The death of Priam and Astyanax



Despite the bravery of the Trojans and their allies, Troy finally fell to the Greeks after ten years of siege. The cruel sack of the city brought suffering to many people, but most of all to the family of gallant Hector. The Greeks were reluctant to let his baby son Astyanax live for fear that he would avenge his father. Thus Astyanax was thrown to his death from the walls of Troy. Hector's father, Priam, the long-suffering king of Troy, also met his death in the sack of the city, dragged away from the altar at which he had sought sanctuary or actually killed upon it, as goes the story told by the poets.

But the artists invented an image even more terrible: they showed a Greek warrior, the son of Achilles (Achilles himself had been killed before the sack) grasping the infant Astyanax by the ankle, about to bring his tiny body smashing down on Priam, who lies before him, his back flattened against the altar, a despairing hand brought up in front of his face - the past and the future of the stricken city to be obliterated at one stroke.