: Stående kriger. Graesk, arkaisk 485-480 f.Kr. Marmor, fra Aphaia-templet på Aigina, østgavlen fig. II. Glyptothek München (Royal Cast Collection, Copenhagen).

The HERACLIDES are the descendants of Heracles 1. On their return, disturbances took place throughout the whole of the Peloponnesus except Arcadia, so that many cities received additional settlers from the Dorian race, their inhabitants suffering yet more revolutions. The HERACLIDES attacked the Peloponnesus and captured all the cities. It took them three generations to achieve this conquest. The HERACLIDES claimed power in the Peloponnesus because they were descended, through Heracles 1, from Perseus 1, founder of Mycenae, while Tisamenus 2, who at the time ruled the Peloponnessus, was a Pelopid (descendant of Pelops 1) (see also Pelopides).

Death of Eurystheus

After the death of Heracles 1, his sons were pursued by Eurystheus, and having come to Athens, they claimed protection. The Athenians refused to surrender them, and in the war that ensued Eurystheus' sons were killed. Eurystheus himself, who had fled in a chariot, was pursued and had his head cut off by Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. Alcmena, Heracles 1's mother, received Eurystheus' head from Hyllus 1, and gouged out the eyes with weaving-pins.

The HERACLIDES capture the Peloponnesus, but retire

After the death of Eurystheus, the HERACLIDES attacked the Peloponnesus, capturing all the cities. But a plague ravaged the country, and an oracle declared that this happened because the HERACLIDES had returned before the proper time. So they retired, and after some unfortunate attempts to return, they made themselves masters of the Peloponnesus three generations later.

Their claims

The HERACLIDES claimed power in the Peloponnesus because they were descended, through Heracles 1, from Perseus 1, the founder of Mycenae, while Tisamenus 2 was a Pelopid, a descendant of Pelops 1 (see also Pelopides). They also claimed that Tyndareus had been expelled by Hippocoon 2, and they argued that Heracles 1, having killed Hippocoon 2 and his sons, had given the land in trust to Tyndareus.

First attempt

Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1, sought to effect the return of the HERACLIDES. So he went to Delphi and inquired how they should return, and the oracle declared that they

… should await the third crop before returning … (Apollodorus 2.8.2).

But Hyllus 1 supposed that the third crop signified three years, and having waited that time, he returned with his army to Peloponnesus, when Tisamenus 2, son of Orestes 2, son of Agamemnon, was ruling the Peloponnesus. However, he failed and was killed by Echemus.

New inquire

As Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, had been also killed in battle, his son Temenus 2 inquired of the Oracle concerning their return. And the Oracle having given the same answer as before, Temenus 2 blamed it, saying that when they had obeyed the oracle they had been unfortunate. But the Oracle answered that they were themselves to blame, for they did not understand the prophecies, seeing that by "the third crop" it was meant, not a crop of the earth, but a crop of a generation.

Second attempt

When Temenus 2 now gained insight, he made ready the army and built ships at Naupactus (a harbor in Ozolian Locris). While the army was there, Aristodemus (Temenus 2's brother) was killed by a thunderbolt, leaving twin sons, Eurysthenes 1 and Procles 2. And something else happened to the army at Naupactus. There appeared to them a soothsayer Carnus reciting oracles, whom they took for a magician sent by the Peloponnesians to be the ruin of the army. So Hippotes 2 (son of Phylas 2, son of Antiochus 1, son of Heracles 1) threw a javelin at him, and killed him. But Carnus was an Acarnanian, seer of Apollo, and the one who established the cult of Apollo Carneus among the Dorians. And when this man had been killed, the naval force was destroyed, and the army suffered from famine, and disbanded.

Yet another inquire

When the HERACLIDES thus had suffered these heavy losses, Temenus 2 inquired of the Oracle concerning the calamity. The Oracle then said that these things were done by the seer, and advised him to banish the slayer Hippotes 2 for ten years, and to take for his guide the Three-Eyed One.

The Three-Eyed One

So the HERACLIDES banished Hippotes 2, and started searching for the Three-Eyed One. And one day they met Oxylus 2, who was sitting on a one-eyed horse. So guessing he was the man described by the Oracle, they made him their guide. Some say that Oxylus 2 was son of Andraemon 2. But others say he was son of Haemon 2, son of Thoas 2, son of Andraemon 1, the Leader of the Aetolians during the Trojan War. Oxylus 2 had fled from Aetolia to Elis on account of the murder of Thermius, or Alcidocus. It is said that as he was throwing the quoit he missed the mark and committed unintentional homicide. The man killed by the quoit, according to one account, was Thermius, the brother of Oxylus 2; according to another it was Alcidocus. Oxylus 2 became king of Elis after the victory of the HERACLIDES.

