Biton and Cleobis

Biton and Cleobis (Κλέοβις) were the sons of Cydippe, a priestess of Hera at Argos. Herodotus, who has recorded their beautiful story, makes Solon relate it to Croesus, as a proof that it is better for mortals to die than to live.

On one occasion, says Herodotus,1 during the festival of Hera, when the priestess had to ride to the temple of the goddess in a chariot, and when the oxen which were to draw it did not arrive from the country in time, Cleobis and Biton dragged the chariot with their mother, a distance of 45 stadia, to the temple. The priestess, moved by the filial love of her sons, prayed to the goddess to grant them what was best for mortals.

After the solemnities of the festival were over, the two brothers went to sleep in the temple and never rose again. The goddess thus showed, says Herodotus, that she could bestow upon them no greater boon than death.


The Argives made statues of the two brothers and sent them to Delphi. Pausanias2 saw a relief in stone at Argos, representing Cleobis and Biton drawing the chariot with their mother.



  1. Histories, i, 31.
  2. Description of Greece ii, 20.2.


  • Comp. Cicero. Tuscalan Disputations, i, 47; Valerius Maximus, v, 4, extern. 4; Stobaeus. Sermones, 169; Servius and Philargyrius on Virgil's Georgics iii, 532.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.