Briseis | Daughter of Briseus

Briseis Greek Mythology

Briseis (Classical Greek: Βρισηίς), also known as Briseide or Briseida, was, in Greek mythology, a Trojan woman, a widow, from the city of Lirnesso. She was kidnapped during the Trojan War by Achilles, after the latter killed her three brothers and her husband, King Mines.

After an oracle forced the leader of the Greeks, Agamemnon, to abandon Crisis, a woman he had captured, the king ordered his heralds Talthibius and Euribate to seek Briseis from him as compensation. Achilles was offended by this dispossession, and withdrew from the fight. Despite Agamemnon's grand promises of treasure and women, he did not return to battle until the death of Patroclus.

Achilles' retreat to his tent is the first event in Homer's Iliad. With Achilles removed from the conflict, the Trojans experienced a period of success. After he returned to the fight, Agamemnon restored Briseis to him.

Briseis' real name was Hippodamia; Briseis is actually a patronymic, and means, "daughter of Briseus."

In the Iliad, Briseis is a slave of Achilles, given to him by the Greek army as a prize. He also loves her, likening their relationship to that of husband and wife (he often refers to her as his bride and wife):

Are Atreus, among mortals, the only ones who love their wives? I don't think so. Any sane and decent fellow loves his own and cares for her, as in my heart I loved Briseis, though I conquered her by the spear.

Achilles becomes deeply angry with Agamemnon, furious at the idea that he has lain with her. When the dispute is settled, and Achilles returns to the fight, Agamemnon swears to Achilles that he and Briseis never shared a bed.

In medieval romances, Briseis becomes Briseida, and is the daughter of Calcas. She was later confused with Criseis, and it is under different variations of this name that the character eventually develops into William Shakespeare's Créssida.

Briseide is always praised for her beauty and is described as "rosy-cheeked" by Homer.