Saturday, October 23, 2010

Memnon and the Epic Cycle

Memnon, being carried away by Hypnos (sleep) and Thanatos (death). You can also see his mother, the Goddess Eos who is standing over his dead body. The vessel (a Kylix) is from Attica ca. 490-480 BC.

Memnon was one of the last truly great Heros among the Trojans and was hailed as the saviour of Troy by Priam - he would however soon meet his fate at the hand of Achilles. This story is, although it must have been very popular in antiquity, not recorded in the so famous Iliad and Odyssey, but in other minor cycles.

"Still mid the corpses and the blood fought on those glorious sons of Gods, nor ever ceased from wrath of fight. But Eris now inclined the fatal scales of battle, which no more were equal-poised. Beneath the breast-bone then of godlike Memnon plunged Achilles' sword; Clear through his body all the dark-blue blade leapt: suddenly snapped the silver cord of life. Down in a pool of blood he fell, and clashed his massy armour, and earth rang again."

Quintus of Smyrna - Posthomerica (The Fall of Troy) II
Translate by A. S. Way 1913

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