Penthesilea

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In Greek mythology, Penthesilea (Greek: Πενθεσίλεια) or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen, daughter of Ares and Otrera,[1] and sister of Hippolyta, Antiope and Melanippe. Quintus Smyrnaeus[2] explains more fully than pseudo-Apollodorus how Penthesilea came to be at Troy: Penthesilea had killed Hippolyta with a spear when they were hunting deer; this accident caused Penthesilea so much grief that she wished only to die, but, as a warrior and an Amazon, she had to do so honorably and in battle. She therefore was easily convinced to join in the Trojan War, fighting on the side of Troy's defenders.

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Penthesilea in Quintus Smyrnaeus' Posthomerica

Penthesilea arrives in Troy at the start of Posthomerica the night before the fighting is due to recommence for the first time after Hector's death and funeral. She came to Troy for two reasons: firstly, to prove to others that her people, the Amazons, are great warriors and can share the hardships of war and, secondly, to appease the Gods after she accidentally killed her sister, Hippolyta, while hunting. She arrived with twelve companions and promised the Trojans that she would kill Achilles. On her first, and only, day of fighting, Penthesilea kills many men and clashes with Telamonian Ajax, although there is no clear victor, before she comes face to face with Achilles, who had been summoned by Telamonian Ajax. Prior to Achilles' entrance, Penthesilea had tried to fight Telamonian Ajax but he had merely laughed off her attempts, thinking her unfit to face him. Achilles eventually kills her, needing only one blow to her breastplate to knock her over and leave her begging for her life. He is unmoved by her pleas, however, and kills her. He mocks her corpse until he removes her helmet. At this point, Achilles is so moved by Penthesilea's beauty that he feels intense pity and sadness because he wishes that he could have married her.[3]

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