THE HIPPOI TROIADES were twelve immortal horses owned by the kings of Troy. Some say they were bred in the herds of King Erikhthonios, others that Zeus awarded them to King Laomedon as compensation for the theft of Ganymedes.
Laomedon reneged on his promise to give the horses to Herakles as reward for the rescue of his daughter Hesione. The hero then laid siege to the city and took the herd by force.
|BOREAS & THE MARES OF ERIKHTHONIOS (Homer Iliad 20.219)
Homer, Iliad 5. 638 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"Herakles of the daring spirit, the heart of a lion: he came here [to Troy] on a time for the sake of Laomedon's horses with six vessels only and the few men needed to man them, and widowed the streets of Ilion and sacked the city."
Homer, Iliad 20. 219 ff :
"Erikhthonios [king of Troy], who became the richest of mortal men, and in his possession were three thousand horses who pastured along the low grasslands, mares in their price with their young colts; and with these Boreas (North-Wind) fell in love as they pastured there, and took on upon him the likeness of a dark-maned stallion, and coupled with them, and the mares conceiving of him bore to him twelve young horses. Those, when they would play along the grain-giving tilled land would pass along the tassels of corn and not break the divine yield, but again, when they played across the sea’s wide ridges they would run the edge of the wave where it breaks on the grey salt water."
Homer, Iliad 23. 346 ff :
"[In a chariot race:] There is none who could sprint to make it up, nor close you, nor pass you, not if the man behind you were driving the great Arion, the swift horse of Adrestos, whose birth is from the immortals, or Laomedon's horses, who were the pride of those raised in this country [of Troy]."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 104 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Poseidon sent a Ketos (Sea-Monster) [to plague Troy] which would come inland on a flood-tide and grab people on the plain. Oracles proclaimed that there would be release from these adversities if Laomedon were to set his daughter Hesione out as a meal for the Ketos (Sea-Monster), so he fastened her to the rocks by the seaside. When he saw her lying there, Herakels promised to rsave her in return for the mares which Zeus had donated as satisfaction for the abduction of Ganymedes. Laomedon agreed to this, and so Herakles slew the monster and rescued the girl. But Laomedon remained unwilling to meet hsi obligations, whereupon Herakles threatenedTroy with future war and left."
Oppian, Cynegetica 1. 225 (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd A.D.) :
"To Horses beyond all mortal creatures cunning Nature has given a subtle mind and heart . . . [the horse of Erikhthonios] ran over the sea and wetted not his coronet."
Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. 450 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"[Hesione to Herakles:] `He [Poseidon] for whom my father [Laomedon] now feeds snow-white Horses in the pasture of his vow, the pledged reward for saving my life, say Yea and rescue both me and wasted Troy from the Drakon.'"
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C9th-8th BC
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd BC
- Valerius Flaccus, The Argonautica - Latin Epic C1st AD
- Oppian, Cynegetica - Greek Poetry C3rd AD