Marian Maguire references ancient Greek vase paintings to make statements about culture, colonial history, and the role of mythmaking in defining perspective and understanding. Maguire’s 2002 'Southern Myths' series is a revisualisation of Homer’s Iliad in the South Island of New Zealand. In transplanting ancient stories of war, death, love and remorse into the epic landscape of contemporary New Zealand, Maguire fuses various mythologies relating to people and the land for local and contemporary resonance.
In this artwork Hector, a prince and warrior of Troy, challenges Achilles to a duel only to die at his hands. Angered by the atrocities committed by the Trojans, Achilles later refuses to observe the usual customs afforded to the dead, instead desecrating the body of his foe by dragging it behind his chariot.
Otira Gorge, as represented by Dutch artist Petrus van der Velden, provides the dramatic backdrop for the duel. Maguire writes that ‘it seemed to me that the ultimate struggle between Achilles and his combatant, Hector, was enhanced by being located in an area that already presented so many external dangers.’