Hylas and the Nyhmps - Painting by John William Waterhouse 1896
Hylas and the Nyhmps – Painting by John William Waterhouse 1896

Hylas (of the woods) In Greek mythology, an Argonaut, male lover of Heracles; son of Theiodamas, king of the Dryope, and Menodice, a nymph. When Heracles killed Theiodamas (divine tamer) for refusing the gift of a plow ox, he spared his son Hylas, who became his lover.

The two went on the voyage of the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. They landed at Cios, and Hylas went to fetch water at a fountain. He was drowned there by a water nymph, Pegae or Dryope, who had fallen in love with the handsome youth. Heracles went in search of Hylas with his sister’s son Polyphemus, leaving the Argonauts to go on without him. Failing to find Hylas, Heracles did not leave the island until he had taken hostages from the Mysians.

He made them promise to produce Hylas, dead or alive. From that time on, the inhabitants of Cios made a ritual search for Hylas, sacrificed to him every year at the fountain, and called him by name three times. Apollonius Rhodius’s short epic Argonautica (The Voyage of the Argo) tells the myth.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow-Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante