In the prologue to his Prose Edda, the Icelandic scribe Snorri Sturluson states that Memnon (whom he says is also known as Munon) was one of the kings present at Troy, who married Troana, the daughter of king Priam. He further relates that they gave birth to their son Tror, that is, Thor, born with hair “fairer than gold”, who later becomes king of Thrace, and ancestor to all the Germanic kings.
As a warrior he was considered to be almost Achilles’ equal in skill. During the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy’s defense. The death of Memnon echoes that of Hector, another defender of Troy whom Achilles also killed out of revenge for a fallen comrade, Patroclus. After Memnon’s death, Zeus was moved by Eos’ tears and granted him immortality. Memnon’s death is related at length in the lost epic Aethiopis, composed after The Iliad circa the 7th century BC. Quintus of Smyrna records Memnon’s death in Posthomerica. His death is also described in Philostratus’ Imagines.
Links to Sesotris
Roman writers and later classical Greek writers such as Diodorus Siculus believed Memnon hailed from “Aethiopia”, a geographical area in Africa, usually south of Egypt.
Memnon was Egyptian…
Because the original historical work by Arctinus of Miletus only survives in fragments, most of what is known about Memnon comes from post-Homeric Greek and Roman writers. Homer only makes passing mention to Memnon in the Odyssey. Herodotus called Susa “the city of Memnon.”
Herodotus describes two tall statues with Egyptian and Ethiopian dress that some, he says, identify as Memnon; he disagrees, having previously stated that he believes it to Sesostris. One of the statues was on the road from Smyrna to Sardis. A carved figure matching this description has been found near the old road from Smyrna to Sardis.
Pausanias describes how he marveled at a colossal statue in Egypt, having been told that Memnon began his travels in Africa:
In Egyptian Thebes, on crossing the Nile to the so called Pipes, I saw a statue, still sitting, which gave out a sound. The many call it Memnon, who they say from Aethiopia overran Egypt and as far as Susa. The Thebans, however, say that it is a statue, not of Memnon, but of a native named Phamenoph, and I have heard some say that it is Sesostris. This statue was broken in two by Cambyses, and at the present day from head to middle it is thrown down; but the rest is seated, and every day at the rising of the sun it makes a noise, and the sound one could best liken to that of a harp or lyre when a string has been broken
Philostratus of Lemnos in his work Imagines, describes artwork of a scene which depicts Memnon:
Now such is the scene in Homer, but the events depicted by the painter are as follows: Memnon coming from Ethiopia slays Antilochus, who has thrown himself in front of this father and he seems to strike terror among the Achaeans – for before Memnon’s time black men were but a subject for story – and the Achaeans, gaining possession of the body, lament Antilochus, both the sons of Atreus and the Ithacan and the son of Tydeus and the two heroes of the same name.