- Dale E. Monson
Libretto subject popular in the 18th century. Homer ’s Iliad recounts the unfortunate early life of Andromache, daughter of Eëtion, the king of Thebes in Cilicia. Andromache’s husband Hector, as well as her father and brothers, are killed in the Trojan war, and her son Astyanax (also known as Scamandrius) is thrown from the walls. (In some versions of the legend he survives; librettos using this story are sometimes entitled Astianatte rather than Andromaca.) Virgil, in the Aeneid, tells of her subsequent enslavement by Pyrrhus (Neoptolemus), the son of Achilles, of her journey with him to Epirus where he is king, and of her bearing his son, Molossus. Pyrrhus later deserts her for Helen’s daughter, Hermione, but Orestes, consumed with jealousy for Hermione, kills him. Andromache marries Helenus, Hector’s brother.
Two famous dramas on this epic preceded the several opera librettos of the 18th century: the Andromache of Euripides...