Monday, April 18, 2016


Sentenia Antiquae did a great article on the Trojan princess Polyxena.
I can only add that supposedly, Polyxena was Achilles' bride in the other world. (See Philostratus, Her. xx.18; Philostratus, Vit. Apollon.iv.16.). Of course Medeia (Schol. ad Eurip. Med. 10, ad Apollon. Rhod. iv. 814.), Iphigenia (Anton. Lib. 27.) and Helen (Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 4) all claim the title of Mrs. Achilles in the Afterworld too.


  1. I'd never guess that "Polyxena" could have the meaning of "whore"! Wow!

  2. Maya,

    I don't know if I found that arguement all that convincing. Feel bad that P got pegged as a whore because of an obscure reference somewhere. Plus etymology is such a guessing game!

    Congratulations on the latest quiz. You are smart!


  3. Thank you!
    The interpretation as "whore" indeed seems, as reviewers in my field like to say, not warranted by the empirical data. However, if we remember the Danaids, we see that Greek culture harshly condemns the use of female sex appeal to deceive, lure and then kill the enemy. This is in contrast to what we see in the Book of Judith (though, on the other hand, the Danaids in the dominant version eventually remarried, while Judith did not).

  4. I dislike the entire motif of Polyxena: the barbaric human sacrifice, and the behavior of Achilles before it. While Achilles is not my favorite character, Homer did much to ennoble him and this is how I like the story. Polyxena may show the earlier version: a more Heracles-like hero, combining phenomenal might and combat skills with too little common sense and general intelligence; an overconfident macho able to kill a dozen of brothers and then approach their sister without any precautions.
    To me, the name Polyxena is similar to the euphemistic epithet of Hades, "Host of many". Extrapolating from the deaths of Heracles and Agamemnon, it is not surprising that a great hero owes his death to a woman. However, I like it more as Homer foretells it: Achilles will be killed by Paris, with the help of Apollo himself.

  5. I like the flyting in the Lord of the Rings when the Nazgul leader brags of the prophecy that no mortal man will ever stop him, and the enemy fighter in front of him removes the helmet to show her hair and says, "I am not a mortal man but a woman". And the Nazgul is dead within minutes. The scene may have been inspired from Greek mythology. Aegyptus' sons easily defeated the Argive army but succumbed to their brides. Both Heracles and Achilles were never stopped by any mortal man but a woman's trickery did the job. Agamemnon was not such a great fighter, but nevertheless it took a woman to finish him. Diomedes, the prudent destroyer of cities, wisely left his wife just in time, the same way as he abstained from attacking Apollo a 4th time at Troy. Maybe he is an example of "escaping a fate / curse by changing place". Women in Dionysian frenzy kill Pentheus, Medea destroys Jason (though, to be fair, she builds most of him as well), and Sophocles makes a woman crush the eternal Theban ruler Creon. How much these Greeks feared women! I begin to understand why fighting the Amazon was such a plus in any hero's CV.