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3.5 Flame-haired goddess Andromache

For the story the most influential character is without any doubts Andromache. Out of five characters presented in this thesis she is the only one that has her name unchanged and can be found in works of ancient authors in exactly the same way. The name is composed of two Greek words, Andros (of a man) and Machē (battle), and was given to her by her father Ektios, king of Thebe under Plakos, when he states that ‘She has the strength of a man’. The translation is very fitting because in her eyes she is equal to anyone else when it comes to rights and how she should be received and Andromache never kneeled just because someone is a male which is also differentiate her from her mythological version since in Iliad Andromache (Homer, Iliad, bk. 6, 369) was a mere spectator and her main role was to be a perfect wife and mother to heir of Troy. Because Andromache is in both books as one of the most frequent characters she has the most backstory material and has some kind of interaction with almost every other character. To associate her with just a one title would be almost impossible since she plays such a huge role in the story.

As a result daughter, princess, sister, friend, mother, goddess, priestess, wife, lover, imminent and many more would be fitting titles for her and yet none of them would define her completely as was already mentioned. Andromache as a character constantly evolves and adapts whenever the situation requires her to. Unlike Kalliope she indirectly forced her father to send her on Thera, when she continued to refuse all of her suitors who intended to wed her and insulted a fair share of them in the process. Despite the fact that she was deeply loved by her father, having her as an unwed princess proved to be unprosperous and in some sense even dangerous since other royal families wanted to have their families connected by the wedding for assurance of a political or economic alliance and insulting of their family members could had caused unwanted hostility. Because temple on Thera used as priestesses only girls of royal blood and offered financial compensation to families in exchange for them her father decided to go this way, even though she had three younger sisters. Sending her on Thera made her unobtainable, secured that she will not insult anyone important and her family received two talents of silver. Shortly after these events her sister Paleste was picked by Hekabe as a future wife to her son Hector but as was said in a chapter about Hekabe she got her killed as soon as she realised the prophecy spoke about her older sister and then arranged that Andromache will take her place. When Andromache learned that she is supposed to leave Thera after two years there her first reaction was to verbally attack the high priestess for acting in a way only a man was supposed to act and betraying what she was supposed to represent – a strong woman who is supposed to be independent on kings and their games. Knowing that her potential disobedience would have cost her family a lot she gave up her personal happiness to serve her family. These events are however in books only mentioned in retrospective in several parts and her story starts shortly after her goodbyes to Kalliope on Lykia, where she was supposed to wait for a ship that would take her around the continent to Troy. This part is actually in contradiction with how the character appears in the rest of the first book because Lykia was already on the continent and the woman that is described later would insist on traveling immediately and not to waste time waiting for ten days on one spot, doing absolutely nothing. She had also started a homoerotic affair in the palace with her personal servants, Alesia, out of the pure boredom which shows that she was able to divert emotions from body pleasures and unlike other female characters sex for her was not just to procreate which is out of Thera very unusual for females. Beautiful, young, Andromache with red hair is never in both books described as someone patient. Only location Andromache was supposed to be in was the palace for safety reasons since it was impossible for the king to guarantee her safety out of it. This command was however ordered by a man and as such she did not feel need to respect it which just confirmed how stubborn she was. From the logical standpoint she acted recklessly and dangerously and let her pride take over but when it comes to the story it played a vital part since it led her to meet Odysseus and Helikaon who just arrived there and started their mutual friendship. Next day she boarded the ship of Odysseus where she met young helper Xander who was surprised that someone of her stance is speaking with him and acting as if they were equal. Later when he falls ill Andromache tries her best to take care of him and when he is in hospital she is one of his regular visitors. As could have been seen in previous chapters, events that took place in Troy were mostly connected with other characters and as such were mentioned in other chapters. There is however a few events that tell a lot about her character and yet were not mentioned previously. The first meeting with Priam is one of them. King Priam had a habit to show his superiority by humiliating other characters because of that he decided to meet his son’s imminent on the highest tower in Troy. When Andromache arrives the king is standing on battlements of the tower and asks Andromache to join him and she accepts even though one wobble could mean death. The reason of this action is that she understands that equality with man doesn’t mean only benefits but also disadvantages in the world she lives in. After she passes Priam’s test of the bravery and refuses to kneel before him he proceeds to weigh her breast just to state that: ‘You will breed strong children for me.’ Any other woman, except Hekabe, would react in submission but Andromache answers in cold, hard voice, even though it means to risk king’s anger. Their next meeting takes place after Priam learns that Andromache disrespected traditions of his city and attended archery practice with his soldiers. Trying to humiliate her one more time, he organize a tournament where Andromache is supposed to prove her skills on practice dummies and later on inmates who were to be executed. In this part Andromache turns metaphorically into the stone because she had never killed anybody but as soon as one of those prisoners make attempt on the king’s life she reacts by shooting him directly in the heart. Her attitude towards men is in the city of Troy presented only when it would affect her. When she indirectly causes her servant Axa to be banished from the palace she kneels for hours in front of Priam just to get audition with him and plead for her. In their conversation Priam also asks: ‘Had I told you that the only way to rescue Axa was to have you come to my bed, would you have done so?’ on which Andromache simply states that she would have with no hesitation. (Lord of the Silver Bow, 427). After these events the story continues with Laodike’s death and return of Hector from the battle of Kadesh, Andromache says goodbye to Helikaon just to have him returned to her at the start of the second book where he is gravely injured. Visiting him every day she learns that healer said that woman’s touch could help him to heal. Instead of sending for Aphrodite’s priestess Andromache decides that she will be the one, ignoring that she is to be wed to Hector in a few weeks. After one night with unconscious Helikaon, Andromache becomes pregnant. Situation gets even worse when she learns that Hector is unable to have his own children due to an injury he received in a war. Because she wants to protect her lover she decides to trick Priam to sleep with her and later tells him that the child is his. With Hector, Andromache acted frankly and told him the way things are but on the other way she lied to her father-in-law, which shows that even though she never admitted it she tried to act towards people like they acted towards her. As a part of retaliation of her sister she even lets Hekabe know that the child from prophecy she is supposed to give birth to will not be from her husband or son just before killing her. Only thing following these events in the second book is the attempt on her life by Mykene warriors which was described in chapter about Kalliope.

