Character profile for Leander (mythology) from Metamorphoses (page 1)
The tragic story of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of the goddess Aphrodite.
Hero and Leander – a Greek story
The Short Story
The story, legend or myth of Hero and Leander is in essence very simple. The two lovers live on opposite sides of the Hellespont and every night Leander swims across from Abydos to Hero in Sestos, guided by a light she displays. One night in stormy weather, the light is blown out, Leander drowns and Hero commits suicide. This apparently simple story is indeed more complex than the bare outline conveys, and it has inspired many different responses and diverse interpretations. Byron swam from Sestos to Abydos in May in an hour and ten minutes, but only after earlier failure caused by the wind and tide.
Hero and Leander are the protagonists in a classical tale of epic but tragic love. Hero lives secluded in a tower on the European shore of the Hellespont, and Leander on the opposite side of the passage. Since they cannot hope to marry, the couple resolves to meet in secret: each night he swims across to her, guided by the light of her torch. But the time comes when a winter storm kills both the light and Leander. Silvia Montiglio here shows how and why this affecting story has proved to be one of the most popular and perennial mythologies in the history of the West. Discussing its singular drama, danger, pathos and eroticism, the author explores the origin of the legend and its rich and varied afterlives. She shows how it was used by Greek and Latin writers; how it developed in the Middle Ages — notably in the writings of Christine de Pizan — and Renaissance; how it inspired Byron to swim the Dardanelles; and how it has lived on in representations by artists including Rubens and Frederic Leighton.
All rights reserved. Hero and Leander. Home Mythology Hero and Leander Summary. Intro Summary. Every night, Hero fires up a light in her tower so Leander can see the way and swim to her across the Hellespont. But one night, a storm blows in and the currents of the narrow strait get all kinds of crazy. To make matters worse, the wind blows out Hero's light, and Leander gets totally turned around in the dark and stormy waters.