Who is Chryseis? How does a conflict start concerning her?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Chryseis was daughter to Chryses, himself a priest to Apollo. When Iliad opens, Chryses goes before the Greeks, in the interest of ransoming his daughter, who had been taken as a captive by Agamemnon, but Agamemnon refuses to release her. In so doing, Agamemnon invites the wrath of Apollo, outraged by this slight against his priest.

Beset by plague, the Greeks confer with Calchas, a prophet. Recognizing that his message would anger Agamemnon, he gets an oath from Achilles to defend him, and then proceeds to tell them the cause of Apollo's anger, revealing that the only recourse which the god might accept is to release Chryseis without any ransom at all. This message does outrage Agamemnon, striking at his pride (he resists giving up any part of his spoils) and in the process, he is brought into dispute with Achilles. This dispute will escalate when Agamemnon determines that, if he must return Chryseis, then he will recompense himself by taking Achilles's own war captive, Briseis. Thus Achilles and Agamemnon are in enmity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Chryseis is the daughter of a priest of Apollo who is taken as a concubine by Agamemnon when the Greek army conquered the city of Thebe. Her father, Chryses, goes to Troy to beg Agamemnon for his daughter's release, bringing with him a large ransom for her release. Agamemnon refuses to release Chryseis and sends her father home without her. Chryses prays to Apollo for help in getting his daughter back, and Apollo sends a plague down upon the Greek army, causing many of their men to die. The leaders of the Greek armies eventually go to Agamemnon, with Achilles as their spokesman. Achilles tells Agamemnon he will receive more than his share of the spoils of the Trojan War after the Greeks defeat them if Agamemnon allows Chryseis to go home. Agamemnon angrily agrees, but instead of waiting until after they defeat the Trojans, he takes the concubine of Achilles, causing Achilles to pull out of the war.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial