There are several conflicting accounts of the death of baby Scamandrius (aka Astyanax), son Hector and Andromache, but several important sources, including Pausanias [Descriptions of Greece, 10.25.9], Ovid [Metamorphoses, Book 13, 399-428] and perhaps most movingly, Euripides in The Trojan Woman [709 ff.], agree as to this particular manner of death.
Infanticide was not unknown in Ancient Greece. Oedipus was famously exposed as an infant to be devoured by wild beasts, an event from which he takes his name. Euripides has Agamemnon infamously killing Clytmnestra's child from her previous marriage by dashing the infant to the earth [Iphigenia at Aulis, 1150-52], a similar fate to Astyanax.
But my real qustion is why the wall?
My instincts lead me to believe it may have been some form of attempted sacrifice to Poseidon, who raised the mighty walls of Troy, as the Achaeans were preparing for the perilous sea voyage back to Greece. (I say attempted, as it did not seem to work.)
Support for a placatory ritual may be found in the bookending of the Trojan War with the dual sacrifices of Iphigenia and Polyxena to raise the winds to sail to Troy and back. Further support for the ritual nature of the slaying may be found in Calchas who calls for the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and likewise calls for the death of Astyanax in this very particular manner in the Seneca's Troades [see line 634 ff. in particular]:
"Since the boy has forestalled the lustral rites we owed the walls and cannot fulfil the priest’s command, snatched from us by a better fate, the word of Calchas is that only thus can a peaceful homecoming be granted to our ships, if the waves be appeased..."
I'm interested in any thoughts, observations, support of this hypothesis, or competing theories.
So why was Astyanax thrown from the wall?