Hercules and Hesione, the Trojan Princess

The walls of Troy
Photograph by Don Keller

Hesione was the daughter of King Laomedon of Troy. Hercules met Hesione after his year of enslavement to Omphale, when he set out for Troy. Hercules found Troy in a state of crisis, as King Laomedon had cheated Poseidon and Apollo by failing to pay them for building the walls. For punishment Poseidon had sent a large sea monster, who would only be appeased by devouring the princess, Hesione. Hercules sought to kill the monster and naturally expected a reward, such as Laomedon's amazing horses. Hercules bravely killed the beast by allowing himself to be swallowed by the monster, whom he then killed from the inside. But once a cheat always a cheat: Laomedon skimped on paying Hercules too.

Boston 63.420, Corinthian column krater
Side A: Hercules, accompanied by Hesione, slaying the sea monster
Photograph courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

So Hercules raised an army, including such great men as Telamon, father of Ajax. When his army captured the city, Hercules gave Hesione in marriage to Telamon (they soon gave birth to another hero, Teucer). Hesione was given the opportunity to save any one of her fellow Trojan prisoners: she chose her brother Podarces, later known as Priam.

Hercules battling at Troy
From East Pediment 2 of the Temple of Aphaia at Aigina
Photograph by Maria Daniels, copyright Staatl. Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munchen


To read more about these topics, see Further Resources.

  • Hercules and Hesione, the princess of Troy
  • Hercules and the struggle for the Delphic tripod
  • Hercules and the Giants

This exhibit is a subset of materials from the Perseus Project and is copyrighted. Please send us your comments.