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Early years

Penthesilea (or Penthesileia) was the daughter of the War God Ares and of Otrera, first queen of the Amazons living in Themiscyra, on the Thermodon River, in Anatolia.[1]

At the time of the Trojan War, Penthesilea hunted with her sister Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons. Hurling her spear towards a stag, she missed and killed Hippolyte. She soon grew in fear of her people's reproaches. She was also haunted by the Furies, who tormented those who killed their kin.[2]

Trojan War

Along twelve fellow Amazons (Clonié, Polemusa, Derinoè, Evandrè, Antandrè, Bremusa, Hippothoè, Harmothoè, Alcibiè, Derimacheia, Antibrotè and Thermodosa), Penthesilea came to Troy in order to cleanse her soul.[2]

The Amazons were acclaimed by the crowd and welcomed by King Priam and his family. There, she swore to kill Achilles and repel the Argives back to their coasts, despite the accusation of arrogance from Andromache, widow of Hector whom Achilles had slain. During the night, Athena (who favored Achilles) sent a lying dream to Penthesileia, claiming that by fighting Achilles face to face, she should achieve the mighty deed of defeating him.[2]

The next day, she went to battle leading both her Amazons and the Trojans, galvanized by the warrior woman. Priam prayed for help to Zeus, but saw an eagle grasping a dove and interpreted it as the fact Penthesileia would not return alive. Thersites alarmed the Argives, and they met the Trojans in the battlefield. There, Penthesileia killed Molion, Persinous, Eilissus, probably Podarces (after he avenged his friend Menippus by killing Clonié). As Idomeneus, Meriones, Idomeneus and other decimated the Amazons, Penthesilea entered a fury, breaking the Argive ranks and demanding that Achilles or Ajax came to battle (but they were both on the graveside of Patroclus, killed by Hector, and they couldn't hear the battle).[2]

At that moment, the Argives started fleeing from her, believing her to be Athena or Eris. Penthesileia's feats also motivated Meneptolemus' wife Tisiphone, who galvanized the other wives into fighting the Argives, but they were dissuaded in doing so by Theano, priestess of Athena. Ajax and Achilles finally heard the panic cries of the Argives, and returned to the battlefield. Ajax decided to deal with the Trojans, leaving Achilles and Penthesileia to their duel. Penthesileia was soon defeated, and while Achilles gazed at her in sorrowing love, Ares (from Olympus) enraged at his daughter's death.[2]

Thersites came mocking Achilles but was killed immediately. Achilles then let the Trojans retrieve Penthesilea's corpse and full armor, and she was burned on a funeral pyre to which Priam heaped with "everything that is right and proper to burn around a mighty queen in battle slain", and buried her Amazons beside her.[2]




It is unclear if Penthesileia became Queen after she accidentally killed her sister Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. It is stated that "Priam had her great pyre heaped with treasure... ...everything that it is right and proper to burn around a mighty queen in battle slain."[2]

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