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Aftermath of the Trojan War
and Returns of the Achaean Leaders

The Aftermath 

6024: Frieze of the treasury of Siphnos (525 BC): Achaeans and Trojans fighting over a dead hero. Archaeological Museum, Delphi.

"Fool, who in sack of towns lays temples waste, and tombs, the sanctuaries of the dead! He, sowing desolation, reaps destruction." (Poseidon. Euripides, Daughters of Troy 90).

“For in fact, Callicles, it is among the powerful that we find the specially wicked men.” (Socrates in Plato’s Gorgias 525d-526b)

Neither prudent nor just

True victor is he, who, exercising compassion at the hour of triumph, has the courage to proclaim clemency upon the defeated, thus enlarging his victory by turning physical strength into greatness of soul. For he has no merit who executes the unarmed, or let women be raped. And he who refrains himself and his soldiers obtains compliance out of respect, which is permanent, instead of obedience out of fear, which is the fool's transitory gain.

But of them who took Troy it has been said:

"... in no wise prudent or just were all." (Homer, Odyssey 3.134).

... for they succeeded in setting up several milestones in the field of crime, giving themselves to murder, rape, plunder, and destruction in all the forms they could conceive.

Unbridled violence

All buildings, except those belonging to traitors, were set on fire and destroyed as the wrath of the Achaeans spread over the city. Protected by night, they slaughtered whomever they found on the streets, or in homes, or in temples, killing parents and children alike, while loved ones watched just before they were killed too.

Priam 1, Cassandra, and Deiphobus 1

The members of the Trojan royal family, seeing what was happening, fled to the temples to seek protection, but to no avail: Priam 1 was slaughtered by Neoptolemus at the altar of Zeus, and Cassandra, who was clinging to a wooden image in the shrine of Athena, was dragged away from the sanctuary by Ajax 2 and raped by him. Deiphobus 1, who had married Helen after the death of Paris, was captured by Menelaus and tortured to death, having his ears, arms, nose and other members lopped off.

Citizens massacred

At daybreak, the Achaeans, not yet sated with Trojan blood, decided to pull away those who were still seeking protection at the altars of the gods and slay them, who looked, as they say, like trembling sheep. For those who had escaped the slaughter of the previous night and had not been taken by surprise as many others, had had many hours in the temples to ponder, between panic and hope, their miserable plight. When they had almost completed their work, they divided the captives of royal blood among them: Helen was restored to Menelaus. Polyxena 1 was given to Neoptolemus, who cut her throat on Achilles' grave. Cassandra was given to Agamemnon. Andromache was apportioned to Neoptolemus, and Hecabe 1 fell to Odysseus, but she, preferring death to enslavement, cursed the Achaeans in such evil ways that they finally stoned her to death. And little Astyanax 2, son of Hector 1, was thrown down from the battlements. Such were the deeds of the Achaeans at Troy, where they violated all places, sacred and profane, slaying or enslaving all who fell into their hands. But these, having no one to avenge them, were later avenged by the gods, who ruined the Achaeans:

"I will impose on them a return that is no return." (Athena to Poseidon. Euripides, Daughters of Troy 75).

The Achaeans fail to punish Ajax 2

Having divided the booty, the Achaeans decided to sail away, but they were delayed by Calchas, who declared that Athena was angry because of the outrage committed by Ajax 2. In the Achaean assembly, Odysseus advised to stone Ajax 2 to death for his crime, but either because no punishment was decided, or because Ajax 2 fled to a shrine, they let him alone.

Depart of the Atrides

It was then that Agamemnon and Menelaus started to quarrel, the latter wishing to sail away and the former insisting that they should stay and sacrifice to the goddess. Others have said that at this time the army began to revile the Atrides, holding them responsible for the deaths of Palamedes and Ajax 1. Although a full-grown rebellion was under way, Agamemnon and Menelaus were allowed to depart without harm, being the first to set sail, yet not as victors but as outcasts.

The Returns of the Achaean Leaders 


6409: Relief of an Athenian trireme. Acropolis ca. 400 BC. Acropolis Museum.

Menelaus, when he did sail, had almost all his ships destroyed by a storm. He put in at Sunium, the headland of Attica, with the remaining five ships, but was thence driven by winds to Crete and Egypt, wandering afterwards for seven or eight years, during which he visited the coasts of Libya, Cyprus and Phoenicia, before coming to Argos, on his way to Sparta. Agamemnon was expeditiously murdered on his arrival to Mycenae by his wife Clytaemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. These also killed Cassandra (whom Agamemnon had brought as a concubine), who, while still in the Troad, had predicted that Agamemnon would be treacherously slaughtered by members of his household. Menelaus, some say, learned about Agamemnon's death, when he landed in Crete and later, having come to Mycenae, he plotted unsuccessfully against Orestes 2.

