Hero and Leander – William Etty

Love…it does funny things to people doesn’t it.  We know all the old adages…”Love is blind”, “Love will find a way”, “he who loves you will make you weep”… all of these can be attributed to the story of Hero and Leander.  

William Etty has captured the pinnacle moment of their relationship in this painting.  To give the painting it’s full title “Hero, having thrown herself from the tower at the sight of Leander drowned, dies on his body”.  Painted in 1829, Etty captures the tenderness of the relationship, entwined with the sorrow of the scene.  Note how Hero embraces Leander in her dying moments.

Leander fell in love with Hero at a festival.  Hero was a virgin Priestess to Aphrodite.  He wooed (yes…I’m using the word wooed) her with soft words and swore to her that he would swim the strait between Abydos and Hellespont to spend time with her every night.  As Hero lived in the tower of Sestos, she would hold a flaming torch at the top of the tower each night so that he could find his way.  

Eventually Leander persuaded Hero to make love to him, with the argument that Aphrodite, being the goddess of love would not want a virgin worshipped, how could she refuse that logic (love really is blind).  Every night of the summer Leander swam the strait, but as Autumn came a storm made the sea too rough to swim Leander was swept under and Hero’s torch was blown out.  Leander drowned and his body was washed up on the beach at the foot of the tower.  Unable to live without him, Hero throws herself from the tower and dies to be with Leander.

Personally, I think Etty depicts the whole story so well in this painting.  The main focal point, the two lovers, even in death are at peace with each other.  Their bodies modesty in clothing, but in no way erotic, more innocent, showing the true love.  Hero’s final embrace, as she holds Lenders face, yet the awkwardness of the rest of her body pointing to the decent from the tower.  

The sea is still foamy from the recent turbulence, but now gently laps the shore as it had delivered the body to her.  The sky is in autumn hues with a bank of cloud in the distance.  Finally way across the water you can see the shore of Abydos, where the fated Leander set off from.

Etty himself commented that this was the “finest of my fine pictures”.  This subject has been painted many times over, but none have captured the true heart and soul of the story such as this painting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul

The Devil's Playground

The journey through mental health by a sardonic soul

Fort of melancholy

Art & Photography

Ailish Sinclair

Stories and photos from Scotland

Memoirs of Miss Salt...........

Memories of past and present antics!

A Voice in the Dark

An Independent film company

Rich Pieces

Obsessed with film since 1982

BENLEANDER_Design Studio

Branded Storytelling and Visual Design

Big Art Theory Blog

a place where art meets literature in a way unseen before

Zhiguai Translations

Classical Chinese tales of the strange and anomalous, translated (roughly) by Geoff Humble.

Bitchin’ in the Kitchen

..because the thoughts that fall, kicking and screaming from my head need a safe place to land..


MarkovichUniverse AT gmail.com

Finding French Charming

Finding True Love.. Even After Forty

My expressions

unexpressed thoughts

Channel Zero Archives

Analysis, images, meta & more, celebrating the surreal horror classic, currently streaming on Shudder

Quaint Revival

quirks, quips & photo clicks

It's Turpintime!

Stuff & Bits For The Muddled and Addled.


Things that happened on this date in history. Probably.

Eerie Unsolved

A Mix-Up of Mysteries, Conspiracie and All Things Spooky!

The Battles of Frankie

The failings and anecdotes of an average Aussie woman

The Indy Diarist

A Day in the Life

Leggings & Tea

Books. Art. Life.


Tiling.Renovation. Restoration.Photography

High Lumen

lighting design blog

Lady with Black Lipstick

Hopeless romantic speaking her thoughts.


This is the page where I will share my thoughts about football, my memories and funny stories.

The Latent Being

Believer of Freedom of Mind


A panorama is defined as an unbroken view of the whole region surrounding an observer. My panorama includes a jumbled mess of ideas and thoughts waiting to be typed out. Welcome to my panorama.

Marina Baker

marketing, social media, & business development

Chef Dave, Esq.

Lawyer by trade -- Cook by passion

Dr. Eric Perry’s Blog

Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Cryssy’s Blog

Loving YOU without the Mask!


just a regular human trying to survive in the city


Your Source For The Coolest Science Stories

Amdall Gallery

Artwork, data analysis, and other projects by Jon

The Planet According to Dom

Where humour and adventure collide

O' Canada

Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border

%d bloggers like this: