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Penthesilea (Kleist)

Penthesilea (1808) is a tragedy by the German playwright Heinrich von Kleist about the mythological Amazon queen, Penthesilea, described as an exploration of sexual frenzy.[1] Goethe rejected it as "unplayable".[2]


The drama opens on the battlefield before the gates of Troy, where the Greeks are besieging the city and are interrupted by belligerent Amazons who attack and endanger the Greek princes. The Greeks, distracted from capturing Troy as their leader Agamemnon has ordered, try to contact the Amazon queen Penthesilea to understand her motives.

In the second scene the Greeks learn that Penthesilea has captured their hero Achilles. The messenger provides a vivid account of the Amazons' surprise attack. They surrounded Achilles, who first freed himself and tried to flee until his horses and his cart collapsed. Penthesilea and her followers drew closer, but when the queen toppled and fell, he had another chance to flee, and escaped.

Penthesilea by Arturo Michelena

In the fourth scene the Greeks welcome Achilles and acclaim him for his escape. Meanwhile, the Amazons rashly celebrate their victory, whereupon Penthesilea gets furious. Her fury culminates in a quarrel with Prothoe, her most intimate confidante and soulmate. The reason is that Prothoe, as the queen later learns, has fallen in love with one of the Greek prisoners of war. At the end of the scene they settle their dispute, because Penthesilea cannot live without the devoted Prothoe.

Now, the Archpriestess gets onto the scene, with her maidens, who are plucking roses for their queen's first victory. Competing for the most and prettiest roses, the girls start to quarrel. Their dispute is interrupted by an Amazon in gear who announces that the Greek prisoners won't accept any hospitality.

The following scene shows an Amazon captain report to the Archpriestess about the fighting between Penthesilea and Achilles. Prothoe tries to convince her leader to return home, but the queen refuses to listen and insists on staying at the place.

This proves to be fatal, because the Greeks start their attack very soon after. Penthesilea refuses to flee, not even on the counseling of her closest confidants and the priestesses with Prothoe declaring to be willing to stay with her and meet their fate.

The central dynamic of the play lies in the mutual passion of Achilles and Penthesilea. Kleist reverses the narrative found in Homer: Achilles does not kill, but rather is killed – due to a characteristically Kleistian misunderstanding of his intentions – by the Amazonian queen. When Penthesilea recognizes her mistake, she causes her own death, through force of internal self-directed will.

  1. Banham (1998, 603).
  2. Lamport (1990, 161).
  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43437-8.
  • Helbling, Robert. 1975. The Major Works of Heinrich von Kleist. New York: New Directions. ISBN 0-8112-0564-9.
  • Lamport, Francis John. 1990. German Classical Drama: Theatre, Humanity and Nation, 1750–1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36270-9.
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Penthesilea (Kleist)


Penthesilea ( 1808 ) is a tragedy by the German playwright Heinrich von Kleist about the mythological Amazon queen, Penthesilea , described as an exploration of sexual frenzy. Goethe rejected it as "unplayable". Summary The drama opens on the battlefield before the gates of Troy , where the Greeks are besieging the city and are interrupted by belligerent Amazons who attack and endanger the Greek princes. The Greeks, distracted from capturing Troy as their leader Agamemnon has ordered, try to contact the Amazon queen Penthesilea to understand her motives. In the second scene the Greeks learn that Penthesilea has captured their hero Achilles . The messenger provides a vivid account of the Amazons' surprise attack. They surrounded Achilles, who first freed himself and tried to flee until his horses and his cart collapsed. Penthesilea and her followers drew closer, but when the queen toppled and fell, he had another chance to flee, and escaped. Penthesilea by Arturo Michelena In the fourth scene the Greeks welcom



Penthesilea (1862), by Gabriel-Vital Dubray (1813-1892). East façade of the Cour Carrée in the Louvre palace, Paris Penthesilea ( Greek : Πενθεσίλεια ) or Penthesileia was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology , the daughter of Ares and Otrera and the sister of Hippolyta , Antiope and Melanippe . Quintus Smyrnaeus explains more fully than pseudo-Apollodorus how Penthesilea came to be at Troy: Penthesilea had killed Hippolyta with a spear when they were hunting deer; this accident caused Penthesilea so much grief that she wished only to die, but, as a warrior and an Amazon, she had to do so honorably and in battle. She therefore was easily convinced to join in the Trojan War , fighting on the side of Troy 's defenders. Penthesilea in Quintus Smyrnaeus' Posthomerica Penthesilea arrives in Troy at the start of Posthomerica , the night before the fighting is due to recommence following Hector's death and funeral. She came to Troy to prove to others that her people, the Amazons, are great warriors and can share th

Heinrich von Kleist


Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist (18 October 1777 – 21 November 1811) was a German poet , dramatist , novelist , short story writer and journalist . The Kleist Prize , a prestigious prize for German literature, is named after him, as was the Kleist Theater in his birthplace. Life Kleist was born into the von Kleist family in Frankfurt an der Oder in the Margraviate of Brandenburg . After a scanty education, he entered the Prussian Army in 1792, served in the Rhine campaign of 1796, and retired from the service in 1799 with the rank of lieutenant. He studied law and philosophy at the Viadrina University and in 1800 received a subordinate post in the Ministry of Finance at Berlin. In the following year, Kleist's roving, restless spirit got the better of him, and procuring a lengthened leave of absence he visited Paris and then settled in Switzerland. There he found congenial friends in Heinrich Zschokke and Ludwig Wieland (1777–1819), son of the poet Christoph Martin Wieland ; and to them he read his first dra

Penthesilea (disambiguation)


Penthesilea was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology. Penthesilea may also refer to: 271 Penthesilea , a large main belt asteroid Penthesilea (Kleist) , a tragedy by Heinrich von Kleist Penthesilea (opera) , a one-act opera by Othmar Schoeck Penthesilea (moth) , a genus of moths Penthesilea Painter , a Greek vase painter Penthesilea was an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology. Penthesilea may also refer to: 271 Penthesilea , a large main belt asteroid Penthesilea (Kleist) , a tragedy by Heinrich von Kleist Penthesilea (opera) , a one-act opera by Othmar Schoeck Penthesilea (moth) , a genus of moths Penthesilea Painter , a Greek vase painter

Penthesilea (opera)


Penthesilea is a one-act opera by Othmar Schoeck , to a German-language libretto by the composer, after the work of the same name by Heinrich von Kleist . It was first performed at the Staatsoper in Dresden , Germany on 8 January 1927 . Schoeck used the contrast between C major and F ♯ major as a musical basis for his work. Robin Holloway has noted the similarity of theme to Richard Strauss ' Elektra , as well as Schoeck's use of two pianos in the instrumentation. Roles Role Voice type Premiere cast, 8 January 1927 ( Conductor : Hermann Ludwig Kutzschbach ) Penthesilea soprano Irma Tervani Meroe soprano Eugenie Burckhardt High Priestess mezzo-soprano Elfriede Haberkorn Prothoe soprano Maria Rösler-Keuschnigg Diomedes tenor Ludwig Eybisch Achilles bass Friedrich Plaschke Herald baritone Paul Schöffler Synopsis The story is about the tragic love of Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons , and Achilles. Achilles has defeated the Amazon queen Penthesilea in battle. However, he falls in love with her. After Penthesile



Phöbus — Ein Journal für die Kunst was a literary journal published by Heinrich von Kleist and Adam Heinrich Müller in Dresden between January 1808 and December 1808, in twelve issues grouped into nine instalments. Many of Kleist's most famous works appeared in print for the first time within its covers. Original plans The journal's name is that of the sun-god Phoebus , generally associated with the Greek Apollo . The frontispiece of the first issue, designed by Ferdinand Hartmann , shows Phoebus in a chariot, drawn by sun-horses over the town of Dresden. Kleist wrote: "Thunder on, O thou, with thy flaming steeds, / Phoebus, bringer of day, into infinite space!" The periodical was modelled on Friedrich Schiller 's journal Die Horen. The original plan of including the work of Schiller and Goethe came unravelled early on, especially when Goethe distanced himself from the project. Müller and Kleist having neither well-developed plans nor good contacts with book-sellers, the journal quickly failed and lost them m

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Maurice Bernard Sendak ( ; June 10, 1928 – May 8, 2012) was an American illustrator and writer of children's books . He became widely known for his book Where the Wild Things Are , first published in 1963. Born to Jewish-Polish parents, his childhood was affected by the death of many of his family members during the Holocaust . Sendak also wrote works such as In the Night Kitchen , Outside Over There , and illustrated many works by other authors including the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik . Life and career Early life Sendak was born in New York City in the borough of Brooklyn to Polish Jewish immigrant parents named Sadie (née Schindler) and Philip Sendak , a dressmaker. Sendak described his childhood as a "terrible situation" due to the death of members of his extended family during the Holocaust which exposed him at a young age to the concept of mortality. His love of books began when, as a child, he developed health problems and was confined to his bed. He decided to become an illustrat

Christiaan Tonnis


Female Warrior #6 "Behind the Line", Pencil on board, 1982 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Pencil on board, 1985 The Bible - Solomon - Song of Songs 8, 6-7, Acrylic, rich pale gold and cloth on linen, 1997 God gave us another Gift # 9 - Blue Flower - Novalis ", Photography, 2013 Kunstverein Familie Montez in June 2016, Video Still Image, 2016 Christiaan Dirk Tonnis (born June 5, 1956, Saarbrücken , Germany) is a German symbolist / realist painter , draftsman , video artist and published author. He studied at the HfG Offenbach with Dieter Lincke and Herbert Heckmann ( de ), and lives in Frankfurt , Germany. Work Tonnis’ works are "supported with psychological knowledge" His earliest drawings reflect his interest in psychoanalysis and psychopathology such as, catatonic rigidity or the postnatal psychosis depicted in his 1980–85 collection. To "show the psychic as a second face" he "uses stitchings, masks and fragments of masks—they are sometimes barely visible" ... in his portraits the artist Christiaan Tonnis shows us t

Pascal Dusapin


Pascal Dusapin (born 29 May 1955) is a contemporary French composer born in Nancy , France. His music is marked by its microtonality, tension, and energy. A pupil of Iannis Xenakis and Franco Donatoni and an admirer of Varèse , Dusapin studied at the University of Paris I and Paris VIII during the 1970s. His music is full of "romantic constraint", and he rejects the use of electronics, percussion other than timpani, and, up until the late 1990s, piano. His melodies have a vocal quality, even in purely instrumental works. Dusapin has composed solo, chamber, orchestral, vocal, and choral works, as well as several operas, and has been honored with numerous prizes and awards. Education and influences Composer mentors Dusapin studied musicology, plastic arts, and art sciences at the University of Paris I and Paris VIII in the early 1970s. He felt a certain "shock" upon hearing Edgar Varèse ’s Arcana (1927), and a similar shock when he attended Iannis Xenakis ’s multimedia performance Polytope de Cluny in 1972,

Illness or Modern Women


Illness or Modern Women ( German : Krankheit oder Moderne Frauen. Wie ein Stück. ) is a play by the Austrian playwright Elfriede Jelinek . It was published in 1984 in the avant-garde journal manuscripte of Graz and premiered on the stage of the Schauspielhaus Bonn on February 12, 1987, directed by Hans Hollmann. The play was published in book form by Prometh Verlag in 1987 with an afterword by Regine Friedrich. The title "parodically conflates women with illness." The play is based on an earlier, shorter radio play by Jelinek called Erziehung eines Vampirs (Bringing Up a Vampire), which appeared in 1986 on Süddeutscher Rundfunk . Characters Emily, nurse and vampire Carmilla, housewife, mother, and vampire Dr. Heidkliff, dentist, gynecologist , and Emily's fiancé Dr. Benno Hundekoffer, tax consultant and Carmilla's husband A saint A female martyr Also Five people (of various sizes) on roller skates A talking baby doll with a pretty voice on cassette Two well-trained hunting dogs A pair of ladies in beautiful

Jean Gillibert


Jean Gillibert (1925 – 31 October 2014) was a French psychiatrist , psychoanalyst , poet, translator, playwright and theatre director. Short biography Gillibert graduated from the Paris conservatory in 1945. In 1947, he attended a lecture by Antonin Artaud at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris, which had a decisive influence on his career, under the sign of the exploration of madness and theater. A part of his career was devoted to psychoanalysis. Gillibert died on 31 October 2014 in his home in Bourg-la-Reine . Filmography 1962: The Trial of Joan of Arc by Robert Bresson 1963: La Meule by René Allio 1983: Le Général a disparu by Yves-André Hubert 1985: Le Monde désert by Pierre Beuchot Theatre Actor 1950: Adam exilé written and directed by Johan de Meester, Théâtre Hébertot 1950: Lucifer written and directed by Johan de Meester, Théâtre Hébertot 1959: Tête d'or written by Paul Claudel , directed by Jean-Louis Barrault , Odéon-Théâtre de France 1962: The Idiot written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky , directed by

Silvia Monfort


Silvia Monfort (born Simone Marguerite Favre-Bertin ; 6 June 1923, Paris–30 March 1991, Paris) was a French actress and theatre director. She was the daughter of the sculptor Charles Favre-Bertin and wife of Pierre Gruneberg . She was named Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1973, Officer of Arts and Letters in 1979 and then Commander of Arts and Letters in 1983. She is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery . Early life Monfort was born in the neighborhood of Le Marais , on Rue Elzévir , a short distance away from Rue de Thorigny , where she would set up her first theatre much later. Her family had lived in this Parisian neighborhood for seven generations. She lost her mother very early and her father put her in a boarding school. She undertook her secondary studies first at lycée Victor Hugo and then at lycée Victor Duruy . She obtained her baccalauréat at 14 with special permission. Her father had intended for her career to be spent at the Gobelin manufactory but she preferred the theatre and took classes with Jea

Javor Gardev


Javor Gardev ( Bulgarian : Явор Гърдев ) is a Bulgarian stage and film director. He was born on February 23, 1972 in Sofia , Bulgaria. Bio Javor Gardev holds an MA degree in Philosophy from Sofia University, and in Theatre Directing from the Bulgarian National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. He has staged thirty-three performances in his home country and abroad. This includes Williams Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “King Lear”, Edward Albee’s “The Goat or Who is Sylvia?” and “The Play about the Baby” (Officially endorsed by Edward Albee), Martin McDonagh’s “A Behanding in Spokane” and “The Pillowman”, Tracy Letts’ “Killer Joe”, Ethan Coen’s “Almost an Evening”, among others. Gardev has directed radio-drama and authored performance art and video art works. His long feature debut film Zift (2008) won nineteen domestic and international awards and special mentions. Javor Gardev won “Silver St. George” for Best Director in Main Competition at the 30th Moscow IFF. “Zift” was part of the selections of fifty four diff

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