Achilles and Troilus

A marble statue of a warrior carrying off an apparently dead boy.

Roman creation, late 2nd – early 3rd century AD. From the Baths of Caracalla, Rome.

The naked, muscular warrior, thought to represent Achilles or Neoptolemos, strides confidently towards us, holding his victim by the left ankle and slung carelessly, head down, over his left shoulder, as if he were merely an animal killed in the hunt. In his right hand he holds a sword.

Homeric heroes are often portrayed as having little respect for the corpses of their opponents, as in the case of Achilles dragging Hektor’s corpse behind his chariot, and they were seen as trophies and symbols of both victory and the humiliation of the families and compatriots of the vanquished. In this case the victim is believed to be one of the young Trojan princes, either Troilus or Astyanax (Ἀστυάναξ), the son of Hektor and Andromache.

(Naples Archaeological Museum, Italy.)

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