Gabrielle (Xena)

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Gabrielle is a fictional character in Xena: Warrior Princess, played by Renée O'Connor. She is referred to, by fans, as the Battling Bard of Potidaea. Her trademark weapons are the Amazon fighting staff and the sai.

Renée O'Connor was chosen to play the role after she impressed producers with her role in the Hercules television movie The Lost Kingdom.[1]

Her name is the feminine of Gabriel, from the Hebrew, which means "messenger of God". That is the name of the chief of Archangels, and during the show, Gabrielle becomes an Archangel. While Gabrielle is typically a French given name, it has a grammatically correct Greek feminine ending and contains no anti-Greek sounds (pronounced as Gab-ree-el-lay).[2] Also, the Greek version of "Gabrielle" is Γαβριήλα, (Gavrila).

In the two musical episodes,[3][4] Gabrielle's singing voice was provided by Susan Wood.[5]

Introduction[change | edit source]

Gabrielle joins Xena in the first episode as her traveling partner and sidekick, and remains with her until the end of the show. It is this partnership which forms the premise of the show.

When they meet, Gabrielle is a young, innocent, and idealistic scholar. She studies maps and the stars, reads mythology, writes stories, and dreams of traveling beyond her village to see the world. She wants to be a traveling bard. She also has strong ethical beliefs. She believes in the essential goodness of every person and is willing to put her life on the line for that.

In stark contrast, Xena is cynical, hard, and world-weary. Xena has killed thousands of people and, overcome with guilt, is returning home, perhaps to give up her own life. But on seeing Gabrielle's willingness to sacrifice herself for others, she is inspired to spend the rest of her life redeeming herself, and this becomes the driving theme throughout the show. Together they embark on an arduous, spirited adventure lasting over 30 years. Gabrielle acts as Xena's guiding light, keeping her dark memories at bay and reminding her of the goodness that she had once possessed. In return, Xena provides Gabrielle with travel and great adventures, teaches her about survival and the fighting arts, and acts as her protector, both physically and spiritually.

Gabrielle's story is one of growing up. Life with Xena is extreme in many ways, and traveling together often proves more dangerous than she had initially bargained for. Their friendship grows quickly, and they both overcome doubts, grief, loss of hope, and even death. As a burgeoning warrior, Gabrielle becomes more useful to Xena in combat and is increasingly treated as an equal. Eventually they learn that their destiny is woven together, in this and all future lives.

By the end of the series, when Xena dies and in the process finally redeems herself, Gabrielle has been transformed into a tough and courageous leader, a woman of the world, and a great warrior in her own right.

Character History[change | edit source]

Gabrielle - from farm girl to warrior[change | edit source]

When Gabrielle first meets the Warrior Princess, Xena, she is a farm girl living in the village of Potidaea. She and her sister Lila, along with several other village girls, have been kidnapped by the men of the warlord, Draco, to be sold as slaves. Xena intervenes and rescues them. Awed by her fighting skills, Gabrielle decides that she wants to become a warrior too. She also wants to avoid the marriage that her parents, Herodotus and Hecuba, have arranged for her with her childhood friend Perdicas. Gabrielle insists on following an initially reluctant Xena on the road.[6] The two women soon develop a strong bond of love and friendship. Over the six years of the series, Gabrielle evolves from a naive, idealistic teenager into a fully fledged, but deeply conflicted warrior fighting alongside Xena.

Gabrielle becomes an Amazon when she defends a dying Amazon Princess during an ambush. Before she dies, the Princess Terreis passes her "right of caste" to Gabrielle, and Gabrielle inherits her rank and possessions. This leaves Gabrielle the heiress presumptive to the Amazon Queen, Melosa.[7] Melosa's adopted daughter Velasca, becomes a rival for the position of Queen of the Amazons after Melosa's death, but Velasca's schemes (which include aspirations to godhood) are foiled by Xena and Gabrielle.[8] As Gabrielle wishes to travel with Xena rather than rule the Amazons, she appoints her friend Ephiny to act as Amazon Queen in her place.[7]

Gabrielle learns how to fight with a fighting staff from the Amazons.[7] With Xena's encouragement, she develops a philosophy of fighting for the Greater Good without killing.

About a year after meeting Xena, Gabrielle encounters Perdicas again and decides to marry him. The morning after their wedding, he is murdered by Xena's nemesis, Callisto. Gabrielle's grief and anger tests her ideals of reverence for life, but she nonetheless resists the impulse to kill Callisto.[9] During this period, Gabrielle's strong commitment to peacemaking and compassion often serves as a counterbalance to Xena's warrior nature.

