When I was in Greece recently, almost everyone I met (writers, politicians, common people) believe that Heracles was a real person. One of Hippocrates' forefathers was Heracles (from his mother's lineage) -- according to ancient sources, they say.

The name and image of Heracles seems to be found everywhere, including in archeological findings, ancient texts, oral folklore.

Also, some ancient towns or villages bear Heracles' name in Europe. Could we approximate when this mythological figure lived in reality?

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    Hello @Dan and welcome to M&F SE, please take some time to take our tour. Your question is interesting, but I wonder: are you looking for an "historical" Heracles that did all those deeds or for historical figures that inspired the myths?
    – Calaom
    Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 9:24
  • Many thanks. I went to Greece (and specifically to the island of Cos) to find any information on the historical Hippocrates from the Greek themselves. I was surprised to find that the Greek scholars have a lot of data which we may not have yet. Therefore, yes, I am interested in details on the "historical" Heracles as well, if any. Commented Dec 3, 2019 at 9:48
  • Have you also looked into the Etruscan matter? I'm no expert in the field, but do know that Hercle seems to be a pretty popular hero among that people as well.
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 7:30

1 Answer 1


From Wikipedia:

A Euhemerist reading of the widespread Heracles cult was attributed to a historical figure who had been offered cult status after his death. Thus Eusebius, Preparation of the Gospel (10.12), reported that Clement could offer historical dates for Hercules as a king in Argos: "from the reign of Hercules in Argos to the deification of Hercules himself and of Asclepius there are comprised thirty-eight years, according to Apollodorus the chronicler: and from that point to the deification of Castor and Pollux fifty-three years: and somewhere about this time was the capture of Troy."

Readers with a literalist bent, following Clement's reasoning, have asserted from this remark that, since Heracles ruled over Tiryns in Argos at the same time that Eurystheus ruled over Mycenae, and since at about this time Linus was Heracles' teacher, one can conclude, based on Jerome's date—in his universal history, his Chronicon—given to Linus' notoriety in teaching Heracles in 1264 BCE, that Heracles' death and deification occurred 38 years later, in approximately 1226 BCE.

As to the town names, the name Herakles (Pride of Hera) is still in use as a first name in many European languages influenced by either Greek or Latin:

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Naming places after people has been a common practice throughout history. It stands to reason not all Herakles-named places originate from a singular person, mythological or not.

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