Third attempt

So, having Oxylus 2 as guide, the HERACLIDES invaded the Peloponnesus again, and having engaged the Peloponnesians in battle, they defeated them and slew Tisamenus 2, the last of the Pelopides to rule the Peloponnesus.

Kingdoms allotted

The return of the HERACLIDES took place three generations after the end of the Trojan War and the death of Nestor after his return home. When the HERACLIDES conquered the Peloponnesus, they cast lots for the cities. Argos was then allotted to Temenus 2. In Lacedaemon and Sparta, as the sons of Aristodemus were twins (Procles 2 and Eurysthenes 1), there arose two royal houses. Messenia was allotted to Cresphontes, who drove the descendants of Nestor from Messenia. It is said that on the altars on which they sacrificed, the HERACLIDES found signs: They who got Argos found a toad; those who got Lacedaemon found a serpent; and those who got Messenia found a fox. These signs were explained by the seers, who declared that those who found the toad had better stay in the city as that animal has no strength when walking. They said that those who found the serpent would be terrible in attack, and that those who found the fox would be wily.

List of those called HERACLIDES
The "First Crop" 

Alcaeus 6. Son of Heracles 1 and Omphale. Father of Belus 3 (see also Croesus) (Hdt.1.7).

Antiochus 1. Son of Heracles 1 & Meda 1. Father of Phylas 2 (Apd.2.8.3; Pau.1.5.2).

Cleodaeus 2. Son of Hyllus 1 & Iole. Father of Aristomachus 2 and Lanassa (Apd.2.8.2; Hdt.6.52, 7.204, 8.131; Pau.2.7.6, 3.15.10; Plu.Pyrrh.1.2).

Ctesippus 1. Son of Heracles 1 and Astydamia 2, daughter either of Amyntor 1, son of Ormenus 3, son of Cercaphus 2, son of Aeolus 1, or of Ormenius 1, king of Pelasgiotis or Pelasgia (Peloponnesus) (Apd.2.7.8; Dio.4.37.4).

Ctesippus 4. Son of Heracles 1 and Deianira 1, and father of Thrasyanor (Apd.2.7.8; Pau.2.19.1).

Hyllus 1. Son of Heracles 1 by Deianira 1 or Melite 2. Father by Iole of Cleodaeus 2 and Evaechme 2 (see main text above) (Apd.2.7.8, 2.8.1-2; Arg.4.538, 4.551; Dio.4.36.3, 4.58.4; Hdt.6.52, 7.204, 8.131, 9.26; Pau.3.15.10, 4.2.1, 8.5.1; Soph.Tra.61 and passim).

Phaestus 2. Son of Heracles 1. Father of Rhopalus. He became king of Sicyon after Ianiscus' death and later emigrated to Crete in obedience to an oracle (Pau.2.6.6).

The "Second Crop" 

Agamedidas. Agamedidas was great-grandson of Ctesippus 1 and king of Cleonae, a city northeast of Nemea. He is father of Thersander 3 (Pau.3.16.6).

Antimachus 2. Son of Thrasyanor and father of Deiphontes (Pau.2.19.1).

Aristodemus. Aristodemus was son of Aristomachus 2, son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. By his wife Argia 4 he became the father of the twins Eurysthenes 1 and Procles 2, who are the founders of the two royal houses of Sparta. Aristodemus was killed by a thunderbolt, or by Apollo, although it is also said that he was murdered by the sons of Pylades and Electra 2 (Apd.2.8.2-3; Hdt.6.52, 7.204, 8.131; Pau.2.18.7, 3.1.6).

Aristomachus 2. Aristomachus 2 failed to understand an oracle, and therefore failed to return to the Peloponnesus, being slain in battle. He was the son of Cleodaeus 2, son of Hyllus 1, son of Heracles 1. His sons were Temenus 2, Cresphontes, and Aristodemus (Apd.2.8.2; Hdt.6.52, 7.204, 8.131; Pau.2.7.6, 2.18.7).

Hippolytus 5. Son of Rhopalus, son of Phaestus 2, son of Heracles 1. While being king of Sicyon after Zeuxippus, Hippolytus 5 was attacked by the Mycenaeans and agreed to become subject to Agamemnon. He was father of Lacestades (Pau.2.6.7).

Hippotes 2. Son of Phylas 2 and Leipephilene, and father of Aletes 2. He killed Carnus, a magician he thought to be sent by the Peloponnesians, and for that he was banished (see main text above) (Apd.2.8.3; Pau.2.4.3, 9.40.6).