When helping to defend Britannia against Caesar, Gabrielle comes into contact with an evil cult that tricks her into killing one of its priestesses, Meridian. The loss of Gabrielle's "blood innocence" enables the evil god Dahak to impregnate her.[10] After a pregnancy that lasts only a few days, Gabrielle gives birth to a girl she names Hope. After becoming convinced that the baby is simply a vessel for Dahak, Xena wants to kill Hope. Gabrielle manages to save her daughter by putting her in a basket and sending her downriver.[11]

Several months later, Gabrielle finds Hope again, now looking like a nine-year-old, and already in the process of helping her father, Dahak, implement his plan to take over the world. Hope allies herself with Xena's enemy, Callisto. In revenge for Xena's attempt to kill her as a baby, Hope murders Xena's son, Solan. This forces Gabrielle to accept that Hope is indeed evil. She kills her daughter by giving her poison,[12] an act that continues to haunt Gabrielle throughout the series. She holds herself responsible for Solan's death, as well as for betraying Xena a second time, even after reconciliation with Xena is effected through their musical journey in the Land of Illusia.[3] When she once again encounters Hope,[13] who was saved from the funeral pyre by her father, Gabrielle sacrifices herself to save Xena by jumping into a lava pit and taking Hope with her.[14] Gabrielle mysteriously survives the fall, and is later reunited with Xena.[15] It is later revealed that Ares saved Gabrielle, with plans to use her as a bargaining chip against Xena.

After her first kill,[10] and the traumatic events with Hope that followed it,[12] Gabrielle temporarily embraces complete pacifism as an alternative to fighting by Xena's side. She and Xena travel barefoot on pilgrimage to India, where they encounter a series of false prophets and gurus, as well as a genuine healer and teacher, Eli.[16] Eli claims to have found enlightenment and Gabrielle becomes interested in his philosophy of non-violence and inner peace, which he calls the Way of Love. Gabrielle attempts to follow Eli's way, and throws away her staff under his influence.[17] However, when Xena is in the midst of a battle with the Romans in an effort to rescue Gabrielle, Eli, and a group of prisoners, Callisto, uses Xena's own chakram against her, breaking her back. Gabrielle chooses to fight to save Xena and even kills some of the soldiers herself. Before their crucifixion, Gabrielle tells Xena that she had chosen "The Way of Friendship".[18]

After being crucified, Gabrielle and Xena ascend into Heaven, but are soon ambushed by demons.[19] The demons are able to take Gabrielle to Hell, where she comes face to face with the demonic form of Callisto. Xena and a group of Archangels are able to rescue Gabrielle from Hell before Gabrielle can fall to the darkness. She then learns that Xena has taken Callisto's place in Hell. She eventually forgives Callisto for the murder of Perdicas, and that act of forgiveness grants her the right to join the Archangels in battle. During her fight with the demon-Xena, they are restored to life by Eli.[19]

At this time, Gabrielle accepts her new path as a warrior and acquires a pair of sai, which become her signature weapon thereafter.[20] Xena's pregnancy, revealed shortly after the duo's return to life, further forces Gabrielle to fight and sometimes protect Xena. On two occasions, the god of war Ares, impressed by Gabrielle's new warrior skills, tries to recruit her to his side, but Gabrielle always resists.[21]

Gabrielle and Xena sleep in an ice cave for 25 years after Ares places them there because he mistakenly believes they are dead.[22] After waking up, Gabrielle discovers that her parents have been killed by the North African warlord Gurkhan, who has also kidnapped her niece, Sara, for his harem.[23] Around this time, Gabrielle develops a close friendship with Joxer's eldest son Virgil, who shares many of her traits as a bard and warrior. Gabrielle struggles with the issue of seeking vengeance against Gurkhan.[23] She is often troubled by her role as a warrior, particularly when she has to lead her Amazon tribe into a high-casualty battle against a superior army, led by the demigod Bellerophon, to rescue a fellow Amazon queen. Despite the success of the mission, Gabrielle tells Xena, "With each battle, I lose more of myself".[24]

The series' final scene finds her on a ship headed to Egypt, where she intends to continue the fight for the Greater Good, with Xena accompanying her in spirit.[25]

The Battling Bard of Potidaea[change | edit source]

When I first met you, you barely had the skill to skip a rock. I guess Xena's been a positive influence on ya after all.
—Ares, Seeds of Faith

Gabrielle starts the series as a young girl who more or less stands behind Xena, and relies on Xena to protect her.[6] In the course of 10 episodes, she acquires a fighting staff from the Greek Amazons[7] and is a decent fighter with it shortly after.[26] Another 10 episodes later, she displays immensely impressive skills with the staff, taking on numerous soldiers single-handedly, in the attempts to rescue Xena's presumably dead body.[27] Probably what is most impressive, is that two episodes later she blocks an arrow in flight with her staff.[28]

As time goes on, we see Gabrielle not only improve with her abilities with the staff, but as a total warrior as well. As she adds kicks, and minor acrobatics to her fighting, rolling over a hunched over opponent before proceeding to beat them.

