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The Tangled Ways of ZeusAnd Other Studies In and Around Greek Tragedy$
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Alan H. Sommerstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199568314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.001.0001

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‘The rugged Pyrrhus’: the son of Achilles in tragedy

‘The rugged Pyrrhus’: the son of Achilles in tragedy

(p.259) 18 ‘The rugged Pyrrhus’: the son of Achilles in tragedy
The Tangled Ways of Zeus

Alan H. Sommerstein (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the presentation by Sophocles of Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. In Homer he is a flawless hero; in most other archaic poetry and art, he is mainly a perpetrator of atrocities; in the whole output of Aeschylus and Euripides he is never made a dramatic character at all. In Sophocles he is sometimes noble (The Scyrians, Eurypylus) and sometimes base (Hermione and probably Polyxena), far baser than he is made to seem in the corresponding Euripidean plays (Andromache, Hecuba) in which he does not appear. In Philoctetes, where his very presence is innovative, he gradually changes before our eyes from apprentice villain to true hero — but we are reminded at the end that he is destined not to maintain that standard.

Keywords:   Sophocles, Euripides, Neoptolemus, Eurypylus, Hermione, Polyxena, Andromache, Hecuba, Philoctetes

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