Greek Hero


Italian statue of Iphicles saved from a serpent by Hercules

Italian statue of Iphicles saved from a serpent by his brother Hercules (ca. 1450)

The Metropolitan Museum of ArtPublic Domain


Iphicles was the son of Alcmene and Amphitryon and thus the half-brother of Heracles. Despite having different fathers, the two heroes were considered twins, conceived on the same night. Iphicles married Automedusa, the daughter of Alcathous. Together they had a son, Iolaus, who helped Heracles through most of his adventures.

Though not as impressive as his godlike half-brother, Iphicles was a hero in his own right, taking part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt and accompanying Heracles on a handful of his exploits. Iphicles was killed fighting either the sons of Hippocoon or the Molionidae. He was worshipped as a hero in the Peloponnese.[1]

Who was Iphicles’ son?

Iphicles’ son was Iolaus, who aided Heracles in virtually all of his adventures. In fact, Iolaus features much more prominently in the mythology of Heracles than that of Iphicles.

In some traditions, Iphicles had two other children, but they were killed by Heracles during the hero’s madness—a madness that also drove Heracles to murder his own children (and, according to some sources, his wife Megara as well).

Vase painting of Heracles and Iolaus fighting Cycnus

Attic black-figure neck amphora depicting Heracles (left) and Iolaus (right) fighting Cycnus (center), attributed to the Painter of Oxford 569 or to the Leagros Group (ca. 510–500 BCE)

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe HamburgCC BY 3.0

The Birth of Heracles and Iphicles

Heracles and Iphicles were twins who shared a mother but had different fathers. Alcmene, the wife of Amphitryon, had been seduced by Zeus, who came to her disguised as Amphitryon. Later that same night, Alcmene slept with the real Amphitryon as well. As a result, she bore two sons: Iphicles, the son of Amphitryon, and Heracles, the son of Zeus.

From the very beginning, it was clear that Heracles and Amphitryon had different fathers. When the twins were still very small, the goddess Hera sent two snakes to their crib to destroy Heracles (she hated the boy because he was the result of one of her husband’s many affairs). While Iphicles cried in terror, Heracles easily strangled the snakes.

Hercules Strangling Two Snakes in his Cradle

Hercules Strangling Two Snakes in his Cradle (ca. 1485–1505)