The Skyrians of Euripides and Three Attic Works of Art


In the fragmentarily preserved Skyrians Euripides treats an episode related to the life of Achilles in Skyros. The young man is led to the court of king Lycomedes either by Peleus or by Thetis, in an attempt to be saved from his participation in the Trojan campaign and consequently from death. The young hero lives among the king’s daughters disguised in female clothing until Odysseus arrives, manages to disclose the identity of the ὠκύπους ἥρως (‘fast hero’) and persuades him to join the Trojan expedition. This article takes into consideration the preserved evidence for this play (its papyrus hypothesis in conjunction with the accounts of Ps.-Apollodorus and Hyginus), with the purpose of arguing in favour of its possible iconographic representation in three Attic works of art (figg. 1-3). In particular, in the two sarcophagi discussed in this article (figg. 1, 3) Achilles clearly reveals his identity by taking off his feminine garments. As regards the vasepainting (fig. 4), its role is probably ancillary, in that it might supplement a missing part of the tragic plot, i.e. the farewell of Achilles and Deidamia.