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Neoptolemus killing Priam.

Neoptolemus (also Neoptólemos or Pyrrhus; Greek Νεοπτόλημος, "New War") was the son of the warrior Achilles and the princess Deidamia in Greek mythology. Achilles' mother foretold many years before Achilles birth that there would be a great war. She saw that her only son was to die if he fought in the war. She sought a place for him to avoid fighting in the Trojan War, due to a prophecy of his death in the conflict. She disguised him as a woman in the court of Lycomedes, the King of Scyros. During that time, he had an affair with the princess, Deidamea, who then gave birth to Neoptolemus. Neoptolemus was originally called Pyrrhus, because the female version of that name, Pyrrha, had been taken by his father while disguised as a woman.

The Greeks captured the Trojan seer, Helenus, and forced him to tell them under what conditions could they take Troy. Helenus revealed to them that they could defeat Troy if they could acquire the poisonous arrows of Heracles (then in Philoctetes' possession); steal the Palladium (which led to the building of the famous wooden horse of Troy); and put Achilles' son in the war.

Another version of the events on the Classical Greek hydria.

In response to the prophecy, the Greeks took steps to retrieve the arrows of Heracles and bring Neoptolemus to Troy. Odysseus was sent to retrieve Neoptolemus from Scyros. The two then went to Lemnos to retrieve Philoctetes. Years earlier, on the way to Troy, Philoctetes was bitten by a snake on Chryse. Agamemnon had advised that he be left behind because the wound was festering and smelled bad. This retrieval is the plot of Philoctetes, a play by Sophocles. Euripides, in his play Hekabe (also known as Hecuba), has a moving scene (ll 566-575) which shows Neoptolemus as a compassionate young man who kills Polyxena, Hekabe's daughter with ambivalent feelings and in the least painful way.

Neoptolemus was held by some to be cruel and savage. During and after the war, he killed Priam, Eurypylus, Polyxena, Polites and Astyanax, among others, enslaved Helenus, and forced Andromache to become his concubine. The ghost of Achilles appeared to the survivors of the war, demanding Polyxena, the Trojan princess, be sacrificed before anybody could leave. Neoptolemus did so. With Andromache, Helenus and Phoenix, Neoptolemus sailed to the Epirot Islands and then became the King of Epirus. With the enslaved Andromache, Neoptolemus was the father of Molossus and through him, according to the myth, an ancestor of Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great.

Neoptolemus Kingdom,Epirus

Although Neoptolemus is often depicted thus, the play Philoctetes by Sophocles shows him being a much kinder man, who honours his promises and shows remorse when he is made to trick Philoctetes. Two accounts deal with Neoptolemus' death. He was either killed after he attempted to take Hermione from Orestes as her father Menelaus promised, or after he denounced Apollo, the murderer of his father. In the first case, he was killed by Orestes. In the second, revenge was taken by the Delphian priests of Apollo.

Neoptolemus or Pyrrhus in art and literature

External links

Wikisource-logo.svg "Neoptolemus". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.  


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NEOPTOLEMUS (also called Pyrrhus), in Greek legend, the son of Achilles and Deidameia. He was brought up by his grandfather Lycomedes in the island of Scyros, and taken to Troy in the last year of the war by Odysseus, since Helenus had declared that the city could not be captured without the aid of a descendant of Aeacus. Neoptolemus was famed for his beauty, eloquence and bravery. He was one of the warriors in the wooden horse and slew Priam at the sack of Troy (Odyssey, xi. 508-526; Aeneid, ii. 527). Apart from these Trojan tales, Neoptolemus is a prominent figure in the legends of Epirus and of Delphi. He was the ancestor of the Molossian kings, who therefore claimed to be of pure Hellenic stock. He was murdered at Delphi, where he was buried, and a festival was held in his honour every eighth year.

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Simple English

at the Louvre, found in Vulci.]]

Neoptolemos (or Latin Neoptolemus) is a person in Greek mythology. He is an important person in the Trojan War.

Neoptolemus was the son of Achilles and Deidamea. He was needed to win the Trojan War. He killed King Priam and Astyanax, sacrificed Polyxena to his dead father Achilles, and took Helenos and Andromache with him as slaves.

He was later killed by Orestes because he was going to marry Hermione, who Orestes wanted for himself.

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