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  • Author or Editor: Linda Molli x
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Abstract

This paper aims at analysing the character of Briseis, Achilles’ slave in the Iliad, through the lenses of narratology, in order to highlight her importance in the poem. Far from being a pale shadow, Briseis has a privileged position among captive women in the Greek camp not only because she is the cause of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, but also because she is endowed with the privilege of direct speech; at the same time, she is also linked to important women on the Trojan side, like Helen and Andromache. Through scattered bits of information about her past, through epithets and periphrases, Homer creates an in fieri portrait of the character which culminates in the lament Briseis performs on the corpse of Patroclus in Il. XIX 282–302: in remarkable lines containing her first and unique speech in the Iliad, Briseis mourns for the death of her beloved friend, while lamenting her unlucky fate. As this paper will hopefully make clear, a refined and accurate characterization provides Briseis with a rich profile, which challenges the possibility of labelling her as a minor Iliadic character.

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