Andromache has both positive and negative sides of her personality. She is able to be kind, helpful, and emphatic and in a second she is deceiving, manipulating and even killing the same people she claimed to like. She is willing to do anything to protect her friends and is the only character that is able to admit her mistakes and is willing to do anything to fix them while adapting to the society she lives in. The same contrast as in her personality is in her reception from other characters. Andromache simply does not leave space for middle road; everyone either loves her or hates her which makes her very well done character with elaborated backstory and important influence on almost any event happening in both books.


After more than three thousand years Trojan War is still remembered as a battle of man and the names of woman are mostly known only to those who are interested in the topic on deeper level. While the names such as Achilles, Hector and Paris are known even to little children their sisters, mother and wives are playing only filler roles in the story. The aim of this thesis was to critically look at one of the latest literally versions of this story and on the most prominent characters in it and decide if they actually played an important role this time or were there just to observe what is happening around them.

The first part looked at the work as on historical fantasy fiction because characters would be perceived differently if they would be taken from the perspective of different period of time. Woman was respected, tolerated but yet by the majority not taken as equal to a man and had only two opinions how to deal with it. The first one was to acquiesce to the society, accept that they were considered to be the weaker gender and act according to it. But the strong characters did not pick that one and instead of it choose to fight. Fight for their right to be heard and to show that they are not only equal to man but in many cases they are stronger than them. As was shown in the chapter about cities characters came often from different cultural backgrounds and some of them were unwilling to change their attitude even though they saw with their own eyes strength that had no equal. The part about the author showed that the story had typical elements from his work and many parts were influenced by it. If there would not been for themes of love and redemption the character of Laodike would most likely survive and authors willingness to kill his own characters made everyone mortal with insecure destiny.

Second part looked deeply at female characters presented in the book. This part showed that even though the main part of the story was from the eyes of nobility or skilled warriors even those below them were not left behind. Prostitutes, servants or priestesses played an important role in the story and the world would not work without them as it did because everyone had some role in the society. However the most elaborated characters were not those who dwelt in mud but rather those wearing silk. Five women who were connected only by their gender, each one had her typical personal strengths and weaknesses and the fate prepared something different for each one of them. Those women showed that they are not only part of the story but they are essential for it and without them things would have happened differently.

In conclusion woman was shown as an important part of the story and in most cases as an active participant of it. All of them were presented as individuals with their specific traits, skills, temperament and set of attribute.

5.List of references

"Mortal Women of the Trojan War." Mortal Women of the Trojan War. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Atsma, Aaron. "BOOK 1 OF THE ILIAD, TRANSLATED BY A. T. MURRAY." Classical E-Text: HOMER, ILIAD 1. N.p., 2000-2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Atsma, Aaron. "LOVE ROMANCES, TRANSLATED BY S. GASELEE." Classical E-Text: PARTHENIUS OF NICAEA, LOVE STORIES 1. N.p., 2000-2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Atsma, Aaron. "TROADES, TRANSLATED BY FRANK JUSTUS MILLER." Classical E-Text: SENECA, TROADES. N.p., 2000-2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1995. Print.
Cartwright, Mark. "Trojan War." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., 15 May 2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Gemmell, David, and Stella Gemmell. Fall of Kings. London: Corgi, 2008. Print.
Gemmell, David. Lord of the Silver Bow. London: Corgi, 2006. Print.
Gemmell, David. Shield of Thunder. London: Corgi, 2007. Print.
Homer. The Iliad. Ware: Wordsworth Classics, 1995. Print.
In Search of the Trojan War. Perf. Michael Wood. BBC, 1985. 15 Dec. 2014. Web.
Mastin, Luke. "Troades (The Trojan Women) - Seneca the Younger - Ancient Rome - Classical Literature." Troades (The Trojan Women) - Seneca the Younger - Ancient Rome - Classical Literature. N.p., 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Mireaux, Emile. Daily Life in the Time of Homer. New York: Macmillan, 1959. Print.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Nicholls, Stan. "David Andrew Gemmell." - The David Gemmell Legend Awards. N.p., 2007. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Nicholls, Stan. "Stan Nicholls Interview." Books., 19 May 2007. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.
Vernant, Jean-Pierre, and Linda Asher. The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths. New York: Perennial, 2002. Print.

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