The Penthesileiad

by Greg R. Fishbone
based on Posthomerica I by Quintus of Smyrna

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Directly following the Iliad, a tragically misthrown javelin brings Queen Penthesileia and her crew of Amazon warriors to the besieged city of Ilion and into the next stage of the Trojan War.   This Mythoversal Penthesileiad is a free verse adaptation of an ancient tale of love and war, an integral part of the Epic Cycle that includes works in the Homeric tradition.  

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An Epic Recap

 

Previously in the Epic Cycle...

 
Trojan Prince Paris gains the assistance of Aphrodite by awarding her the prize in an all-goddess beauty pageant.   Asked to pick the bride of his choice, Paris chooses Helen, universally acknowledged to be the most beautiful woman in the world. This, despite the fact that Paris was already married to Oenone, while Helen was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta.   Paris and Helen take shelter in Troy, and so, a thousand ships carry an Achaean army to undertake a brutal campaign against the Anatolian city, led by Overlord Agamemnon, who just happens to be Menelaus's brother.
Nine years into the Achaean siege of Troy, the greatest Achaean warrior, Achilles, is sidelined with a bad case of "the angries" after a conflict with the Achaean overlord, Agamemnon.   This short phase of the war ends with devastating losses on both sides. Achilles's closest friend, Patroclus, is dead, as is Hector, Priam's assumed heir and Troy's strongest protector. The rage of Achilles abates, having sealed him into the destiny of a short life and glorious legacy.   The two sides pause to mourn for their dead with no immediate prospects for ending their years-long stalemate.
 
And then, an Amazon comes...
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Book Trailer

 
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Characters

 
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Focus Characters

 
Penthesileia Portrait
Penthesileia An Amazon Queen, daughter of Ares and Otrera
 
Evandre Portrait
Far-throwing Evandre No one is more accurate with a spear
Hippothoe Portrait
War-scarred Hippothoe A wily veteran of a hundred battles
Achilles Portrait
Achilles The Best of the Achaeans.
 
Telamonian Ajax Portrait
Telamonian Ajaxt The Strongest of the Achaeans, also called "Great Ajax" to avoid confusing him with "Little Ajax."
Podarces Portrait
Podarces A prince of Phylace who assumed leadership of the Phylacian troops early in the war after the death of his brother, Protesilaus
Odysseus Portrait
Odysseus The Sneakiest of the Achaeans.
Thersites Portrait
Thersites The Most Obnoxious of the Achaeans. Generally despised by his allies for being socially unaware. Surely there are great things in store for him in the future!
Priam Portrait
King Priam King of Troy and father to quite a lot of children
 
Andromache Portrait
Andromache Widow of Hector, the former crown prince, whose recent death at the hands of Achilles still clouds the city's mood
Cassandra Portrait
Cassandra A daughter of Priam and Hecuba whose dire predictions are always accurate and always ignored
Paris Portrait
Paris Also called Alexandros, a son of Priam and Hecuba who judged a beauty pageant of goddesses and "won" the "right" to abduct Helen of Sparta
Tisiphone Portrait
Tisiphone Daughter of a humble carpenter-turned-soldier, and would-be revolutionary
Erinyes Portrait
The Erinyes Spirits of vengeance against deaths caused by family members
 
Aphrodite portrait
Aphrodite The Goddess of Love who backs the Trojans and allowed Paris to abduct Helen
Athena portrait
Athena Goddess of War and Wisdom who backs the Achaeans, especially her favorite warrior, Odysseus
Ares portrait
Ares God of war and blunt objects, father of Penthesileia
Thetis portrait
Thetis An Ocean Goddess, mother of Achilles
Eos.jpg
Eos Goddess of the Dawn, who opens the gate for Helios each morning
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Chapters in Verse

 
Chapter 1: "Having Homer for Dinner" An introduction to a famous author.
 
Homer.jpg
Focus Character Amalgamated Homer
 
Setting A home in the modern era.
 
Author Notes
There's a genie in this chapter, although I realize there are no genies in Greek mythology. If it helps, imagine a leprechaun instead.
 
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Chapter 2: "The Life That's Been Erased" Achilles sings his grief.
 
Achilles Portrait
Focus Character Achilles
 
Setting The Tomb of Patroclus, directly after the events of Homer's Iliad
 
Author Notes
Quintus didn't need to introduce his readers to Achilles. His readers had all just finished their fifth reading the Iliad and were rolling from the end credits of that book into this one. My assumption is that my readers may have read some study notes back in high school, and that was twenty years ago. That's why we're meeting Achilles here, as if for the first time.   A starring role in the Iliad was said to be a source of unfading glory for Achilles. That led me to think about the characters in a work that's become less well known. What would Achilles himself think of this part of his military career?
 
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Chapter 3: "Ride, Amazons, Ride!" Meet Penthesileia and her riders.
 
Penthesileia Portrait
Focus Character Penthesileia
 
Setting Overland on the last leg of a hard journey from Scythia
 
Also Appearing Twelve Amazon companions
 
Author Notes
Quintus, in his version of the story, names Penthesileia's Amazon companions. Some are provided with epithets, but most are just names. Is that any way to treat an Amazon?
 
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Chapter 4: "Be Like Thersites" A grieving Achilles gets some advice from a friend.
 
Achilles and Thersites portrait
Focus Characters Achilles and Thersites
 
Setting The Tomb of Patroclus
 
Also Appearing Odysseus, Great Ajax, Podarces
 
Author Notes
This scene echoes one in the Iliad in which an embassy was sent from an increasingly desperate Agamemnon to entice Achilles back into the fight. It seems plausible that Achilles would still need some downtime to process his friend's death, and that Agamemnon would still be trying to keep him in the fold.
 
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Chapter 5: "Old King Priam atop the Wall" What, you thought this was Priam's first siege?
 
