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In Greek mythology, Protesilaus (Greek: Πρωτεσίλαος), was the son of Iphiclus and Astyoche and the leader of the Phylaceans. [1] He was originally known as Iolaus, but began being called Protesilaus after being the first to die in Troy. [2] The etymology of the name is from πρώτ-ος (first) and σύλ-ησις (spoiling, plundering), i.e. the first to plunder Troy.

Protesilaus was one of the suitors of Helen. [3][4] He brought 40 ships with him to Troy.[5], and was the first to land. An oracle had prophesied that the first Greek to walk on the land after stepping off a ship in the Trojan War would be the first to die. [6] And so, after he killed four men, [7] he was himself slain by Hector. Alternatively, he was slain by Cycnus [8] After Protesilaus' death, his brother, Podarces, joined the war in his place. [9]

The gods had pity on his wife Laodamia, daughter of Acastus, and brought him up from Hades to see her. She was overjoyed thinking he had returned from Troy, but after they returned him to the underworld, and she could not bear it. [10] She made a bronze statue of her late husband and devoted herself to it. After her worried father had witnessed her behavior, he had it destroyed, however Laodamia jumped into the fire with it. [11] Another source claims his wife was Polydora, daughter of Meleager. [12]

The tomb of Protesilaus in Elaeus is mentioned in later history. During the Persian War, treasure placed at his tomb was plundered by Artayctes, under permission from Xerxes. The Greeks later capture and execute Artayctes, returning the treasure. [13] The tomb is mentioned again when Alexander the Great arrived at Elaeus on his campaign against the Persian Empire. He offered a sacrifice on the tomb, hoping not to repeat the same fate as Protesilaus when he arrived in Asia. Like Protesilaus before him, Alexander was the first to step foot on Asian soil during his campaign. [14]


References

  1. ^ Homer, Iliad 2.695
  2. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 103
  3. ^ Apollodorus, The Library 3.10.8
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 97
  5. ^ Apollodorus, The Library E.3.14
  6. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 103
  7. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 114
  8. ^ Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy 4.523
  9. ^ Homer, Iliad 2.705
  10. ^ Apollodorus, The Library E.3.30
  11. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 104
  12. ^ The Cypria, Fragment 17
  13. ^ Herodotus, The Histories 9.116
  14. ^ Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander 1.11


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