Aftermath: The Recovery of Aithra and and Sacrifice of Polyxena (page 659 upper, with art)

Chapter 16, The Trojan War

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Athens, Propylaia on Acropolis: painting by Polygnotos of Polyxena about to be sacrificed near the grave of Achilleus (known through Pausanias’ description)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.22.6

On the left of the gateway is a building with pictures… And there is Polyxena about to be sacrificed near the grave of Achilles. Homer did well in passing by this barbarous act.  Greek Text

Sophokles, Polyxena Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 4, pp. 403-9, ed. S.L. Radt. Göttingen 1977.

Euripides, Hekabe 35-44

Meanwhile all the Achaeans sit idly here in their ships at the shores of Thrace; for the son of Peleus, Achilles, appeared above his tomb and stopped the whole army of Hellas, as they were making straight for home across the sea, [40] demanding to have my sister Polyxena offered at his tomb, and to receive his reward. And he will obtain this prize, nor will they that are his friends refuse the gift; and on this very day fate is leading my sister to her doom.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 93-95

over the summit of his tomb appeared Achilles’ phantom, and for his prize [95] he would have one of the luckless maids of Troy.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 113-15

“Where away so fast, you Danaids, leaving my tomb [115] without its prize?”  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 309-10

Now Achilles, lady, deserves honor at our hands, [310] since on behalf of Hellas the man died most nobly.  Greek Text

Euripides, Hekabe 534-38

“Son of Peleus, my father, [535] accept the offering I pour for you to appease your spirit, strong to raise the dead; and come to drink the black blood of a pure girl, which I and the army are offering youGreek Text

Euripides, Troades 264

Talthybius
To minister at Achilles’ tomb has been appointed her.  Greek Text

Lykophron, Alexandra 323-24

And thee to cruel bridal and marriage sacrifice the sullen lion, child of Iphis, shall lead.  Greek Text

 Diktys Cretensis, The Trojan War

See Early Greek Myth, p. 628

Dares Phrygius, History of the Fall of Troy

See Early Greek Myth, p. 628

Hyginus, Fabulae 110

POLYXENA: When the victorious Danaan were embarking from Troy, and about to return to their own country, each one taking his share of the spoils, the voice of Achilles from his tome is said to have demanded a part of the spoils. And so the Danaans sacrificed at his tome Polyxena, daughter of Priam, a most beautiful girl, because when Achilles had sought her in marriage and had come for an interview, he was killed by Alexander and DeiphobusLatin Text

Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.445-48

“Forgetting me do you depart, O Greeks?”
He said, “And is your grateful! memory
of all my worth interred with my bones?
Do not do so. And that my sepulchre
may have due worship, let Polyxena
be immolated to appease the ghost:
of dead Achilles.”  Latin Text

♠ Seneca, Troades 938-48

HELEN
[938] Would that the prophet of the gods bade me, too, end with the sword this lingering, hateful life, or fall before Achilles’ tomb by the mad hand of Pyrrhus, a companion of thy fate, poor Polyxena, whom Achilles bids be given to him, and be sacrificed in presence of his ashes, that in the Elysian fields he may wed with thee.

ANDROMACHE
[945] See with what joy her mighty soul has heard her doom! The becoming attire of royal robes she seeks, and allows Helen’s hand to approach her locks. Death she deemed that other, this, her bridal.  Latin Text

Flavius Philostratos, Life of Apollonios of Tyana 4.16

Next I asked him, if Polyxena was really slaughtered over his tomb; and he replied that this was true, but that she was not slain by the Achaeans, but that she came of her own free will to the sepulcher, and that so high was the value she set on her passion for him and she for her, that she threw herself upon an upright sword.  Greek Text

Artistic sources edited by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, July 2022

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, February 2023

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