End of Ajax 2

Ajax 2, one of those who caused the wrath of the gods, was destroyed by a storm. They say that Athena threw a thunderbolt against his ship which went to pieces. Ajax 2 made his way safe to a rock, but then Poseidon smote the rock with his trident and split it, causing him to fall into the sea and perish. Others say that Ajax 2 and some of his comrades had their fleet destroyed by a furious storm, and kept themselves afloat by clinging to boards and flotsam, until they were dashed against the Choeradian or Capherian crags of Euboea (the island off the eastern coast of Boeotia and Locris) during the night, lured by the torches of Nauplius 1, who thus avenged his son Palamedes.

Diomedes 2

The Palamedes affair haunted also Diomedes 2. For Palamedes' brother Oeax went to Argos and reported to Aegialia, falsely or not, that her husband was bringing a woman he preferred to his own wife. Aegialia then, being helped by the Argives, prevented Diomedes 2 from entering the city. Others have said that he took sanctuary at the altar of Hera, and fleeing with his companions by night, passed into Italy and went to the court of King Daunus, who killed him by a trick. But it has also been said that Diomedes 2 died of Old Age, or that he was caused to disappear while his companions were changed into birds.

Plots of Nauplius 1

Nauplius 1 also ruined King Idomeneus 1 of Crete, on account of what had happened to his son Palamedes. For when Nauplius 1 claimed satisfaction for the death of his son, the kings of Hellas favored Agamemnon, who had been the accomplice of Odysseus in the murder of Palamedes, and Nauplius 1 was refused any compensation. So Nauplius 1 came also to Crete, where he persuaded Idomeneus 1's wife Meda 2 to take a lover, Leucus 1, who seized power, preventing Idomeneus 1 to land in Crete. Later, the same Leucus 1 murdered both Meda 2 and her daughter Clisithyra, whom she had by Idomeneus 1.

Gathering at Corinth

Idomeneus 1, some say, became then a resident in Corinth, like many others that had escaped death at sea, or plot at home. There came also Diomedes 2, driven from Argos, and also Teucer 1, banished from Salamis by his father Telamon for not having prevented the death of his half-brother Ajax 1. In Corinth, they planned to combine their forces and attack their lost kingdoms one at a time. This plan could not be accomplished because, they say, Nestor opposed it, arguing that Hellas should not be torn to pieces by a series of civil wars.

Idomeneus 1

It has been told, however, that it was at this time that Diomedes 2 attacked Aetolia to defend his grandfather Oeneus 2, who had been deposed. When this expedition was successful, they add, most kings were reinstated, including Idomeneus 1. It was he, they say, who, after inviting Menelaus and Orestes 2 to Crete, interceded to reconcile them, making the former to promise (for the second time) his daughter Hermione in marriage to Orestes 2. It is also told that Idomeneus 1 received Odysseus, who landed in Crete with two ships he had hired from the Phoenicians, being the first to hear the incredible story of his wanderings, which had ended in disaster, since he had lost all his ships along with his companions. And this catastrophe, they say, was caused by Telamon, who hated Odysseus on account of Ajax 1's death. Idomeneus 1 is said to have died later in Crete, at the time when Nausicaa married Telemachus. But others, telling these things differently, have said that Idomeneus 1, like Diomedes 2 (and others as well), passed to Italy, being unable to remove the usurpers.


Neoptolemus and Phoenix 2 wandered through the northern landscapes of Hellas together with the Trojan prisoners Helenus 1 and Andromache, whom Neoptolemus had received as a prize. Neoptolemus set out for the country of the Molossians by land, burying Phoenix 2, who died on the way. Having vanquished the Molossians, he reigned over them and became king of the islands off Epirus (the Adriatic coastal region of Hellas between the Ambracian Gulf and Illyria), giving his own mother to Helenus 1 as wife. According to some, Neoptolemus returned in time to restore his grandfather Peleus, whom Acastus, the son of King Pelias 1 of Iolcus, had driven from his kingdom. However, the presence of Andromache in his household was a disturbance, since Neoptolemus was married to Menelaus' daughter Hermione. And since this girl had been promised in marriage twice—once to Neoptolemus and once to Orestes 2—a conflict arouse between the two, which resulted in the death of Neoptolemus at Delphi. Ever since, to suffer what one has done to others is called the "Punishment of Neoptolemus", for Neoptolemus killed Priam 1 in a temple, and in a temple was himself killed.

