The Girdle of Hippolyte

The ninth of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Hippolyte, the queen of the Amazons, (Diodorus calls the queen Melanippe, and her sister Hippolyte), possessed a girdle, which she had received from Ares, and Admete, the daughter of Eurystheus, wished to have it.

Heracles was therefore sent to fetch it, and, accompanied by a number of volunteers, he sailed out in one vessel. He first landed in Paros, where he became involved in a quarrel with the sons of Minos. Having killed two of them (see Chryses), he sailed to Mysia, where his aid was solicited by Lycus, king of the Mariandynians, against the Bebryces. Heracles assisted Lycus, took a district of land from the enemy, which was given to Lycus, who called it Heracleia.

When Heracles at length arrived in the port of Themiscyra (Thermodon), after having given to the sea he had crossed the name of Euxeinus, he was at first kindly received by Hippolyte, who promised him her girdle. But Hera, in the disguise of an Amazon, spread the report that the queen of the Amazons was robbed by a stranger. They immediately rose to her assistance, and Heracles, believing that the queen had plotted against him, killed her, took her girdle, and carried it with him.

This expedition, which led the hero into distant countries, afforded a favorable opportunity to poets and mythographers for introducing various embellishments and minor adventures, such as the murder of the Boreades, Calais and Zetes, and his amor with Echidna, in the country of the Hyperboreans, by whom he became the father of three sons.

On his return he landed in Troas, where he rescued Hesione from the monster sent against her by Poseidon, in return for which her father Laomedon promised him the horses he had received from Zeus as a compensation for Ganymede. But, as Laomedon did not keep his word, Heracles on leaving threatened to make war against Troy. He therefore landed in Thrace, where he slew Sarpedon, and at length he returned through Macedonia to the Peloponnese.

Previous labor: The Mares of Diomedes.
Next labor: The Cattle of Geryon.



  • Diodorus Siculus, iv, 16.
  • Euripides. Hercules Furens, 413; Ion, 1143.
  • Herodotus. Histories iv, 9, 10, 82.
  • Homer. Iliad v, 649 ff.
  • Plutarch. Theseus, 26.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.9.
  • 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.