Priam Portrait
Focus Character Priam
 
Setting Atop the walls of Troy
 
Author Notes
When Priam was a young prince, Heracles and his associates broke down the walls and killed nearly everyone. Priam's lifetime project has been rebuilding the city as it once was, and now this. In The Iliad, when Priam sneaks out of Troy to confront a raging Achilles, it is arguably the bravest act of any character in that entire story.
 
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Chapter 6: "The Embassy at the Tomb" The Achaeans try to bring Achilles back to the battle. Again.
 
Achilles Portrait
Focus Character Achilles
 
Setting The Tomb of Patroclus
 
Also Appearing Odysseus, Great Ajax, Podarces, Thersites
 
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Chapter 7: "The City Burns!" Meet Cassandra. You'll never believe what she says next (due to a curse placed upon her by Apollo).
 
Priam and Cassandra.jpg
Focus Characters Priam and Cassandra
 
Setting Atop the walls of Troy
 
Author Notes
Cassandra was a daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. She was blessed with accurate visions of the future and cursed to have no one ever believe her. Quintus doesn't have Cassandra show up in his Posthomerica until close to the end, when the Achaeans leave a wooden horse on Ilion's doorstep. This is a shame because she's such a fun, useful, interesting, and versatile character.
 
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Chapter 8: "Home" The embassy concludes. Not even Ajax can break Achilles out of his funk. And if you can't beat them, you may as well join them.
 
Achilles Portrait
Focus Character Achilles
 
Setting The Tomb of Patroclus
 
Also Appearing Odysseus, Great Ajax, Podarces, Thersites
 
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Chapter 9: "Arrival" The Amazons enter the City of Ilion.
 
Penthesileia Portrait
Focus Character Penthesileia
 
Setting Outer courtyard of Ilion
 
Also Appearing Twelve Amazon companions
 
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Chapter 10: "At the King's Table" Penthesileia confers with King Priam and his Defense Council.
 
Penthesileia and Priam
Focus Characters Penthesileia and Priam
 
Setting King Priam's Banquet Hall
 
Also Appearing Deiphobus, Helenus, Aeneas
 
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Chapter 11: "Ink-Song" Evandre meets with the priests and elders of Troy.
 
Evandre Portrait
Focus Character Evandre
 
Setting King Priam's Banquet Hall
 
Also Appearing Laocoön and his two sons, Anchises, Ascanius, Antenor, Theano, and Thymoetes
 
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Chapter 12: "A Table of Allies" Hippothoe meets some of Troy's other allies.
 
Hippothoe Portrait
Focus Character Hippothoe
 
Setting King Priam's Banquet Hall
 
Also Appearing Itymoneus and Agelaus of Miletus, Nastes and Amphimachus of Caria, Cabierus of Thrace, and Dresaeus of Lydia
 
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Chapter 13: "The Judgment of Paris" Paris is judged by his sister-in-law.
 
Andromache Portrait
Focus Character Andromache
 
Setting King Priam's Banquet Hall
 
Also Appearing Paris, Helen, Hecuba, Derinoe, Astyanax
 
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Chapter 14: "A Dance of Conversation" Priam's banquet draws to an end, leading toward a vital negotiation with the Queen of the Amazons.
 
Penthesileia and Priam
Focus Character Penthesileia and Priam
 
Setting King Priam's Banquet Hall
 
Also Appearing Helenus, Andromache
 
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Chapter 15: "Who?" Andromache confronts Penthesileia. Sparks fly.
 
Penthesileia and Andromache
Focus Character Andromache and Penthesileia
 
Setting King Priam's Banquet Hall
 
Also Appearing Priam
Coming Sunday, Sept. 20th
 
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Chapter 16: "The War God" A diety arrives.
 
Ares portrait
Focus Character Ares
 
Setting A nighttime journey
 
Also Appearing Thersites, Aphrodite
Coming Sunday, Sept. 27th
 
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Chapter 17: "The Dream of Penthesileia" The Amazon Queen receives a vision of victory on the battlefield.
Trigger Warning This chapter includes depictions of physical violence.
 
Penthesileia and Ares
Focus Characters Penthesileia, Ares
 
Setting A Trojan War battlefield
 
Also Appearing The Amazon Companions and many dead Achaeans
 
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Chapter 18: "The Dream of Achilles" Achilles receives a vision of the present.
 
Achilles and Thetis Portrait
Focus Character Achilles, Thetis
 
Setting A nighttime journey
 
Also Appearing Deidamia, Neoptolemus
 
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Chapter 19: "Hold Back the Dawn" A disagreement among the gods.
 
Thetis and Eos.jpg
Focus Characters Thetis and Eos
 
Setting The Aethiopian Gate
 
 
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Chapter 20: "The Marvelous Gift" Children of a war god get all the best toys.
 
Penthesileia and Andromache
Focus Characters Penthesileia, Andromache
 
Setting Penthesileia's bedchamber
 
 
Verses Will Drop Every Sunday
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Series The Posthomerica
Book #1: The Penthesileiad
Mythology of Origin Greek/Roman
Setting Realm Mythoversal Troad
Status In Progress

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Comments

Author's Notes

Sage gfishbone

Greg R. Fishbone
       

 
  I'm having a lot of fun with my take on the Penthesileiad, and I hope you are enjoying it as well. The character portraits were done with an early beta of an app called Portrait Workshop. Let me know what you think!


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Forgemaster Dimitris
Dimitris Havlidis
8 Sep, 2020 05:54

This is an absolutely amazing collection of characters, also Portrait Workshop should be very proud of you/it

Sage gfishbone
Greg R. Fishbone
10 Sep, 2020 18:19

It's a great app so far. I'm looking forward to updates when more details and customization will be possible.

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