Penthesileia and Achilles
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Who is Penthesileia?

This vase was painted by Exekias

Penthesileia (pen-tha-sill-AY-ah) was the Queen of the Amazons, a group of warriors who were all women and girls - according to Greek mythology. Her story is set a little before the time of the Trojan War, in the Late Bronze Age.

According to the myth, Penthesileia and the Amazons lived to the north of Greece, around the Black Sea. When the Greek hero Achilles was fighting the Trojan War, Penthesileia went to fight with the Trojans. Achilles and Penthesileia were fighting each other hand to hand, when their eyes met and suddenly they fell deeply in love.

amazon metope
A metope from Sicily showing Amazons fighting men

Unfortunately, just at that moment Achilles' sword went right through Penthesileia and killed her. Achilles was very upset by this tragedy.

Compare this story to other similar Indo-European stories: the Persian story of Sohrab and Rustem and the German story of Hildebrand.

More about Achilles

Bibliography and further reading about Penthesileia:

D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, by Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire.

Pandora's Box: A Three-Dimensional Celebration of the Mythology of Ancient Greece, by Sara Maitland and Christos Kondeatis (1995). Not really about Pandora specifically, but a complex of stories, games, and puzzles about Greek mythology. People love it!

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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 28 April, 2017