Article

Alcmene

Emily Kearns

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics


Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.271

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Alcmene, mother of *Heracles. Her father was Electryon, who was accidentally killed by her husband *Amphitryon; she followed Amphitryon into exile in *Thebes (1), but refused to sleep with him until he had avenged the death of her brothers on the Taphians and Teleboans. *Zeus came to her in Amphitryon's shape a little before the latter's return, and she gave birth to twins—Heracles by Zeus, *Iphicles by Amphitryon. *Hera in jealousy obstructed the birth, thus ensuring that *Eurystheus was born before Heracles and so became king of *Argos (1) (ll. 19. 95–125). After the death of Heracles, Alcmene with the rest of his family was persecuted by Eurystheus, and in *Euripides' Heraclidae took refuge with them in Athens, insisting on Eurystheus' death after his defeat in battle. At her own death she was taken to the *Islands of the Blest to marry *Rhadamanthys, and a stone substituted in her coffin.

Article.  253 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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