Memnon, a hero of the Trojan war, son of Tithonus and Eos or Aurora. Homer in the Odyssey describes him as the handsome son of Eos who brought a force of Ethiopians to assist in the defence of Troy against the Greeks. Hesiod calls him king of the Ethiopians. He was slain by Achilles. The Greeks in later ages confounded him with the Egyptian king Amenophis (Amen-hotep) III., whose colossal statue near Thebes excited their wonder by its vocal powers. It is the northernmost of two colossal sitting figures of black stone, in the approach to a temple now ruined, in the quarter of western Thebes called Memnonia by the Greeks. The height of each of these statues is 47 ft., and they rest upon pedestals about 12 ft, high. The upper half of the vocal Mem-non was broken off and thrown down, but was afterward restored. On the lower part are 72 inscriptions in Greek and Latin (the earliest being dated A. D. 62), by the emperor Hadrian, the empress Sabina, and by several governors of Egypt and other travellers, official and private, testifying that they have visited the Mem-non and heard his voice. The sound is said to have resembled the twanging of a harp string or the striking of brass, and it occurred at sunrise or soon after.
Strabo, who visited it with Aelius Gallus, the governor of Egypt, says he heard the sound, but could vi not affirm whether it proceeded from the pedestal or the statue itself, or even from some of those who stood near its base." He does not mention the name of Memnon, and it was not till after his time apparently that the Romans began to suppose the statue to be that of the son of Tithonus. The stone in the lap of the statue, when struck with a hammer, rings with a metallic sound; and as there is a square hole in the body just behind this, it is conjectured that the sound was produced by a person concealed therein. Another theory is that the sound was the effect of the expansion of this stone by the sun's rays, as a similar sound has been thus produced from one of the roof stones of the temple at Karnak.