Polixena or Polyxena, in Greek mythology, was a Trojan princess.
Priam, king of Troy, with his second wife, Hecuba, had several children, Hector the oldest, followed by Paris (also called Alexander), Creuse, Laodice, Polixena, and Cassandra. In the text attributed to Dares of Phrygia, other children of Priam and Hecuba are included: Deiphobe, Helene, and Troilus, but Laodice is not listed.
Priam was the son of Laomedon and his mother could be Strymo, daughter of Scamander, Pacia, daughter of Othreus, or Leucippus.Hecuba could be the daughter of Dymas, Cisseus, or the river Sangarius with Metope.
Polixena was delicate, tall and very beautiful; her neck was thin, her eyes kind and her hair was blond and long, her body well proportioned, her legs were straight and her feet were the best. She surpassed all other women in beauty, and she was resourceful and good-hearted.
Meeting with Achilles
On the first anniversary of Hector's death, when Priam, Hecuba, Polixena and other Trojans went to the hero's tomb, Achilles saw Polixena's beauty, and fell in love with her. He proposed to Hecuba that if he would have Polixena for a wife, he would take back home his myrmidons.
Hecuba agreed to the plan, but Priam did not, because it made no sense to marry his daughter to an enemy, and this would not cause the other Greeks to end the war.
Priam proposed that the marriage would take place if it was combined with a peace agreement with all the Greeks. Achilles then lamented that because of one woman (Helen) all of Europe and Greece were at war, with several people having died, and that their freedom was in danger, so peace had to be made.
During the truce that followed Palamedes' death, Achilles, who refused to fight and was still in love with Polixena, said that the war started because of a woman, and that a permanent peace needed to be made.
Marriage to Achilles
After the deaths of Hector and Troilus, Hecuba, wishing to get revenge on Achilles, made a treacherous plan with her son Alexander. They called Achilles, on behalf of Priam, to the temple of Apollo, where Polixena was to be given in marriage to Achilles.
Achilles went to the temple accompanied by Antiochus, son of Nestor, and was treacherously attacked by Alexander and the bravest Trojans, who had been in the temple since the night before.
Achilles and Antiilochus fought bravely, but both ended up being killed by Alexander. Alexander wanted to deliver the bodies to be eaten by birds and dogs, but Helenus took them out of the temple and gave them to the Greeks.
During the sack of Troy, Hecuba gave Polixena to Aeneas to protect her. When Neoptolemus, Achilles' son, could not find Polixena, the cause of his father's death, he sent Antenor to Aeneas as a condition for the Trojans to leave. Polixena was handed over to Agamemnon, who handed her over to Neoptolemus. The latter murdered her on the tomb of her father Achilles, cutting her neck.
In the shrine at Delphi, Polygnoto had painted scenes of the capture of Troy, in one of which the captives Andromache, Medesicaste and Polixena are depicted, the first two wearing hoods, but Polixena with her hair tied up in the fashion of virgins.
The sacrifice of Polixena was represented in painting in the Acropolis of Athens, among other paintings that the geographer Pausanias attributed to Polygnoto. Besides Athens, Pausanias also saw this sacrifice represented in Pergamos.