Neoptolemus killing Priam.
; Greek Νεοπτόλημος, "New War") was the son
of the warrior Achilles
and the princess
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
(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
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
his play Hekabe
), 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
, Polyxena, Polites
others, enslaved Helenus
, and forced
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
. 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
Although Neoptolemus is often depicted thus, the play
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
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
Neoptolemus or Pyrrhus in art and literature