Composers and their stage works 

The Children of Heracles

(Herakleidai; Heraclidae, ca. 425/422 B.C.).

A Tragedy by Euripides.

The children and mother of the dead and deified Heracles flee from the persecution of Eurystheus, King of Argos, to seek sanctuary in the Temple of Zeus at Marathon, near Athens. Heracles's old warrior friend Iolaus, who had fled with them, is attacked and knocked down by Copreus, the herald of Eurystheus, in an act of brutality that scandalises the chorus of elders of Marathon. When Iolaus appeals to the brave and honourable Athenian king Demophon, son of the hero Theseus, Demophon rebukes Copreus and offers sanctuary to the persecuted exiles despite the Argives' threats of war. While the Athenian forces mobilise, Demophon sadly informs Iolaus that according to the oracles their victory depends on the sacrifice of a nobly born maiden to the goddess Persephone. In the play's most famous and moving scene, Macaria, Heracles' eldest daughter, insists on offering herself and goes resolutely to her death. The forces of Heracles's eldest son, Hyllus, arrive to join the Athenian Army, and even old Iolaus arms himself for the fray.

As the battle rages, Heracles's aged mother Alcmene awaits the outcome, and news is brought of the victory of the combined forces. When Eurystheus is brought before her in chains, she insists on his death, but Demophor's messenger protests that this would be a breach of Athenian honour. Eurystheus explains that he persecuted the children of Heracles only at the instigation of the goddess Hera and that his body should at least be buried at the Pallene, an Athenian festival in honour of the goddess Athena. Nevertheless, Alcmene orders him taken from Athens, to be killed in dishonour.