Tlepolemus fled to Rhodes after slaying Licymnius, Heracles' aged maternal uncle. According to the Bibliotheca, this was an accident—Tlepolemus was beating a servant when Licymnius ran between the two, suffering a fatal blow,—but Pindar states that the death was intentional and motivated by anger. Accompanied by his Argive wife Polyxo, Tlepolemus made passage to Rhodes and divided the island into three parts, founding three Rhodian city-states: Cameirus, Ialysus and Lindus.
He encountered Sarpedon on the first day of fighting recounted in the Iliad and taunted him saying that he lacked courage and could not really be the son of Zeus. Tlepolemus then attacked him, and although he wounded Sarpedon, he was slain by the latter.
According to Pausanias, Polyxo killed Helen to avenge for her husband's death, though Polyaenus says that Menelaus had dressed up a servant in Helen's clothes and that the Rhodians killed her instead as Menelaus and Helen escaped.