Oechalian Princess


The Labors of Hercules: Hercules Abducting Iole by Hans Sebald Beham

The Labors of Hercules: Hercules Abducting Iole, engraving by Hans Sebald Beham (1544)

Cleveland Museum of ArtCC0


Iole was a princess of Oechalia, the daughter of King Eurytus and his wife Antiope. She is best remembered as an object of lust for the hero Heracles

Though Heracles won Iole fair and square in an archery contest, Eurytus refused to give up his daughter. According to most accounts, this was because Heracles had killed his own children from his first marriage. Eurytus sought to spare Iole and her future children from a similar fate.

Later, Heracles murdered Iole’s brother Iphitus and was sent to serve the Lydian queen Omphale as punishment. Following this period of servitude, Heracles returned to Oechalia, destroyed the kingdom, and took Iole home with him to Trachis. 

Upon seeing Heracles’ new concubine, his wife Deianira grew jealous and tried to win him back by sprinkling his shirt with a love potion. Unfortunately, this so-called potion was actually the venomous blood of the Hydra, which ended up killing the great hero.

After Heracles’ death, Iole married his son Hyllus.[1]