Menestheus 1 and Demophon 1

Menestheus 1, some say, was welcomed by the Athenians when he returned from Troy, bringing back Aethra 2 and her daughter Clymene 6, whom Helen had kept as maids. For when the DIOSCURI, looking for her sister (whom Theseus had abducted), attacked Attica, they not only deposed Theseus, giving the sovereignty of Athens to Menestheus 1, but also enslaved the aforementioned women, handing Aethra 2 over to Helen, who took her to Troy when she fled with Paris. Yet, others have said that Menestheus 1 did not return to Athens after the sack of Troy, but that he instead went to Melos (one of the Cyclades Islands), where he seized power after the death of King Polyanax. They add that Aethra 2 was brought back to Athens by Theseus' sons, her grandchildren Demophon 1 and Acamas 1, and that Demophon 1 became king after Menestheus 1. Yet Demophon 1 is also said to have been entangled in a love affair with a Thracian girl, and to have died after falling upon his own sword in Cyprus, when he opened a certain casket that he had received from that girl (see Theseus).

The sons of Theseus, Demophon 1 and Acamas 1, rescue their grandmother Aethra 2. 8129: Red-figured kalix-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water) with the rescue of Aithra by Demophon and Akamas. Athens about 490 BC. British Museum, London.


Odysseus wandered ten years. On his return to Ithaca, he succeeded in killing the SUITORS OF PENELOPE, who had started a sedition. Because of this massacre, some say, Odysseus was accused by the kinfolk of the slain SUITORS. The case was submitted to the judgment of King Neoptolemus of Epirus, who condemned him to exile. Some think that Neoptolemus judged in this way because he wanted to get possession of the island of Cephallenia, which is close to Ithaca. Odysseus is also reported to have gone to Thesprotia in Epirus, where he offered a certain sacrifice, following the instructions he had received in the Underworld from Tiresias. There he married Queen Callidice 2, and had by her a son Polypoetes 4, to whom he bequeathed the kingdom when he returned to Ithaca. Others say, however, that Odysseus went to Aetolia , where he married the daughter of the former leader of the Aetolians against Troy—King Thoas 2 of Calydon—having by her a son Leontophonus. In any case, Odysseus returned to Ithaca, where he died.


Guneus 2, a Thessalian, went to Libya and settled near the Cinyps river; Antiphus 5, from Cos (one of the Sporades islands, now Dodecanese, off the southwestern coast of Asia Minor), settled in Thessaly. Philoctetes emigrated to Italy. Phidippus, who had led an army from Cos, settled in Andros (the most northerly of the Cyclades Islands). Agapenor from Arcadia settled in Cyprus. Prothous 4 from Magnesia in eastern Thessaly, settled in Crete. Podalirius, following the instructions of the oracle at Delphi, settled in Caria (southwestern Asia Minor). Alcmaeon 1's son Amphilochus 2, said to have arrived late to the Trojan War, was killed in single combat by Mopsus 2 (son of Manto 1, daughter of Tiresias) in Caria. This Mopsus 2 had just caused Calchas' death, by defeating him in the art of divination.


Among the Trojans, Aeneas and Antenor 1 survived, owing to their treason, as some affirm. Antenor 1 settled in northern Italy, and Aeneas came first to Carthage (where he mislead Dido), and thence to Italy. But some assert that these two, when the Trojan War was over, fought against each other for the possession of the Troad, and that in this conflict Antenor 1 was successful. Aeneas then, forced to leave, passed to Italy. For his services as a traitor, some say, Agamemnon gave Helenus 1, and also Cassandra, their freedom. And after the intercession of Helenus 1 on behalf of Hecabe 1 and Andromache, Agamemnon again gave these two their freedom. It is said that those four Trojans migrated to the Thracian Chersonese, and settled there with twelve hundred followers. Others have said that Neoptolemus rewarded Helenus 1 with the sons of Hector 1 and with all the gold and silver that had been collected among the ACHAEAN LEADERS in payment for his services. But others have said that Helenus 1 followed Neoptolemus to Epirus, marrying Neoptolemus' mother Deidamia 1. After her, Helenus 1 married Andromache, whom Neoptolemus had kept as concubine until his death. Helenus 1 and Andromache, reigning in Epirus as king and queen, were later visited by the exiled Aeneas.

Bottom line by Dares

According to Dares, the war lasted ten years, six months and twelve days, and 886.000 Achaeans and 676.000 Trojans were killed in it. After the war, Aeneas departed, along with 3.400 men, with the same 22 ships that Paris had brought to Hellas when he abducted Helen, while Antenor 1 was followed in his exile by 2.500 men, and 1.200 followed Helenus 1 and Andromache in theirs.

Related sections






Trojan War: Connected Events (at Trojan War)

Apd.Ep.5, 6, and 7; Dares, 42-44; Dictys, 5 and 6.