The Rape of Polyxena
The ancient Greeks had great mythology. Renaissance artisans always seemed to derive their inspiration from those great stories or stories from the Bible.
This very detailed sculpture is a scene from one of the greatest Greek poems- Homer’s Illiad. The sculpture is titled “The Rape Of Polyxena” and very much like the more famous “Rape Of The Sabines” it depicts a very heart wrenching scene.
This scene is of the Greek hero Achilles’s abduction of Polyxena, the daughter of the King of Troy. Achilles has just killed two of Polyxena’s brothers and was about to carry their bodies away. Polyxena tries to stop him and offers herself in return of her brother’s body. Here Achilles is seen stepping over one of the dead brothers and carrying the damsel Polyxena away while her mother pleads and begs him to leave her daughter. Achilles does not.
Not very heroic, is it ?
The story takes a turn after this event. Achilles has fallen in love with Polyxena and she reciprocates as well. He shares with her his only weakness- his heel. She is torn between her love and loyalty to her family.
She chooses loyalty and tells her brother Paris about the great hero’s one weakness. Paris kills Achilles by shooting an arrow to his heel.
For the ancient Greeks a great God-like hero has just died and Polyxena is then offered as a sacrifice.
Does this picture evoke a different feeling after learning the story ?