This article analyses and discusses the references to the Greek hero and demigod Heracles as they appear in the Homeric epics and in Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica. Methodologically, it is based on narratological character analysis in a diachronic perspective, and with a cognitive take. It is demonstrated that Heracles serves specific narrative and metapoetic purposes in all the three epics concerned. In the Iliad, by way of several external analepses he fulfils a proleptic function in his role as the first destroyer of Troy, foreshadowing the ultimate destruction of the city. The Odyssey, in turn, attempts to unwrite Heracles from the epic memory by condemning him into the Underworld and into Heaven, and by emphasizing his barbarian nature. Finally, in the Argonautica Heracles is first present, then absent from the main narrative, and on a metapoetic level he is used as a means of reflecting alternative narrative strategies and contents. In sum, it can be demonstrated that the Heracles figure is particularly apt to serve all these narrative and metapoetic ends because of its decidedly multifaceted, contradictory, and transtextual nature.