How Polyxena fits into Greek Mythology…

Iphigenia was sacrificed for the Greeks, signifying the beginning of the Trojan War with the launching of Greek ships. Polyxena is Iphigenia’s Trojan counterpart. Polyxena, however, was sacrificed in Troy, signifying the end of the war.

Polyxena was the youngest daughter of Priam, king of Troy, and Hecuba.

According to legend, Polyxena went with her brother Troilus to a fountain where he watered his horse. Achilles appeared and slew Troilus. When Achilles caught sight of Polyxena, he fell in love with her.

And this is the way in which love always seems to exist in the realm of mythology.  Love in Greek Mythology did not limit its effects to the mere mortal. The gods often played starring roles in these tales, and often showed their human traits like jealousy and fear. However, in the sad case of Polyxena, her love was fatal in that it was the folly of man, to be specific, that of Achilles, who either wanted her sacrificed so that she may marry him in the afterlife, or because he felt she had or would betray him.

In Seneca’s play Troades, Helen laments Polyxena’s fate:

Miserable Polyxena, whom Achilles commands be surrendered to him and to be sacrificed before his own ashes, so that he may be married in the Elysian fields.

In stories of Mythology, it is often the case that love leads to tragedy. One must wonder whether or not it was a sign of the times that brought such sadness and cynicism in their stories of love, or if the idea of love itself was a powerful as the myths assigned to them.

Many of these issues are explored in my novel Polyxena, where I do go in an flesh out how some of this played out, however tragic it came to be. I wonder what some of you think of stories such as these. Is love that powerful that it must be satisfied by sacrifice in the most literal of terms?

Until next week…


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