Hercules vs Heracles: Difference and Comparison

What name would come to your mind if I asked about the most powerful god? I know many of you would say Zeus. Zeus is undoubtedly the most powerful god in Greek mythology, as even the other gods used to fear him.

But ever wondered what happened to the powers of Zeus? I know you must be thinking that his powers must’ve been transferred to his offspring, which is the truth.

His son is also one of the most powerful gods in Greek mythology. He is a human and a god at the same time. His name is Hercules, and some may also know him as Heracles.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hercules is the Roman name for the divine hero known for his strength and adventures, while Heracles is the original Greek name for the same hero.
  2. Hercules and Heracles share the same mythology, but their stories have minor variations due to the blending of Greek and Roman cultures.
  3. Hercules and Heracles are famous for their Twelve Labors, which they undertook as penance for a terrible act committed under divine influence.

Hercules vs Heracles

The difference between Hercules and Heracles is that Hercules is the name of the son of Zeus in Greek. On the other hand, Heracles is also the name of the son of Zeus but in English.

Hercules vs Heracles

Hercules and Heracles are the names of the same demigod, but the people from Roman times adopted the figure of Heracles and started calling him Hercules.

Both Hercules and Heracles are the same people, but the name Hercules is adopted from Greek mythology by Roman mythology.

Even though Heracles, the demigod born to Zeus, showed tremendous promise since birth: he strangled two snakes sent by Hera while still in his baby crib.

In his childhood, he had the most brilliant teachers, and by the time he was in his teens, he had already surpassed them in both stature and strength.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHerculesHeracles
OriginalityAnother name for Heracles.Another name for Alcides or Alcaeus.
OriginRoman mythology.Greek mythology.
PopularityThe 2000sThe 1960s
MeaningA hero noted for his great strength and courage.“having the glory of Hera”.
MotherAlcmene (greek)Hera (roman)

Who is Hercules?

The god Hercules lived in ancient Greek mythology as the son of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Alcmene, the mortal.

One night, Zeus relentlessly changed his appearance as Alcmene’s husband and visited Alcmene in her bed and had intercourse, and therefore Hercules was born.

He was an incredibly strong and courageous demi-god. The demi-god is someone who is half human and half god, and just because Alcmene was a mortal woman and Zeus was a god, Hercules turned out to be a demi-god.

While he achieved incredible feats, including wrestling death twice and travelling twice to the underworld, and his tales were told throughout Greece and even in Rome, he lived a life far from easy, and his relationships with others ended in disaster.

Hercules was Zeus’ illegitimate son, and Hera, Zeus’ wife, sought to kill him because of this. Although he had been named Alcaeus at birth, he later started being called Herakles, which meant “glory of Hera”, inferring that he would become famous due to his struggles with the goddess Hera, his mother.

hercules 1

Who is Heracles?

Heracles is the original name of Hercules. This name is derived from Greek mythology, meaning the “glory of Hera”.

Herakle’s early life was full of hunts and quests. Once upon winning the hunt, Heracles met Erginus’ heralds, who the Minyan king had sent to collect the annual Theban tribute of one hundred cows.

In response, Heracles – according to one of the Greek literature – Hercules cut off their body parts into pieces and directed his men to carry them to a shrine or a tribute to the great opponents – Erginus and the Minyans.

Infuriated with the loss of their men by Hercules, Erginus gathered a large army filled with Minyans and marched towards Hercules – but unfortunately met his death because he was not able to cope with the power of the demigod Heracles.

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Because of Creon’s deep appreciation for Heracles, Megara, the Theban king’s eldest daughter, was given to Heracles, with whom he had at least two and perhaps as many as eight children.

As a result, Heracles killed all of them, and he was filled with mad jealousy for Hera.

According to the Delphic oracle, he was commanded to be a servant of a Tiryn king Eurystheus for roughly around twelve years (as mentioned in the Greek philosophy) and carried out all the tasks the king gave him.

The twelve labours of Heracles were initially ten but grew into the famous Twelve Labors of Heracles.


Main Differences Between Hercules and Heracles

  • The name Hercules is another name for Heracles, whereas the name Heracles is another name for Alcides.
  • The name Hercules is from Roman mythology, whereas the name Heracles is from Greek mythology.
  • The name Hercules was popularised in the 2000s because of Disney movies, whereas Heracles was popularised in the 1960s because of ancient Greek books.
  • The name Hercules refers to someone who is known for his great strength and courage, whereas the name Heracles means “glory of Hera”.
  • The mother of Hercules is named Alcmene in Greek mythology, whereas the mother of Heracles is named as Hera in Roman mythology.
Difference Between Hercules and Heracles
  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=O3A-MUBefHYC&oi=fnd&pg=PR8&dq=heracles&ots=_-V1SNfxF4&sig=vWv_PpOm_GvTksitHFdo-GKn_vw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=heracles&f=false
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/abs/hercules-mythbeginnings-and-ends/A99C298C347BD24A8CBA1F29C0E69873

Last Updated : 26 July, 2023

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