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3.3 Unloved daughter Laodike

One of the characters that were changed to the point that they are not recognisable from their original is Laodike, one of the less known daughters of king Priam and queen Hekabe. Only role of Laodike in Iliad was to be present in Troy together with her family. As ‘the comeliest of the daughters of Priam’ (Homer, Iliad, bk. 13, 369) Laodike was mentioned to be wed to lord Helikaon, but did not play any role what so ever in the actual story. Her role is similar even in other works from ancient Greece, for example in Parthenius’ work (Parthenius, Love Stories, "The Story of Laodice") her only role is to bear child to Acamas, son of Greek hero Theseus. Unlike mythological Laodike Gemmell’s version did not inherit strength of her father or beauty and wits of her mother. Plain and rather simple, Laodike is one of the weakest characters in the whole story.

As was mentioned in the previous paragraph, the oldest legitimate daughter of king Priam is nothing like her parents. Scorned by her mother because of the lack of a strong mind, which was proved to her in earlier years when Laodike was the only one of her mother’s children unable to remember names of other countries and even when she did, she had the cities mixed up, and ignored by her father, who despite all of his children expects Hector, who is according to him the greatest warrior who has ever lived, and Kreusa, who is not only extremely beautiful but also understands the art of enriching the royal treasury, Laodike is raised without any love or sympathy by her family and she is destined to live in a shadow of her more successful siblings. Although Laodike tries her best to get at least bit recognition by her parents she never actually succeeds. When Andromache arrives in the city for the first time it is Laodike who is assigned to her as a guide to teach her how Troy works, who is important and how to act. At the age of twenty four Laodike is by far the oldest female character that is not only single, but also without any previous experience with males. Unlike other characters Laodike also has an extremely low self-esteem because she never even had any suitor and her look is described as not exactly attractive. Being raised in a materialistic society, where the only thing that matters is riches, taught her to believe that the only way how to attract some attention she so desperately desires is to show the riches of her family to the whole world. Because of that she is always festooned with gold and precious stones. The effect is however completely opposite that what she was trying to do and according to Andromache, who is most likely the only friend she ever had, her gold bracelets, bangles, necklets and golden wires in her hair only attracts attention to her corn-coloured hair, receiving chin and the long nose. Because Laodike was raised to believe that Troy stands above other cultures she is also quite haughty and when it comes to other cultures she has hardly any respect for them. In her own words different clothing and fashion than is used in Troy shows ’how stupid and primitive are the peoples of other nations’ (Gemmell, Lord of the Silver Bow, 335). It is unbelievable that with how she was raised and how narrow is her view on the rest of the world she is still told to be always smiling and of sweet and lovable nature. When reader meets her for the first time her only wish is to have a wedding arranged by her father with her cousin Helikaon but she soon realises that he loves her only friend. She starts to be jealous of her beauty and the fact that she is loved by a man she desired and although she doesn’t confront her directly she slightly shifts into colder attitude towards her. However the character completely changes when she meets convalescent legendary Mykene warrior Argurios, who was in previous events severally injured by assassins from his own nation because he valued honour over loyalty to his nation and helped Helikaon in fight versus other Mykene warriors. Because Andromache is at the time in love with Helikaon, she wants to repay Argurios by helping him to regain strength and together with Laodike visits him in a hospital to offer him help. Laodike, being xenophobic doesn’t even give him a chance to say anything more that the question ‘why are you here?’ and right into his face states that they should go, because in her opinion all Mykene are ‘Bred without manners’ (Gemmell, Lord of the Silver Bow, 394). From Argurios point of view his lack of courtesy is caused by the fact that he lived his entire life almost exclusively on the battlefield among other warriors and his contact with women was limited to the camp followers but Laodike has no such excuse because as a Trojan princes she was educated in both diplomacy and courtesy and met her fair share of diplomats and people of nationalities. Argurios, realising his directness could be taken as discourtesy, immediately apologises and states that he has always been nervous in front of beautiful women. From that point onwards, Laodike changes from a shy and submissive girl who is only living to get an approval of her parents to one that is able to stand for her and knows what she actually wants from her life and goes for it despite what it could cost her. Only thing it took was one compliment she never got before and she immediately fell in love with someone, who was just an uncivilized brute a page before and shortly after that gives him her virginity. Her father and his laws are very strict when it comes to relationships of his daughters and who can be their husband, because every husband is an assurance of a potential new alliance and if he were to find out about his daughter’s secret romance, her lover would be in the best case banished from Troy but most likely executed. Later Argurios agrees that he will ask her father to marry her in exchange of his services, but it never happens because both of them are killed when the palace is attacked by the Thracian mercenaries and Mykene renegades who want to slaughter the royal family as a part of plan of Agamemnon and prince Agathon, illegitimate son of Priam who is willing to do anything, including slaughtering his father together with hundreds of other people, to usurp the throne and become a king.

All of the events mentioned above are happening in the second part of the first book which means they are in a period of relative peace when Mykene and Troy maintain a fragile peace. The fact that she decided to keep everything a secret, even before Andromache and her family members, means she is aware of the fact that it might cause a lot of trouble. There are two stances reader can take towards her actions. The first one being compassion – a girl who is ignored by her family members while they are acting like she is not worthy of them, feeling abandoned by the society and then truly accepted for the first time in her life by someone who shows her what she had dreamt of her whole life. It makes it easy to understand why she changed so much at the spot and why she would do anything that is in her power to preserve it. The second one is more critical – would she truly throw away everything she was trying to accomplish for past twenty four years for a single guy she just met and who she despised shortly before that? She knew him for a few days and yet she is willing to risk both of their lives for a day of passion even though waiting until a next morning would mean a possible legitimization of her relationship and a marriage to him. After her death her mother never mentions her again but her father builds her a white tomb where she is laid to rest alongside with the only man she had ever loved. Andromache feels survivor guilt and asks herself over and over again if she could have done anything to save her, showing more love towards her dead friend than anyone else even though she knew her only for a few days.

As a character she is much weaker than the rest of female protagonists presented in this bachelor thesis. When it comes down to her psychical development she changes on the spot without indicating it before or looking at her past self after. Decision between a round and a flat character is because of that rather complicated and the most accurate would be to mark her as a mixture of two flat characters separated by her first encounter with Argurios. Contribution to the main story is non-existent but she has her own romantic side story which takes place simultaneously with it.

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