Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica

LCL 19: 670-671



The women of Troy are assigned to their new masters. Helen’s beauty prevents the Greeks from blaming her. There are general celebrations, with bards singing of the war. Menelaüs forgives Helen. Achilles appears to Neoptolemus in a dream, gives him moral advice, and demands the sacrifice of Polyxena to appease his continuing anger over Briseïs. Her sacrifice, and the misery of her mother Hecuba, are described at length. Hecuba is metamorphosed into a dog made of stone. The voyage gets under way, with very different emotions experienced by the Greeks and the captive women. Athena complains to Zeus of Locrian Ajax’ sacrilege and is lent the weapons of storm. The ships are scattered. Ajax is defiant to the end. Many perish on the Capherean Rocks. Poseidon destroys all trace of the Greeks’ walls at Troy. The survivors come to land. The Odyssey can begin.

Most of these events were treated in the Sack of Ilium and the Returns. The sacrifice of Polyxena and Hecuba’s metamorphosis feature in Euripides’ Hecuba (cf. Ovid, Met. 13.429–575). Sophocles wrote a Polyxena, now lost.


The storm scene has elements in common with that in Book 1 of the Aeneid (34–123). The storm and the assigning of the women are described in Euripides’ Trojan Women (48–97, 235–92). Locrian Ajax’ death is mentioned in Book 4 of the Odyssey (499–511). The destruction of the Greek walls is foretold in Book 12 of the Iliad (3–33).

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.quintus_smyrnaeus-posthomerica.2018