Phylas 2. Son of Antiochus 1. Father by Leipephilene of Hippotes 2 and Thero 2. Leipephilene was daughter of Iolaus, the charioteer of Heracles 1. Iolaus was son of Iphicles, son of Amphitryon & Alcmena, mother of Heracles 1 (Apd.2.8.3; Pau.9.40.5-6).

Rhopalus. Rhopalus, a Sicyonian, was son of Phaestus 2 and father of Hippolytus 5 (Pau.2.6.7).

Thersander 3. From Cleonae. Son of Agamedidas. Father of Lathria and Anaxandra (Pau.3.16.6).

Thrasyanor. Son of Ctessipus 4. Father of Antimachus 2 (Pau.2.19.1).

The Victorious "Third Crop" 

Agelaus 3. Son of Temenus 2. Together with his brothers, conspired against his father and murdered him (Apd.2.8.5).

Agraeus 1. Son of Temenus 2. The youngest of the brothers who disapproved their conspirative plan against Temenus 2 (Pau.2.28.3).

Aletes 2. Son of Hippotes 2. He led the HERACLIDES against Corinth and took the throne from Doridas and Hyanthidas (Pau.2.4.3).

Anaxandra. Daughter of Thersander 3. Mother by Eurysthenes 1 of King Agis 1 of Sparta (Pau.3.2.1, 3.16.6).

Callias. Son of Temenus 2 (Apd.2.8.5).

Cerynes. Son of Temenus 2. During the conspiracy against his father Temenus 2, Cerynes kidnapped his sister Hyrnetho, who was married to the general that Temenus 2 favored. Cerynes was killed by Deiphontes (Pau.2.28.3-5).

Cisus. Son of Temenus 2. Father by Araethyrea of Phlias and Medon 8. Plotted against his father as the latter preferred Deiphontes to his own sons. King of Argos after Deiphontes (Pau.2.12.6, 2.19.1, 2.28.3).

Cresphontes. Son of Aristomachus 2. Father by Merope 2 of Aepytus 2. Cresphontes received the kingdom of Messenia while casting lots with Procles 2 and Eurysthenes 1. His government for the most part was directed in favor of the people, and for this reason the rich rebelled and killed him and all his sons except Aepytus 2. Cresphontes was killed by the usurper Polyphontes 3 (see below) (Apd.2.8.4-5; Hyg.Fab.137; Pau.2.18.7, 4.3.7-8).

Deiphontes. Son of Antimachus 2. Deiphontes, who was married to Hyrnetho, daughter of Temenus 2, was openly employed as general in war and as adviser on all occasions by his father-in-law, who favored his daughter instead of his sons. This was disliked by the sons of Temenus 2, who in the course of a conspiracy killed their father. However the army decided that the kingdom belonged to Hyrnetho and Deiphontes. Deiphontes had children by Hyrnetho: Antimenes, Xanthippus 1, Argeus 2, and Orsobia (Apd.2.8.5; Pau.2.19.1, 2.28.3ff.).

Eurypylus 5. Son of Temenus 2. Together with his brothers he hired some fellows to murder his father (for this conspiracy see Deiphontes) (Apd.2.8.5).

Eurysthenes 1. Son of Aristodemus & Argia 4. Father by Anaxandra of King Agis 1. Eurysthenes 1 and his twin brother Procles 2 were bitter enemies, but they won by lot the kingdom of Lacedaemon. They decided to institute two royal houses in Lacedaemon (Sparta) (Apd.2.8.2-5; Hdt.4.147, 6.52, 7.204; Pau.3.1.5-7, 4.3.4ff., 3.2.1, 3.16.6).

Hyrnetho. Daughter of Temenus 2. In the course of the coup d'état that her brothers conceived Hyrnetho refused to conspire with them against her father Temenus 2 and her husband Deiphontes and was kidnapped by them. Some say she was killed by her brother Phalces 2 while she was pregnant (Apd.2.8.5; Pau.2.28.3ff.).

Isthmius 1. Son of Temenus 2. King Isthmius 1 helped Aepytus 2. Aepytus 2 was the sole survivor of his house. He was in time able to punish the murderers of his father Cresphontes after becoming King of Messenia (Pau.4.3.7).

Lacestades. Son of Hippolytus 5, son of Rhopalus, son of Phaestus 2, son of Heracles 1. King of Sicyon. Lacestades was spared by Phalces 2 when Sicyon was taken by the HERACLIDES because he too was one of the them (Pau.2.6.7).

Lathria. Daughter of Thersander 3. Mother by Procles 2 of King Sous of Sparta (Pau.3.7.1, 3.16.6).

