Eurystheus was the son of Sthenelus and Nicippe. The goddess Hera accelerated his birth so that the throne of Mycenae and the Argolid would fall to him rather than Heracles, the illegitimate son of her husband Zeus and therefore her enemy.
The rivalry between Eurystheus and Heracles continued for the rest of the two men’s lives, even beyond. Heracles was commanded to perform his Twelve Labors as Eursytheus’ slave, and Eurystheus did his best to make these labors as grueling as possible. Even after Heracles’ death, Eurystheus hounded his children and descendants until they defeated and killed him in battle.
In ancient literature and art, Eurystheus was usually depicted as a cruel and cowardly man, even going so far as to hide in a large jar when Heracles came to report to him. He was said to have been buried in the region of Attica, and was sometimes even viewed as a protector of the region against Heracles’ Dorian descendants.