Greek Mythology Wiki

Alkmene about to give birth

Alkmene was the daughter of Electryon and Anaxo. She followed Amphitryon to Thebes, who had been exiled for accidentally killing Electryon. In Thebes, he was purified by Creon for his transgression.

Alkmene refused to marry Amphitryon until he avenged the death of her brothers: StratobatesGorgophonusPhylonomusCelaeneus, Amphimachus, LysinomusChirimachusAnactor, and Archelaus.

After they were married, Zeus came to Alkmene disguised as her husband and slept with her. From this event, Herakles was conceived. The next day, the real Amphitryon came home and slept with her, conceiving their son Iphicles. The twins were carried at the same time, although they had different fathers. Alkmene also later had a daughter by Amphitryon, Laonome.

When Alkmene was about to give birth to Herakles, Zeus announced to all the gods that on that day a child by Zeus himself would be born and rule all those around him. Hera, after requesting Zeus to swear an oath to that effect, descended from Olympus to Argos and made the wife of Sthenelus (son of Perseus) give birth to Eurystheus after only seven months, while at the same time preventing Alkmene from delivering Herakles. Because Eurystheus was born first rather than Herakles, he became the ruler instead.

While in labor, Alkmene was having great difficulty giving birth to such a large child. After seven days and nights of agony, Alkmene stretched out her arms and called upon Ilithyia, the goddess of childbirth. While Ilithyia did go to Alkmene, she had been previously instructed by Hera to prevent the delivery. With her hands clasped and legs crossed, Ilithyia muttered charms, thereby preventing Alkmene from giving birth. Alkmene writhed in pain, cursed the heavens, and came close to death. Galanthis, a maid of Alkmene who was nearby, observed Ilithyia's behaviour and quickly deduced that it was Hera's doing. To put an end to her mistress's suffering, she announced that Alkmene had safely delivered her child, which surprised Ilithyia so much that she immediately jumped up and unclenched her hands. As soon as Ilithyia leapt up, Alkmene was released from her spell, and gave birth to Herakles. As punishment for deceiving Ilithyia, Galanthis was transformed into a weasel; she continued to live with Alkmene.

After the death of Amphitryon, Alkmene married Rhadamanthys and lived with him in exile in Boeotia. Hyllus, having pursued and killed Eurystheus, cut off Eurystheus' head and presented it to Alkmene, who gouged out the eyes with weaving pins.

Alkmene was walking from Argos to Thebes when she died at Megara. The Heracleidae fell into disagreement about where to take her body, with some wishing to take her body back to Argos, and others wishing to take it to Thebes to be buried with Amphitryon and Herakles' children. However, the oracle in Delphi declared that it was better to bury Alkmene in Megara. An altar to Alkmene had been built in the Cynosarges in Athens, alongside altars to Herakles, Hebe, and Iolaus. Alkmene's tomb is located in Megara.

Spouse & Lovers 

Zeus (lover)

Amphitryon (Husband)

Rhadamanthys (Husband)


Herakles (With Zeus)
Iphicles (With Amphitryon)
Laonome (With Amphitryon)