The only daughter of Menelaus and Helen, and beautiful, like the golden Aphrodite.1 As she was a grand-daughter of Leda, the mother of Helen, Virgil2 calls her Ledaea. During the war against Troy, Menelaus promised her in marriage to Neoptolemus (Pyrrhus); and after his return he fulfilled his promise.3 This Homeric tradition differs from those of later writers.
According to Euripides,4 Menelaus, previous to his expedition against Troy, had promised Hermione to Orestes. After the return of Neoptolemus, Orestes informed him of this, and claimed Hermione for himself; but Neoptolemus haughtily refused to give her up. Orestes, in revenge, incited the Delphians against him, and Neoptolemus was slain. In the meantime Orestes carried off Hermione from the house of Peleus, and she, in remembrance of her former love for Orestes, followed him. She had also reason to fear the revenge of Neoptolemus, for she had made an attempt to murder Andromache, whom Neoptolemus seemed to love more than her, but had been prevented from committing the crime.
According to others, Menelaus betrothed her at Troy to Neoptolemus; but in the meantime her grandfather, Tyndareus, promised her to Orestes, and actually gave her in marriage to him. Neoptolemus, on his return, took possession of her by force, but was slain soon after either at Delphi or in his own home at Phthia.5
Hermione had no children by Neoptolemus,6 but by Orestes, whose wife she ultimately became, she was the mother of Tisamenus.7
The Lacedaemonians dedicated a statue of her, the work of Calamis, at Delphi.8
- Homer. Odyssey iv, 14; Iliad iii, 175.
- Aeneid iii, 328.
- Homer. Odyssey iv, 4 ff.
- Andromache, 891 ff.; comp. Pindar. Nemean Odes vii, 43; Hyginus. Fabulae, 123.
- Virgil. Aeneid iii, 327, xii, 264; Sophocles ap. Eustathius on Homer, p. 1479.
- Euripides. Andromache, 33; Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 11.1; Scholiast on Pindar's Nemean Odes vii, 58.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 33.7; ii, 18.5.
- ibid. x, 16.2.
- 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.