Hercules, with his massive reputation as a hero in Greek mythology, casts a huge shadow over his brother, Iphicles. Most people who have minimal knowledge ofthe Greek Gods and Goddesses do not know that Hercules had a brother, let alone that he had a twin; which, he does. They were born only one night apart.
Although they were twins, they had different characteristics and personalities because of how Hercules was immortal, and Iphicles was not. Greek mythology always presents an interesting way of connecting relationships in a family.You would never want to draw out the family tree of the gods because of the difficulty you would have, but Hercules and Iphicles were meant to be brothers.
Iphicles and Hercules went on several expeditions and adventures together and stayed close to one another up until Iphicles’s death, which hurt Hercules dearly. Iphicles and Hercules are both represented in Grecian art and on relief sculptures, but Hercules has more pieces that focus directly on him.
Hercules Name Confusion
When you research information on Hercules and his brother, Iphicles, be aware that you may see the name, Heracles, which is a different spelling for the name Hercules. When referenced in Greek mythology, he has the name Heracles, his Greek name; but he was better known as Hercules to the Romans. Heracles is the name he received at birth.
Hercules Family Tree
Hercules and Iphicles had the same mother, Alcmene, butdifferent fathers. Hercules’s dad was Zeus, and Iphicles’s was Amphitryon. Hercules and his brother are twins in mythology, even though, by definition, they aren’t in today’s sense of the term. Greek mythology has always had weird instances such as this, and the gods’ family tree is anything but ordinary. The Hercules family tree is undoubtedly a complicated one; you will see with more explanation.
So, Hercules and Iphicles had different fathers, one, Zeus,the leader of the gods of Olympus, and practically immortal; on the other hand, Iphicles’s father was Amphitryon, a human, who is not a god. As far as it goes with their mother, Alcmene, she is the granddaughter of Perseus; even though Perseus was also said to be one of Zeus’s sons.
Regardless, Hercules and Iphicles are twins, and it seems that Hercules was always a little more well-known because of the powers he obtained from Zeus, unlike Iphicles, who was a demigod.
Iphicles Marriage and Children
Iphicles married Automedusa and had a son, Iolaus, who went on to be a hero and one of the Argonauts. The Argonauts were the group of heroes who went on the quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece from Colchis.
Iphicles and Hercules
When Iphicles and Hercules were young children, they faced an attack from snakes sent by the Goddess Hera, Zeus’s wife.Hera threatened the lives of many of the children Zeus had with other women and Goddesses, so this wasn’t new for her. The snakes Hera sent made it to the boys but did not survive long against Hercules’s strength as he protected his frightened brother. Hera’s threats later drove Hercules to madness, and he took out his pain on two of his children, who died as a result of his insanity.
The story became a legend and was a defining point in the mythological history of Hercules and Iphicles. Of course, in some depictions of Hera’s attempt to kill Hercules and Iphicles with snakes, such as in Disney movies, the story depicts only Hercules facing the snakes sent by Hera, but no mention of Iphicles. Even though, Iphicleswas in many expeditions both with and without his brother, Hercules. Iphicles had a significant influence on Hercules because of how protective Hercules was over him.
Iphicles and The Calydonian Boar
In The Iliad, Iphicles makes an appearance. The story he is in tells about a boar that was sent by the god, Artemis, as a punishment on King Oeneus of Calydon, who omitted to make a sacrifice to Artemis. As a result, a group of heroes came together to fight the giant boar, and their journey went down in Greek mythology known as The Calydonian Boar Hunt. Many joined this band of heroes, but not all of them lived.
Iphicles was a member of the group and helped them to defeat the boar, but it ultimately had its life taken by the warrior,Meleager. This hunt for the Calydonian Boar is one of Iphicles’ most notable appearances in Greek mythology in which Hercules didn’t take part. They would later come back together for Iphicles’s final battle.
Some of the other hunters that were supposedly involved in the hunt for the giant boar include Jason, Theseus, Telamon, Peleus, the Dioscuri, Laërtes, Nestor, Meleager, Iphicles, and Atalanta. Atalanta was the huntress to whom Meleager attempted to present the pelt of the giant boar after he killed it.
However, Atalanta’s two uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus did not allow him to award her with the pelt since she was a woman, so Meleager killed them also. Several sculptures and paintings depict this romantic interaction between Meleager and Atalanta, as well as the battle fought against the boar by the hunters.
Depending on where you are reading, Iphicles died by the hand of one of two people, either the Hippocoon of Sparta or the Molionides.
Most sources say that Iphicles’ death came from the Hippocoon, who faced Iphicles and Hercules in battle. They fought the Hippocoon in Arcadia, but after Iphicles’ death, Hercules voluntarily went into exile to another city.
A Summary of Iphicles
Both Iphicles and his more famous brother, Hercules, played a massive role in Greek mythology. Their relationship as brothers is inspiring, and they will always be in the stories told by the Greeks. If you want to read more about either Hercules or Iphicles, or both, you should read the poem The Iliad, by Homer, which is a historical source for many stories in Greek mythology. The Odyssey is another poem by Homer that presents the same type of stories; you should read both the Odyssey and The Iliad if you want a better understanding of the Greek Gods and Goddesses.