Achilles in Love

Achilles and Penthesilea

This is an ancient Greek painting on a big platter.
It illustrates a story the Greeks all knew.
The man is Achilles, the Greek hero, and the woman is Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons (mythical warrior women).

Remember the famous war between the Greeks and the Trojans?
Penthesilea joined the Trojans and meets Achilles on the battlefield. They fight and Achilles kills her, though not before—the very moment the picture illustrates—he falls in love with her!

The nameless artist, one of the greatest, drew the look of love (and death) in Penthesilea’s eyes.  She reaches up to touch Achilles’ breast while her legs buckle. Achilles seems to pause in thought the moment he drives his sword into his enemy’s breast—and he looks into her eyes.


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3 Responses to Achilles in Love

  1. Ella says:

    Wow :)) So cool. I love everything to do with the ancient Greek (Elada)… Achilles is a great warrior , the best. This is a weakness , but at the end you can see that war i she’s life , that he will even give up love for he’s true destiny in life. Remember Tethis , he mum? She asked him what will he prefer.. and he said that war & fame& being a legend in even 1000 years.


    It is really a heart-touching story– very often or better say some times love suddenly emerges from extreme hatred — Achilles feeling the flame of love when he is slaying her and has no time to reflect and stop and will have all the time in life to repent ; Penthesillea’s last look of love enveloped in death — anti-climax for both. But are not our sweetest songs are those which tell of the saddest things! Greek mythology is certainly great and deep. However, we should not forget that we are reacting over this mythological episode in the light of 21st century human knowledge and mental development. In the present age our minds should not remain shackled in regional, national or racial points of views and should treat all types of literature and knowledge all over the world left by anyone as a common heritage of mankind. whether we like them or not but all persons in the past — good or bad; great or lowly; lovely and kind or not — were our common ancestors and should be regarded as such. We cannot say so emphatically that “nobody invented better stories” if we have not read ancient Chinese, Hindu, Arabic, Iranian, Egyptian and Turkish classics more particularly the MAHABHARATA EPIC of the Hindus about which it is said “Whatever is here is found elsewhere; what is not here is nowhere.” Reading one story or one epic is not sufficient for making a sweeping comment. The legend of Sohrab and Rustam of Iran is no less heart-rending and can make any reader weep in the end. Achilles was a cruel fighter having the divine gift of invincibility whereas Penthesillea was just a brave woman fighter and was no match to her rival. If she fell fighting such a rival, the credit is entirely hers. One feels extreme hatred for Achilles if one reads the story further and learns that he had indulged in necrophilia with the dead Penthesillea that is to say had raped her dead body. The Sohrab-Rustam story is very different. Sohrab– Rustam’s only son– wandering in search of his legendary father, the best fighter of his age living incognito in exile, having only one way to find him i.e. to fight the bravest and at last fighting his own father, always not making the fatal blow and asking “Are you Rustam?” and the latter keeping quiet till the time Rustam makes the final fatal blow on Sohrab and Sohrab’s telling him that his father Rustam will kill him the moment he learns that you have killed his son – the only son dying in the old father’s lap. For me Sohrab-Rustam story is far far superior in love and tragedy than Achilles-Penthesillea’s. HARSHA VARDHAN. 15.6.2012 (DELHI)

  3. erikatakacs says:

    Wow, I somehow missed this story, and it’s a beautiful one, as always with the Greeks. Nobody invented better stories, sometimes heart warming and sometimes heart wrenching. No wonder most European nations used them as core source in their folk tales and fairy tales.

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