Heracles with his son Telephus, one of the Heracleidae.

In Greek mythology, and in general in ancient Greece, the term Heraklides refers to the sons of Herakles and their descendants.

Many royal houses in ancient Greece traced their ancestry back to the most glorious hero of Greek mythology, Heracles. Typical is the case of the kings of Macedonia, who were imitated by almost all the dynasties of the Hellenistic states.

Definition of Heracleides
In the narrowest meaning of the term, Heraklides are the descendants of Herakles and Deianeira, with whose descent in the Peloponnese is related the arrival of the last Dorians in the Greek area. Immediately after the death of Heracles and his ascension to Olympus, his children were left without a protector and were pursued by Eurystheus. They initially took refuge in the king of Trachina, Kyikas, who remembered the favors of Hercules. But Eurystheus forced him to expel them. Then the Heraclides went to Athens, where Theseus reigned (according to others his descendants), and asked him for asylum, sitting as supplicants at the "Mercy Altar". Eurystheus demanded the surrender of the "suppliants", however neither Theseus nor any other Athenian agreed to surrender them, and so Eurystheus declared war on Athens. In the battle that followed in Attica, the Athenians defeated the army of Eurystheus, who lost his life, while his 5 sons were also killed. This victory had been prophesied by the Oracle of Delphi, which had given the Athenians the promise that they would win, if a virgin from a "noble race" was willingly sacrificed. Makaria, daughter of Herakles and Deianeira, then willingly sacrificed herself to give victory to her siblings and the Athenians.

The epidemic and the oracle
From the moment of the death of Eurystheus and the destruction of his army, the Heraclides wanted to return to the Peloponnese, from where Heracles came, who tried in vain to return there until his death. Led by Hyllus, they occupied almost all its cities. But after a year or so a deadly epidemic appeared there, and the oracle they asked said it was a manifestation of "divine wrath" because the Heraclides had returned before the appointed "by fate" time. Obeying then the "will of the gods", the Heraklides left the Peloponnese and returned to Attica, where they settled in the region of Marathon.

As soon as the last traces of the terrible epidemic disappeared, Hyllos fled to the Oracle of Delphi and asked for an oracle as to when they should return to the Peloponnese. He was then given an oracle that the appropriate time would be "after the third harvest" or "after the third harvest." Among all his brothers, Hyllus was the true heir of Hercules and the one who had lived the longest with him and was brought up by him. For these reasons Hyllos had been recognized by the Heraclides as their leader and they had assigned him to lead them to their home. Immediately after this oracle, Hyllos at the head of his brothers attempted to cross the Isthmus of Corinth. But there he met the army of Ehemus, the king of Tegea, arrayed. Instead of a battle, both sides preferred a duel between their leaders. Hyllos was killed in it, and so the Heraclides returned.

After many years, Hyllos' grandson Aristomachus went back to ask the Oracle. The oracle given to him, at least as he understood it, said that the gods would grant him victory if he followed the "straight path." He believed the phrase to mean the Isthmus and attempted to cross it, but was killed there. The Heraklides returned to Central Greece once more.

The sons of Aristomachus, when they came of age, sent their emissary, Temenos, back to Delphi, where he asked for the same oracle that his ancestors had asked: "When will the day of return come?" However, because he had noticed that his ancestors had followed the oracle and he had been the cause of their destruction, Timenos further bitterly asked the god: "Why?" He answered him through the Pythias that it was not his fault if his ancestors could not correctly interpret the oracles. But he explained to him a little more, that by the "third harvest" he meant the third generation, and by the "straight road" the sea route between the coasts of Sterea and the Peloponnese. Timenos was pleased with the clarifications of the new oracle. He and his siblings were really the third generation. Immediately, the Heraclides began to build on a coast of Locris the necessary for a sea invasion and a landing in boats. In this location there was a town which, after the shipyards were set up there, was called Nafpaktos to this day (from the word naus and the verb pegnymi = to build). The myth tells us that during the period of time that the Heraclides were waiting for the construction of the ships, the younger brother of Temenos, Aristodemus, disobeyed and was killed. His death became the beginning of a series of misfortunes for the Heraclides. But Pausanias in Laconian tells us that Aristodemus was killed in Laconia after first dividing it among his sons.

The seer Karnos, his murder and the oracle
A little later, one day a seer named Karnos arrived in the camp of the Herakles and was on friendly terms with them. However, the psychological situation in the camp was tense and they now believed that he was coming to "do magic" on them sent by the Peloponnesians. And a Heracleides, the Knight, son of Phyla, pierced him with his spear. Then a sudden storm arose and destroyed the ships which were almost ready. The next day a pestilence began to decimate the army. Timenos ran once more to the eponymous Oracle of Delphi and ascertained from the oracle that the storm and pestilence were consequences of divine wrath for the oracle's murder. The god added that the murderer was to be exiled for 10 years and that the Heraclides were to use as a guide in their campaign "a three-eyed creature". Timenos obeyed and banished the Knight. Then Oxylus passed by, returning from Elis to his homeland, Aetolia, riding his horse. Oxylus was one-eyed, and the Heraclides considered that his eye along with his horse's two constituted the three eyes of the "creature" they were to use. So they took him as a guide for their return to the Peloponnese, since Oxylos accepted on the condition that they would help him seize the throne of Elis.

After all this, the Heraclides landed in the Peloponnese and subdued its inhabitants after several battles. As a culmination of their final and definitive victory, they established an altar of "Patron Zeus".

Afterwards, the Heraclides divided the various regions-kingdoms of the Peloponnese among themselves. However, it is claimed by mythographers that only three large regions were divided: Argolis, Messinia and Laconia. The mountainous Arcadia was never conquered by the Heraclides, as supposedly due to an oracle they were forced to make peace with the Arcadians (see also Cresphontis, Kypselos). However, the cause of this peace is considered different by each mythographer and it seems logical that the new conquerors would simply not have any benefit from the strain of their troops to conquer the most mountainous and barren region of the Peloponnese.

List of the children of Hercules
From the Thespiades, daughters of Thespius

High school student
Last time
From other mortals

Diikoon, Therimachus, Creontiades (from Megara)
Tlipolemos (from Astyochis or Melitis (mythology))
Thessalos (from Halkiopi or Astyochi)
Eiris (from Parthenope)
Thestalus (from Epikasti)
Yllos, Glinos, Ctisippus, Makaria, Onitis (or Oditis) (from Deianeira)
Achelis, Agelaos, Tyrrhenian (from Omphalis)
Palaemon (by Autonoe, daughter of Piraeus)
Antiochus (from Meda)
Telefos, Telefa (from Dawn)
From goddesses

Alexiaris, Anikitos (from Ivi)

Library of Apollodorus, ii 8
Diodorus of Sicily, iv 57, 58
Pausanias, i 32, 41, ii 13, 18, iii I, iv 3, v. 3
Pindar's Pythia, ix 137
Herodotus, ix 27
Connop Thirlwall, History of Greece, ch. vii
George Grote, History of Greece, part I, ch. xviii