Hero and Leander

Hero and Leander, William Etty, 1829-9, oil on canvas, tragic story

Each night Leander would swim across a stretch of sea to meet his lover Hero. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite. She would guide him by holding up a lighted torch. One night during a storm, Leander drowned while swimming to her. The grief-stricken Hero then threw herself from a tower. The two dead lovers are shown in their tragic, final embrace, as their lives drift away. The tones of their glowing skin are set off against a somber sea and storm clouds.