Study Guide

Hero and Leander Themes

  • Love

    It's safe to say that Hero and Leander are in love. Hero chooses to break her vow of chastity for the guy, and Leander risks his life every night by swimming across the Hellespont just to be with her. From what we can tell, their nights together were perfect, blissful, and full of lovin'. But in the end, their love is the precise thing that destroys them both. It causes Leander to make the highly questionable decision of swimming across the Hellespont in a storm, and it drives Hero into suicidal despair when she finds his body. However sweet it was while it lasted, love ultimately turns into a force of destruction in this tragic tale.

    Questions About Love

    1. In what ways does the love of Hero and Leander lead to their deaths?
    2. Do you think that Hero and Leander truly love each other? Or is this more like infatuation?
    3. Think of a recent movie where love brings somebody to a bad end. Compare and contrast the film to the tale of Hero and Leander.
  • Death

    When Leander drowns in the stormy waters of the Hellespont, it doesn't just mean the death of him as a human being; it also means the death of the passionate affair he has with Hero. The loss of Leander's love is just too much for the girl. And ironically, she decides that the only way to be with her lover is to join him in death—the very thing that took him away.

    Questions About Death

    1. Was Leander truly aware of death as a consequence of his reckless swimming practices, or was he just a thoughtless youth? Why do you think so?
    2. What could Hero and Leander have done differently to avoid the fatal consequences of their affair?
    3. If we could go down to the Underworld and interview Hero and Leander, do you think they would say it was all worth it, or would they regret their decisions? Explain your answer.