HYLAS, in Greek legend, son of Theiodamas, king of the Dryopians in Thessaly, the favourite of Heracles and his companion on the Argonautic expedition. Having gone ashore at Kios in Mysia to fetch water, he was carried off by the nymphs of the spring in which he clipped his pitcher. Heracles sought him in vain, and the answer of Hylas to his thrice-repeated cry was lost in the depths of the water. Ever afterwards, in memory of the threat of Heracles to ravage the land if Hylas were not found, the inhabitants of Kios every year on a stated day roamed the mountains, shouting aloud for Hylas (Apollonius Rhodius i. 1207; Theocritus xiii.; Strabo xii. 564; Propertius i. 20; Virgil, Eel. vi. 43). But, although the legend is first told in Alexandrian times, the " cry of Hylas " occurs long before as the " Mysian cry " in Aeschylus (Persae, 1054) , and in Aristophanes (Plutus, 1127) " to cry Hylas " is used proverbially of seeking something in vain. Hylas, like Adonis and Hyacinthus, represents the fresh vegetation of spring, or the water of a fountain, which dries up under the heat of summer. It is suggested that Hylas was a harvest deity and that the ceremony gone through by the Kians was a harvest festival, at which the figure of a boy was thrown into the water, signifying the dying vegetation-spirit of the year.
See G. Tflrk in Breslauer Philologische Abhandlungen,v'ii. (1895) ; W. Mannhardt, Mythologische Forschungen (1884).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)