114. Old Iolaus becomes young

Once upon a time, Iolaus, the son of Automedusa and Iphiclus, had prayed to Hebe, the goddess of youth, to make him young again, so that he could take revenge on his enemy Eurystheus, the king of Mycenae and Tiryns.

Eurystheus, after the death of his rival Heracles, sought to kill Heracles’ children, the Heraclides. Fleeing from one city to another, the Heraclides suffered the misery of homeless refugees. King Ceyx of Trachis had kindly given them refuge, but when Eurystheus demanded their surrender, Ceyx sent the Heraclides to Athens, saying that he was not capable to fight Eurystheus. The Athenians received the Heraclides kindly. Again, Eurystheus demanded that Athens should surrender the Heraclides, or wage war with his powerful army.

Iolaus, was the nephew of Heracles and also his faithful charioteer. He was grieved at the sad state of the Heraclides, but his weakened old age failed to defend them, and thus, he prayed to Hebe to restore his youth. Iolaus prayed that since he was already old, if now he regained his youth, then his experience of advanced years would join with the strength of youth, and this combination would ensure his victory over Eurystheus.

Hebe had married Heracles, after Heracles had become a god upon his death. Hence, to please Heracles, Hebe granted the prayer of old Iolaus, by making him young again, but only for one day.

Iolaus skillfully used that one day of regained youthful vigor, to wage war against Eurystheus’ army. He led the Heraclides, who were aided by the Athenian army, and defeated the troops of Eurystheus at Marathon. Iolaus sliced off the haughty head of Eurystheus, and buried it at Tricorynthus, in Attica. After that one day, Iolaus lost his renewed youth and again became old.

Later, when Iolaus died, he was buried beside his grandfather Amphitryon’s tomb, at Thebes.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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