Hero. 1. An ancient priestess of Aphrodite at Sestos in Thrace. Tradition says that Leander of Abydos, while present at a festival at Sestos, fell in love with the young priestess, and that his love was returned. He used to swim across the Hellespont to visit her, she meanwhile placing a lighted torch in a tower to guide his course. On one occasion the light went out, and Leander, missing his course, was drowned, and his body was washed to the foot of the tower. Thereupon Hero ascended the tower and, throwing herself from the top, died with her lover.
2. A mechanician and mathematician of Alexandria, who flourished about 215 B.C. He left two books on the construction of automata, published at Venice in 1601. Other works of his are lost or exist only in fragments. He is said to have made air machines, and engines for use in war, and to have made many discoveries in dioptrics. He also invented a steam-engine of a simple kind (q.v.), a double-force pump, and the contrivance which is called Hero's fountain (q.v.).