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In Greek mythology and later art, the name Hesione /hˈs.ən/ refers to various mythological figures, of which the Trojan princess Hesione is most known.

Princess Hesione of Troy

Heracles saves Hesione; 15th-century miniature
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According to the Bibliotheca, the most prominent Hesione was a Trojan princess, daughter of King Laomedon of Troy, sister of Priam and second wife of King Telamon of Salamis. The first notable myth Hesione is cited in is that of Hercules, who saves her from a sea monster. However, her role becomes significant many years later when she is described as a potential trigger of the Trojan War.[1]

Apollo and Poseidon were angry at King Laomedon because he refused to pay the wage he promised them for building Troy's walls. Apollo sent a plague and Poseidon a sea monster to destroy Troy.[2] Oracles promised deliverance if Laomedon would expose his daughter Hesione to be devoured by the sea monster (in other versions, the lot happened to fall on her) and he exposed her by fastening her naked to the rocks near the sea.[2]Heracles (along with Telamon and Oicles) happened to arrive on their return from the expedition against the Amazons. Seeing her exposed, Heracles promised to save her on condition that Laomedon would give him the wonderful horses he had received from Zeus as compensation for Zeus' kidnapping of Ganymedes.[2] Laomedon agreed and Heracles slew the monster, in some accounts after being swallowed by it and hacking at its innards for three days before it died and he emerged having lost all his hair. However, Laomedon refused the promised award. In a later expedition Heracles attacked Troy, slew Laomedon and all Laomedon's sons except the youngest named Podarces.[3] Heracles gave Laomedon's daughter Hesione as a prize to Telamon instead of keeping her for himself.[4] He allowed her to take with her any captives that she wished and she chose her brother Podarces. Heracles allowed her to ransom him in exchange for her veil, therefore Podarces was henceforth known as Priam from primai 'to buy'.[5] Heracles then bestowed the government of Troy on Priam. However, it is also claimed that Priam simply happened to be absent during Heracles attack on Troy, being campaigning in Phrygia.

Hesione was taken home by Telamon, married him and bore him a son, Teucros,[6] who would be half-brother to Telamon's son from his first marriage, Ajax. Alternatively, she became pregnant with Trambelus while still on board the ship and then escaped; it is also possible, though, that the mother of Trambelus was not Hesione, but a certain Theaneira.[7]

Many years later, when Hesione was an old woman, Priam sent Antenor and Anchises to Greece to demand Hesione's return, but they were rejected and driven away. Priam then sent Paris and Aeneas to retrieve her, but Paris got sidetracked and instead brought back Helen, queen of Sparta and wife of Menelaus. Priam was ultimately willing to accept the abduction of Helen, due to the Greeks' refusal to return Hesione.

Others named Hesione

Spurious references

The name Hesione in Dictys Cretensis 4.22 appears to be an error for Plesione of Dictys 1.9 and that in turn an error for Pleione.



  1. Schwab, G. p.315
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Smith, p. 34
  3. Smith, p. 38
  4. Smith, pp. 38, 65
  5. Smith, p. 39
  6. Smith, p. 65
  7. John Tzetzes on Lycophron, 467 & 469[full citation needed]


  • Apollodorus; Hyginus (2007). Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology. R. Scott Smith (translator). Hackett. ISBN 978-0872208209.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Schwab, G. (2001). Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece. New York: Pantheon Books.

External links

  • Media related to Hesione at Wikimedia Commons