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Rhesus: Myth And Iconography

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Chapter Summary

The Trojan cycle includes a small number of exceptionally valiant warriors, notably Penthesileia, Memnon, and Eurypylus, who exemplify a distinct narrative pattern: they join the war at a late stage, they perform ἀριστεῖα, and they invariably die in action. Rhesus complies with pattern qua late comer and, reputedly, a formidable warrior; but he is otherwise a special case in that he gets killed in his sleep without ever having an opportunity to show his prowess on battlefield. Late sources afford us glimpses into alternative versions of the myth, in which Rhesus seems to have fully conformed to the pattern in that he managed to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy before meeting his death. Before proceeding to an examination of myth's variants, this chapter overviews both the Doloneia and Rhesus, with a view to bringing out similarities and differences both between them and with respect to mythical pattern identified above.

Keywords: ἀριστεῖα; Doloneia; Eurypylus; Iconography; Memnon; mythical pattern; Penthesileia; Rhesus; Trojan cycle; warrior



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