Penthesilea (forcing men to mourn) In Greek mythology, an Amazon, daughter of Ares and Otrera, who fought for the Trojans during the Trojan War after Achilles had killed Hector. Penthesilea was killed by Achilles’ spear. When he saw her great beauty, Achilles fell in love with her and returned her body to King Priam for proper funeral honours. Achilles’ display of sentimentality made Thersites ridicule him, and Achilles killed him. The myth is told in Vergil’s Aeneid (book 1), Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 12), and the Aethiopia, an anonymous epic poem that continues Homer’s Iliad, written about 775 b.c.e. Hugo Wolf’s symphonic poem Penthesilea is based on Heinrich von Kleist’s poetic tragedy Penthesilea. Penthesilea’s death is often portrayed in ancient Greek art. It was one of the subjects painted by Panaenus around Phidias’s statue of Zeus.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante