Premature Birth of Eurystheus and the Delayed Birth of Hercules
Birth Order of Descendants of Perseus Hercules and Eurystheus
Births of Hercules and Eurystheus
Hera, the jealous queen of the gods, the sister and wife of Zeus, pursued and harassed the great hero Hercules (Greek: Herakles or Heracles, meaning "glory of Hera") from even before his birth until his death and apotheosis. When Hercules' mother Alcmene was due to give birth to him, the goddess of childbearing crossed her own legs and hands, a form of sympathetic magic that blocked Hercules' entrance to the world of light. This wasn't just to punish Alcmene for having had an affair with her husband Zeus. Hera also wanted to make sure Perseus' grandson Eurystheus would be born before Alcmene's son, because Zeus had promised the first born son of his and Perseus' blood would become king.
'Hearken unto me, all ye gods and goddesses, that I may speak what the heart in my breast biddeth me. This day shall Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, bring to the light a man that shall be the lord of all them that dwell round about, even one of the race of those men who are of me by blood.'
Iliad Book XIX 101-105.
Hera accomplished her goal. Eurystheus, born two months prematurely, was destined to be king of Mycenae and lord over his week-late-cousin-once-removed Hercules.
Next page > Madness of Hercules and Atonement, Hercules' Labors: The Sources, Labor 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
© 2001-2007 N.S. Gill