A priestess of Aphrodite in Sestus on the Hellespont. She was the beloved of Leander, a youth from Abydos. Each night he swam across the Hellespont to reach Leander at her home in Sestus. She would light a lamp to serve as a beacon. One night, during a storm, the fire was extinguished and Leander perished in the waves. Overcome with grief, Hero flung herself into the sea and drowned as well.

This story is the subject of the epic poem attributed to Musaeus, entitled De Amore Herois et Leandri, and is also mentioned by Ovid,1 Statius,2 and Virgil.3

This motif can be found in the medieval Dutch ballad Het waren twee conincskinderen.


The history of Hero and Leander is depicted on Roman coins from the cities of Abydos and Sestos, on gems, and on some frescoes (Casa dei Vettii at Pompeii). They show Leander swimming towards a tower on which Hero stands at the top holding a lamp in her right hand.



  1. Heroides xviii, 19.
  2. Thebaid vi, 535.
  3. Georgics iii, 258 ff.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.