1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hero and Leander

21831491911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13 — Hero and Leander

HERO AND LEANDER, two lovers celebrated in antiquity. Hero, the beautiful priestess of Aphrodite at Sestos, was seen by Leander, a youth of Abydos, at the celebration of the festival of Aphrodite and Adonis. He became deeply enamoured of her; but, as her position as priestess and the opposition of her parents rendered their marriage impossible they agreed to carry on a clandestine intercourse. Every night Hero placed a lamp in the top of the tower where she dwelt by the sea, and Leander, guided by it, swam across the dangerous Hellespont. One stormy night the lamp was blown out and Leander perished. On finding his body next morning on the shore, Hero flung herself into the waves. The story is referred to by Virgil (Georg. iii. 258), Statius (Theb. vi. 535) and Ovid (Her. xviii. and xix.). The beautiful little epic of Musaeus has been frequently translated, and is expanded in the Hero and Leander of C. Marlowe and G. Chapman. It is also the subject of a ballad by Schiller and a drama by F. Grillparzer.

See M. H. Jellinek, Die Sage von Hero und Leander in der Dichtung (1890), and G. Knaack “Hero und Leander” in Festgabe für Franz Susemihl (1898). A careful collection of materials will be found in F. Köppner, Die Sage von Hero und Leander in der Literatur und Kunst des Altertums (1894).