Study Guide

Heracles (Hercules): Birth and Early Adventures Ilithyia


Ilithyia is the goddess of childbirth, who helps Hera to slow down the birth of Heracles. She's tricked by Galanthis, Alcmene's servant, into letting Heracles be born. It might seem kind of weird that a goddess of childbirth would slow down a birth, but she was seen as a goddess who could both help women in labor and also one who sometimes made births so difficult that both mother and child died. Ilithyia is sometimes shown as a woman holding a torch, symbolizing the burning pains of childbirth (source).