Discover Hercules’ Twin Brother: Unveiling the Identity of Iphicles

Hercules, renowned as a hero in Greek mythology, looms large over his brother, Iphicles, with his massive reputation.

An image illustration of Iphicles
In Grecian art and relief sculptures, both figures are depicted, though Hercules tends to receive more focused attention.
PHOTO Courtesy | Greek Mythology

Many people with minimal knowledge of Greek mythology are unaware of Hercules’ twin brother, Iphicles, born just one night apart.

An infographic illustration of Iphicles

An infographic illustration of Iphicles

Hercules and Iphicles

Although twins, Hercules and Iphicles possessed distinct characteristics and personalities due to Hercules’s immortality compared to Iphicles’s mortality.

Greek mythology intricately weaves familial relationships, albeit the complexity of divine lineage often renders depicting family trees challenging.

Despite this complexity, Hercules and Iphicles were undeniably brothers, embarking on numerous joint expeditions and adventures until Iphicles’s demise, which deeply affected Hercules.

In Grecian art and relief sculptures, both figures are depicted, though Hercules tends to receive more focused attention.

It’s important to note a potential naming confusion; while commonly known as Hercules, in Greek mythology, he is referred to as Heracles.

Their family tree elucidates their shared mother, Alcmene, yet different fathers—Zeus for Hercules and Amphitryon for Iphicles.

This unusual familial structure characterizes Greek mythology, where anomalies are commonplace.

Familial Complexity in Mythology

Despite sharing a mother, Hercules and Iphicles had divergent paternity—Zeus, the immortal leader of Olympus, for Hercules, and Amphitryon, a mortal, for Iphicles.

While both twins are depicted in myth as equals, Hercules’s fame often eclipses Iphicles’s due to his divine lineage and associated powers.

Legendary Bonds and Sibling Dynamics

In marriage, Iphicles wed Automedusa and fathered Iolaus, renowned for his heroism as one of the Argonauts. The siblings faced early adversity when Hera, Zeus’s wife, sent serpents to attack them.

While some depictions emphasize only Hercules’s confrontation with the serpents, Iphicles’s presence underscores their shared experiences and challenges.

Despite Hera’s threats and Hercules’s subsequent madness, fueled by divine torment, Iphicles’s influence on his brother remained profound, shaping the narrative of their legendary bond.

Iphicles Adventures

In The Iliad, Iphicles emerges as a character involved in the tale of the Calydonian Boar.

Artemis, the goddess, dispatched the boar as punishment upon King Oeneus of Calydon for neglecting to offer a sacrifice.

Consequently, a cadre of heroes assembled to combat the colossal beast, an event enshrined in Greek mythology as The Calydonian Boar Hunt.

Many warriors joined this illustrious group, though not all survived.

Iphicles participated in the expedition, contributing to the boar’s defeat, but met his demise at the hands of the warrior Meleager.

This hunt stands out as one of Iphicles’ most prominent exploits in Greek mythology, occurring in the absence of Hercules, only to reunite the brothers later for Iphicles’ final battle.

Among the other hunters purportedly involved in the quest for the giant boar were Jason, Theseus, Telamon, Peleus, the Dioscuri, Laërtes, Nestor, Meleager, Iphicles, and Atalanta.

Meleager intended to bestow the boar’s pelt upon Atalanta, the huntress, upon its demise.

However, Atalanta’s uncles, Plexippus and Toxeus, opposed the gesture due to her gender, prompting Meleager to slay them as well.

Various sculptures and paintings depict both the romantic interlude between Meleager and Atalanta and the fierce battle waged by the hunters against the boar.

The Death of Iphicles

Depending on the source consulted, either Hippocoon of Sparta or the Molionides were responsible for Iphicles’ demise.

The majority of accounts attribute his death to Hippocoon, who confronted him and Hercules in battle.

The clash occurred in Arcadia, where despite Hercules’ presence, Iphicles fell in combat.

Following his brother’s death, Hercules chose to enter voluntary exile in another city.


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