After winning Achilles’s arms, Ulysses sails to the island where Philoctetes is marooned and retrieves the arrows which Hercules once gave Philoctetes. He returns to Troy where Priam—Hector’s father—is sacrificed on an altar for Jupiter. Hector’s son Astyanax is thrown from a tower. The Trojan women cling to the statues of Troy’s gods and kiss their native soil, but the Greeks drag them on board the ships setting sail for Greece. Ulysses finds Hecuba—King Priam’s wife—wandering among the graves of the Trojans. He drags her away, but she manages to smuggle Hector’s ashes with her in her skirt.
This scene portrays how women are left desolate after war. On both sides of the conflict, women are left bereft of their husbands, fathers, and sons. On the losing side, the women are bereft of their homes as well as of their men. Not only do the women suffer all this loss, but they are also kidnapped by the winning army, taken away from their homes, and foreseeably raped. In this way, war increases the threats that women already face in the Metamorphoses.