Hercules, or Heracles, was the father of 65 children by 58 different women. By tradition, claiming to be descended from a famous hero was one way for a ruler to establish legitimacy, so the number of sons of Heracles, or "Heracleidae," was no doubt greatly exaggerated.

Heracles' first wife was Megara, the eldest daughter of King Creon. They had between three and eight children, depending on the storyteller. According to the playwright Euripides, Heracles slew his own children by Megara in a fit of madness brought on by the goddess Hera. In order to expiate his guilt for the crime, the hero served King Eurystheus for 12 years, performing a series of tasks that came to be known as the "Labors of Heracles."