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Astyanax

by Micha F. Lindemans

The son of Hector and Andromache. Hector had named him Scamandrius but the people called him Astyanax ("King of the City"). He was killed during the fall of Troy, when Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, threw him from the wall, saying to Andromache, "Since my father killed his father he might try to avenge the death. He also could become King of Troy, and we want no more kings of Troy!"

In iconography, Astyanax was portrayed on paintings made by Polygnotus (5th century BCE) at the Lesche in Delphi, which depicted the destruction of Troy. His death is also depicted on several Greek vases, such as on an amphora from Lydos (mid-6th century BCE), where Neoptolemus holds the helpless Astyanax by one leg. The same scene is shown on a bowl made by the painter Brygus (5th century BCE). The Cleophrades Painter depicts Priam holding the bloodied corpse in his lap (c. 485 BCE; Naples).

Astyanax' death is actually only mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses (XIII, 399-428) while the Aeneid only refers to "lost Astyanax" (II, 457). Other sources, such as Bulfinch's Mythology, say that Astyanax founded the kingdom of Messina in Sicily, suggesting he either escaped the sack of Troy or that the founder of Messina is a different person. See further Iliad VI, 403, 466.


Article details:

  • Pronunciation:
    as-tie'-a-naks
  • Etymology:
    King of the city

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