Phalces 2. Son of Temenus 2. During the invasion Phalces 2 surprised Sicyon by night and spared King Lacestades because he too was one of the HERACLIDES, and made him partner in the kingdom (Pau.2.6.7, 2.13.1, 2.28.3).

Procles 2. Son of Aristodemus & Argia 4. Father by Lathria of Sous and Eurypon. Procles 2 and his twin brother Eurysthenes 1 were bitter enemies, but they won by lot the kingdom of Lacedaemon and decided to institute two royal houses in Lacedaemon (Sparta) (Apd.2.8.2-5; Pau.3.1.5-7, 3.7.1, 3.16.6, 4.3.4ff.; Strab.8.5.5).

Temenus 2. Son of Aristomachus 2. Father of Agelaus 3, Eurypylus 5, Callias and Hyrnetho. According to another version his children were: Cisus, Cerynes, Phalces 2, Agraeus 1, Isthmius 1 and Hyrnetho. Temenus 2 made the HERACLIDES masters of the Peloponnesus and received Argos as his part. Temenium, in Argive territory, was named after him. He favored in all matters his daughter Hyrnetho and her husband Deiphontes, and for this reason he was conspired against by his own sons who had him murdered (Apd.2.8.4-5; Pau.2.18.7, 2.28.3, 2.38.1, 4.3.7).

Also the following have been called "HERACLIDES" 

Agron 2. Agron 2 is said to be the first of the HERACLIDES to become king of Sardes (Lydia) (see also Croesus). He is son of Ninus, the Assyrian who founded Nineveh. Ninus was son of Belus 3, son of Alcaeus 6, son of Heracles 1 and Omphale (Hdt.1.7).

Archelaus 5. Archelaus 5 was driven into exile by his brothers, came to the court of Cisseus 4 in Macedonia and was promised both the kingdom and the king's daughter, but was almost treacherously killed by the king. His father was Temenus 4, son of Heracles 1 (Hyg.Fab.219).

Belus 3. Son of Alcaeus 6, son of Heracles 1 & Omphale. Belus 3, who is counted among the HERACLIDES, is also called father of Ninus, the founder of Nineveh and husband of Semiramis (see also Croesus) (Hdt.1.7).

Boeus. Founder of Boeae, a city in the easternmost Peloponnesian promontory (Pau.3.22.11).

Ninus. Son of Belus 3. Father of Agron 2. King of Assyria and founder of Nineveh. He was murdered by his wife Semiramis, founder and Queen of Babylonia (see also Croesus) (Dio.2.7.1; Hdt.1.7; Hyg.Fab.240; Ov.Met.4.88; Strab.2.1.31).

Polyphontes 3. Counted as one of the HERACLIDES. Parentage unknown. He came to the throne of Messenia after Cresphontes, and took to wife, against her will, the wife of the murdered man, Merope 2. He was killed by Aepytus 2, son of Cresphontes (Apd.2.8.5).


Contextual Charts

Names in this chart: Agamedidas, Agelaus 3, Agraeus 1, Agron 2, Alcaeus 6, Aletes 2, Anaxandra, Antimachus 2, Antiochus 1, Aristodemus, Aristomachus 2, Belus 3, Callias, Cerynes, Cisus, Cleodaeus 2, Cresphontes, Ctesippus 1, Ctesippus 4, Deiphontes, Eurypylus 5, Eurysthenes 1, Heracles 1, Hippolytus 5, Hippotes 2, Hyllus 1, Hyrnetho, Isthmius 1, Lacestades, Lathria, Ninus, Phaestus 2, Phalces 2, Phylas 2, Procles 2, Rhopalus, Temenus 2, Thersander 3, Thrasyanor, Tlepolemus 1.

Related sections Heracles 1, The Pelopides

Apd.2.7.8, 2.8.1-5; Arg.4.538, 4.551; Dio.2.7.1, 4.36.3, 4.37.4, 4.58.4; Hdt.1.7, 4.147, 6.52, 7.204, 8.131; Hyg.Fab.137, 219, 240; Ov.Met.4.88; Pau.1.5.2, 2.4.3, 2.6.6-7, 2.7.6, 2.12.6, 2.13.1, 2.18.7, 2.19.1, 2.28.3ff., 2.38.1, 3.1.5-7, 3.2.1, 3.7.1, 3.15.10, 3.16.6, 3.22.11, 4.2.1, 4.3.3ff., 4.3.7-8, 8.5.1, 9.40.5-6; Plu.Pyrrh.1.2; Soph.Tra.61 and passim; Strab.2.1.31, Strab.8.5.5.