Briseis

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Image:Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 044.jpg
Fresco in the Villa Valmarana, Vicenza Italy: Eryrates and Talthybius take Briseis from Achilles to Agamemmon

In Greek mythology, Brisēís (Greek Βρισηίς) was a Trojan widow (from Lyrnessus) who was abducted during the Trojan War by Achilles upon the death of her three brothers and husband, King Mynes of Lyrnessus, in the fight. After an oracle forced Agamemnon to give up Chryseis, a woman he had captured, the king ordered his heralds Talthybius and Eryrates to take Briseis from Achilles as compensation. Achilles was offended by this seizure and, as a result, withdrew from the fighting. He did not return to the fray until the death of Patroclus.

The retirement of Achilles to his tent is the first event of Homer's Iliad. With Achilles removed from the conflict, the Trojans enjoyed a period of success. After Achilles' return to the fighting, Agamemnon restored Briseis to Achilles.

Briseis's real name was Hippodameia, "Briseis" being a patronym as a daughter of Briseus.

In the Iliad, Briseis is Achilles' captive, given to him by the Greek army as a prize. He also loves her, comparing their relationship with that of man and wife, and is angry at the thought that Agamemnon sleeps with her. When the quarrel is resolved, Agamemnon swears to Achilles that he has never slept with Briseis.<ref>Iliad 9.334-343, 19.261-263.</ref>

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[edit] Briseis in film

Image:Briseis.png
Briseis and Achilles in the 2004 film 'Troy'.

In the 2004 film Troy Briseis (played by Rose Byrne) is portrayed as a cousin of Paris and Hector, a young woman who decided to become a priestess in the temple of Apollo. The film's depiction of Briseis departs from that of the Greek myths in several respects, most notably in that she is a composite of the mythological characters Briseis, Cassandra, and Clytemnestra.

Achilles' men give her to him after they ravage the temple. Agamemnon takes Briseis and Achilles refuses to fight. After a devastating loss and retreat, Agamemnon agrees to give up Briseis. Achilles saves Briseis from the Greek men after they try to rape her. Achilles and Briseis fall in love and at one point Briseis inspires Achilles to go home.

Briseis's role as a priestess and tha object of Agamemnon's desire is similar to the one that Cassandra plays in the Illiad, though the more familiar aspects of Cassandra are absent.

Hector, believing that Patroclus is Achilles, kills Patroclus. Hector's action enrages Achilles to avenge Patroclus' death and thus kill Hector. When King Priam comes to get the body of his son, Achilles gives Briseis back to him. When the Greeks invade Troy, Achilles goes to find Briseis and save her. Briseis is taunted by Agamemnon, who intends to take her as a slave, and she kills him by stabbing a knife into his neck (fulfilling the role that mythology gives to Clytemnestra). Achilles saves her from being killed by Greek soldiers and tells her to come with him, but is interrupted by Paris who shoots him with arrows, the first into his heel, killing him to avenge his brother Hector.

[edit] References to Briseis in novels

In Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card, the captivity of Petra Arkanian is compared to that of Briseis.

In The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Briseis fell in love with Achilles and chose to leave Troy to be with him.

The novel "Daughter of Troy," by Sarah B. Franklin is written from Briseis's point of view.

[edit] Notes

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[edit] See also

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Briseis

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