Re: Hercules

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Mar 10 1997 - 17:22:37 EST

At 3:46 PM -0600 3/10/97, Jim Brooks wrote:
>This question doesn't have much to with Greek except in a vague, tangential
>way, so my apologies. But I'm sure someone will be answer rather quickly.
>What were the names of the gods who were Hercules' parents?

Zeus, so the story goes, came to the bed of Heracles' mortal mother,
Alcmena, in the guise of her betrothed husband, Amphitryon, who was away
>from the city of Thebes fighting at the time, doubled the length of the
night and managed to depart before the arrival, while it was still night,
of Amphitryon, who also lay with her. By morning Alcmena was pregnant with
twin sons, an immortal Heracles, whose father was Zeus, and a mortal
Iphicles, whose father was Amphitryon. Heracles (Greek form of the name, as
Hercules is the Latin form) thus had a mortal mother and a divine father.
The story is a bit more complicated still than that, but that's it in a

In order to give this snippet a B-Greek connection, it might be noted that,
particularly in later and Roman tradition, the myths of Hercules came
increasingly to be interpreted in terms of a distinctly Greek "suffering
servant" pattern, one that is analogous, mutatis mutandis, to the Biblical
pattern of Isaiah that became the model in terms of which Christians
understood the event of Christ. That too is a considerably more complicated
story, albeit a very interesting one in its own right.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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