TALK: Rafael Semedo: ‘Live fast, die young: Penthesileia’s aresteia in Quintus’ Posthomerica 1

The Novel Echoes group is happy to invite you to listen to Rafael Semedo, who will give a paper on Quintus of Smyrna’s Posthomerica on Monday 25th of March, 4pm in Camelot.

Title: Live Fast, Die Young: Penthesilea’s Aristeia in Quintus’ Posthomerica 1

 Abstract: Each of the 14 Books of Quintus’ Posthomerica is centered around a single character or event – it is therefore often referred to as an episodic epic. Book 1 revolves around the figure of Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons, who, along with her female warriors, arrives at Priam’s citadel to boost spirits of the Trojans and encourage them back into the fight. The Quintean narrator accentuates her protagonism using an important traditional epic device, the aristeia, which is comprised of a series of type-scenes, including her arming, departure for battle, and killing frenzy on the battlefield. The outcome is her own death at the hands of Achilles. In this paper, we explore the strategies of the Quintean narrator to provide this female warrior with a solid characterization, which, in turn, also contributes to the overall portrayal of Achilles, the central figure of Books 1-5 as a whole. I argue that Penthesilea serves as a character doublet of Achilles, a miniature version of the Iliadic warrior, and her death at his hands actually foreshadows his own demise by the arrows of Apollo in Book 3.

Rafael de A. Semêdo, São Paulo Research Foundation, University of São Paulo; Visiting Ph.D. Scholar, University of Amsterdam