A 550 BC image of Hercules, killing a monster and saving the life of the princess Hesione from Troy.

In Greek mythology, the most prominent Hesione was a Trojan princess, daughter of King Laomedon of Troy, sister of Priam and wife of King Telamon of Salamis.

Poseidon, angered by being cheated out of his wages by Laomedon, sent a sea monster to attack Troy. 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 to the rocks near the sea.

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 Ganymede. 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.


Heracles, Laomedon and Hesione , MCA Valle Sabbia

Greek Mythology

Hesione, Albrecht Dürer

But Laomedon refused the promised award. In a later expedition Heracles attacked Troy, slew Laomedon and all Laomedon's sons except the youngest named Podarces. Heracles gave Laomedon's daughter Hesione as a prize to Telamon instead of keeping her for himself. He allowed her to take with her any captives that she wish and she chose her brother Podarces. Heracles allowed her to ransom him in exchange for his veil whence Podarces was henceforth known as Priam from primai 'to buy'. Heracles then bestowed the government of Troy on Priam.

But 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 Teucer, half-brother to Telamon's son Ajax from his first marriage.

Priam later sent Antenor and Anchises to Greece to demand Hesione's return, but they were rejected and driven away, whence the willingness of Priam later to accept the abduction of Helen.


Hercules and Hesione, Raoul Lefèvre, Histoires de Troyes, 15 century

Others Named Hesione

Hesione was an Oceanid who became wife of Prometheus according to both Acusilaus and Aeschylus (in Prometheus Bound).

Hesione was also the name of the wife of Nauplius according to Cercops as cited by Apollodorus (2.1.5).

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.

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