Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens
About the Exhibition Online Exhibition Timeline Catalog Essays Teacher Resources Credits



History and Politics: Glory to the Hero
View other works in this theme:


Purchase the catalog
Peter Paul Rubens
Briseis Returned to Achilles, 1630-31
Oil on panel, 45.4 x 67.6 cm (without the added strips)
The Detroit Institute of Art, Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb, acc. no. 53.356


Catalog Entry by Peter C. Sutton

In Homer's Iliad, the Greek campaign to subdue Troy and avenge the abduction of Helen was jeopardized when Achilles angrily withdrew from the field and retired to his tent. Achilles' wrath was provoked by Helen's husband, Agamemnon, the leader of the campaign, who took away his favorite slave, Briseis; the latter had been consigned to Achilles when the town of Lyrnessus was conquered by the Greeks and her husband killed. Achilles only agreed to resume fighting to avenge the death of his best friend, Patroclus, who had been killed by Hector, the most valiant of the Trojans. To placate Achilles, Agamemnon returned Briseis to him along with gifts of seven tripods, ten bars of gold, twenty cauldrons, twelve stallions, and seven women (Iliad 9.148-56). At Ulysses' suggestion, Agamemnon further solemnly swore to several deities that he had not slept with Briseis...


Read entire entry
Where is this on the timeline?
Return to Online Exhibition




  Bruce Museum of Arts and Science :: 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, Connecticut :: 203.869.0376
  UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive :: 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, California :: 510.642.0808
  Cincinnati Art Museum :: 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio :: 513.721.ARTS

  Questions or comments about this site? :: Copyright Information