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[30] Of the Greeks the first to land from his ship was Protesilaus, and having slain not a few of the barbarians, he fell by the hand of Hector.1 His wife Laodamia loved him even after his death, and she made an image of him and consorted with it. The gods had pity on her, and Hermes brought up Protesilaus from Hades. On seeing him, Laodamia thought it was himself returned from Troy, and she was glad; but when he was carried back to Hades, she stabbed herself to death.2


1 Compare Hom. Il. 2.698-702; Proclus in Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, ed. G. Kinkel, p. 19; Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 245; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.759ff.; Tzetzes, Antehomerica 221ff.; Eustathius on Hom. Il. ii.701, p. 325, and on Od. xi.521, p. 1697; Paus. 4.2.5; Hyginus, Fab. 103; Dictys Cretensis ii.11. The common tradition, followed by Apollodorus, was that Protesilaus fell by the hand of Hector; but according to others, his slayer was Aeneas, or Achates, or Euphorbus. See Eustathius on Hom. Il. ii.701, p. 325, and on Od. xi.521, p. 1697; Tzetzes, Antehomerica 230ff. The Greeks had received an oracle that the first of their number to leap from the ships would be the first to perish. See Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 245; Hyginus, Fab. 113; Ovid, Her. xiii.93ff. Protesilaus was reckoned by Paus. 1.34.2 among the men who after death received divine honours from the Greeks. He was buried in the Thracian Chersonese, opposite the Troad, and was there worshipped as a god (Tzetzes, Scholiast on Lycophron 532). His grave at Elaeus, or Eleus, in the peninsula was enclosed in a sacred precinct, and his worshippers testified their devotion by dedicating to him many vessels of gold and silver and bronze, together with raiment and other offerings; but when Xerxes invaded Greece, these treasures were carried off by the Persians, who desecrated the holy ground by sowing it with corn and turning cattle loose on it to graze (Hdt. 9.116). Tall elms grew within the sacred precinct and overshadowed the grave; and it is said that the leaves of the trees that looked across the narrow sea to Troy, where Protesilaus perished, burgeoned early but soon faded and fell, like the hero himself, while the trees that looked away from Troy still kept their foliage fresh and fair. See Philostratus, Her. iii.1. Others said that when the elms had shot up so high that Troy could be seen from them away across the water, the topmost boughs immediately withered. See Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica vii.408ff.; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xvi.238.

2 According to the author of the epic Cypria the name of Protesilaus's wife was Polydora, daughter of Meleager (Paus. 4.2.7). Later writers, like Apollodorus, called her Laodamia. As to her tragic tale, see Lucian, Dial. Mort. xxiii. (who does not name her); Eustathius on Hom. Il. ii.701, p. 325; Scholiast on Aristides, vol. iii. pp. 671ff., ed. Dindorf; Tzetzes, Chiliades ii.763ff.; Prop. i.19.7-10; Hyginus, Fab. 103, 104; Ovid, Her. xiii; Serv. Verg. A. 6.447; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 51, 147 (First Vatican Mythographer 158; Second Vatican Mythographer 215). According to Hyginus, Fab. 103, Laodamia had prayed that Protesilaus might be restored to her for only three hours; her prayer was granted, but she could not bear the grief of parting with him, and died in his arms (Servius, l.c.). A rationalistic version of the story ran that Laodamia had made a waxen image of her dead husband and secretly embraced it, till her father ordered it to be burned, when she threw herself into the fire and perished with the image (Hyginus, Fab. 104). According to Ovid, Laodamia made the waxen image of her absent lord and fondled it even in his lifetime. Her sad story was the theme of a tragedy of Euripides (TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 563ff.), as it is of a well-known poem of Wordsworth (Laodameia).

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