At the time of his birth there was no reason to consider Heracles a possible candidate for the throne. His father was still 29 years old and about to marry Roxana, a princess of Bactria, and there was little doubt at the time that they would produce legitimate heirs to the throne. Indeed, though Alexander died in 323 BC, still 33 years old, Roxana gave birth to a legitimate son, Heracles' half-brother Alexander IV of Macedon, shortly after that. Heracles and his mother had left the court shortly after his birth and were not involved in the conflicts and plots between Alexander's generals, centering on who would govern the various parts of the Empire pending the adulthood of Alexander's son.
Heracles lived in relative obscurity in Damascus until his brother's murder by Cassander in 309 BC. Then Polyperchon, a regent of Macedonia who had been replaced by Cassander and had all but disappeared for the previous six years, attempted to make a comeback in politics by attempting to put Heracles on the throne as the only remaining heir of Alexander. Polyperchon managed to form an army consisting of 20,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, and challenged Cassander's army. Instead of fighting, Cassander started negotiations with Polyperchon. By offering to make him a general of his own army and placing him as governor of Peloponnesus he convinced Polyperchon to change allegiance to him instead of Heracles. Polyperchon then proceeded to murder Heracles and his mother. Heracles was only 18 years old at the time of his murder in late 309 BC. The next heir to the throne was his aunt Thessalonica, Cassander's wife.