The famous youth of Abydos, who, from love of Hero, the priestess of Aphrodite, in Sestus, swam every night across the Hellespont, being guided by the light of the lighthouse of Sestus. Once during a very stormy night the light was extinguished, and he perished in the waves. On the next morning his corpse was washed on the coast of Sestus, and Hero, on seeing it, threw herself into the sea.

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

In 1810, Lord Byron swam the Hellespont, crossing from Abydos to Sestus in four hours. The event is commemorated with an annual swim that recreates Leander's crossing.


The history of Hero and Leander is depicted on Roman coins from the cities of Abydos and Sestus, 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.


  • Aken, Dr. A.R.A. van. (1961). Elseviers Mythologische Encyclopedie. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • 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.