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EURYSTHEUS

King of Mycenae, grandson of [PERSEUS] and the arch-rival of [HERACLES].

One day, ZEUS declared that a descendent of heroic PERSEUS could, should and most definitely would become King of Mycenae, a city of great splendor and power. ZEUS being Top God, his word was immutable, and thus was it so. But not quite the way he intended.

ALCMENA's child HERACLES was almost due to be born. He was full of PERSEUS genes — and just happened to be ZEUS's illegitimate son. Keep it in the family was always ZEUS's motto.

But jealous HERA wasn't going to stand for that. She tracked down another possible candidate in the form of EURYSTHEUS and had a quiet word with ILITHYIA, the Goddess of Childbirth.

To everyone's surprise, HERACLES was unexpectedly delayed in the womb and EURYSTHEUS popped out first, giving him preference in the Kingly stakes. He was thus made the sovereign of Mycenae and also became HERA's grateful stooge as she plotted the downfall of HERACLES.

Now for a King with such a noble heritage, EURYSTHEUS was not only a real creep, but also a chicken-hearted coward. Although delighted to be given the task of killing off his rival by devising the impossibly hard Labors Of HERACLES, any display of heroics would fill him with dread. So whenever HERACLES returned triumphant, his usual response was to run and hide under the bed.

This weaselly King did everything in his power to make life impossible — or preferably non-existent — for his rival. Not content with creating terrible tests, he quibbled over the rules and cheated left, right and sideways. When HERACLES finally left the mortal world, it was party time at the palace.

So it's poetic justice that EURYSTHEUS was eventually killed in battle by the descendents of HERACLES, who took his head home to Herc's grieving mum ALCMENA. She brightened up at once and used it as a pincushion.

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Article last updated on 12 February 2004
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Eurystheus is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.


Suggested further reading...
ABOUT EURYSTHEUS : FACTS AND FIGURES
Name : EURYSTHEUS
Location : Ancient Greece
Gender : Male
Type : Legendary Mortal
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : None known
Popularity index : 560

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