PROTESILAUS, in Greek legend, son of Iphiclus, and husband of Laodameia. In command of the Greek contingent from Phylace in Thessaly, he was the first to spring ashore on Trojan soil, although he knew it meant instant death. His wife besought the gods below that he might be permitted to return to earth for the space of three hours. Her prayer was granted, and on the expiration of the time allotted she returned with him to the nether world. According to Hyginus (Fab. 103, 104), Laodameia made a waxen image of her husband. A slave, having detected her in the act of embracing it and supposing it to be a lover, informed her father, who ordered her to burn the image; whereupon she threw herself with it into the flames. In another account (Conon, Narrationes, 13) Protesilaus survived the fall of Troy and carried off Aethilla, the sister of Priam. During a halt on the peninsula of Pallene, Aethilla and the other captive women set fire to the ships. Protesilaus, unable to continue his voyage, remained and built the city of Scione. His tomb and temple were to be seen near Eleus in the Thracian Chersonese. Nymphs had planted elm-trees, facing towards Troy, which withered away as soon as they had grown high enough to see the captured city. Protesilaus was the subject of a tragedy by Euripides, of which some fragments remain.

Iliad, ii. 698; Lucian, Dial mort. xxiii. 1; Ovid, Heroides, xiii.; Philostratus, Heroica, iii.