While in India, Gabrielle is also thrown through time by a Darsham to save Xena's soul. It is said that their souls are together throughout time.[29] In this next life Xena is the Mother of Peace, Arminestra and Gabrielle is Shakti, a Warrior Prince of India.[29] At the end of season 4, however, is when Gabrielle shows a leap in her warrior abilities. After months of following her path of the Way of Love,[17] Gabrielle picks up the sword of a paralyzed Xena and fights off a large group Roman soldiers with incredible skill.[18] This however sparked concern among fans, who wondered how Gabrielle knew how to use a sword so well. One theory that could make sense is that in her time as a complete non-violent person, Gabrielle as an experienced fighter, no longer had to focus on her fighting and instead watched as Xena fought. At that point, as a seasoned fighter, Gabrielle is able to grow in a dramatic way through observation.

By season 5, we see Gabrielle reach an undisputed status as a warrior, fighting with her sai,[20] incorporating more acrobatic ability, even performing a wall run and back flip.[30] Other than sai and sometimes a new casual staff, she can use a large array of weapons with proficiency. Gabrielle also fights against warriors with notable skill; she defeats the warrior Mavican[21] and stands against Ares and Hades (two gods) in battle for a rather long period before they defeat her. She also fights in a sword duel with Brutus, Caesar's former right hand and one of leaders of Rome, eventually killing him.[31] As previously mentioned, Gabrielle's abilities become noticed by the God of War who seeks her out as his new protégée. It is mentioned later by Gabrielle and numerous others that Xena trained her throughout the years, although there have only been a few episodes that actually show Xena giving her any sort of martial arts training. One of Gabrielle's biggest fights of the season is her fight against fellow Amazon queen, Varia. They fight in an enclosed arena in a match in which Eve's life is at stake, and they appeared to be at a stand-off before she is beaten by Varia[32]. Gabrielle takes the loss graciously and continues to grow in skill over the season, regaining the title of supreme Amazon queen very soon.[24]

Gabrielle as a bard[change | edit source]

Gabrielle's bardic skills appear to be natural and self-taught. In the opening episode, she displays a remarkable ability to talk her way out of fearsome or difficult situations: she talks a cyclops out of eating her, and makes an ally of him; talks an old man into giving her a lift; talks a violent crowd out of killing Xena; and talks her way into joining Xena as her traveling partner.[6]

Besides her persuasive ability, she also reads and writes - rare skills for that time, loves to tell stories, and has some musical ability. As she travels with Xena, she records their adventures on a series of scrolls, with an eye for flair and drama. Occasionally her tendency to exaggerate and glamorize the facts gets her into trouble.[33] She is also shown telling stories for money in an inn. In other episodes she wins a place in the Athens City Academy for the Performing Bards,[34] is a famous playwright, is a theatrical director,[35] plays the pan pipes with considerable skill,[36] and is the only person able to recite a magical scroll with the correct accents.[37]

Despite Gabrielle's ascendancy as a warrior, her role as a bard remains important. About a year into her travels with Xena, her scrolls about Xena's exploits begin to gain popularity, apparently helping, according to Ares, turn Xena into a legend. After their 25-year sleep, Gabrielle finds out that her stories had been read as far away as North Africa where they were popular among nomad tribes.[38]

According to an episode set in modern times, Gabrielle's scrolls were preserved for thousands of years and later discovered by modern archeologists. They found their way to Hollywood, where they formed the basis of the television series.[39]

Gabrielle's costumes[change | edit source]

Throughout the course of the series, Gabrielle has a total of 7 regular costumes which become smaller, more conducive to her fighting style as the show progresses and more showing what the fans call "Fab Gab Abs" (Fabulous Gabrielle's Abdominals).[source?]

  • Gabrielle's first costume consists of her peasant clothes from her home village, which includes a light blue shirt, long red skirt and dark blue jacket.[6] Gabrielle's hair is always tied back when wearing this. The outfit makes its final (regular) appearance in the tenth episode of the first season, Hooves and Harlots. It is briefly seen during the second season episode "Remember Nothing" due to the re-use of video footage from the first season.
  • Gabrielle's second costume is a slight variation of the Amazon Princess tube top that makes a one time appearance when she is made Princess of the Amazons,[7] and is used for the remainder of the first season. The costume features dark brown leather boots, a brown shirt with an exposed midriff, blue patterns and a matching brown miniskirt. Gabrielle's hair is still tied back the same way as before, but changes colour between blonde and a brunette-red tone in the later episodes. Gabrielle also carries her fighting staff with this costume. In a chronological error, the episode in which it debuts[40] was aired prior to the episode where she is given the costume[7] in several countries. In this episode, Gabrielle is still wearing the blue Amazon necklace, but discards it for the remainder of the season.
  • Gabrielle's third costume makes its debut at the beginning of season 2.[41] It features a new, lighter brown miniskirt along with a woven, dark green sports bra with large diamond patterns (known to fans as the "BGSB", or Bilious Green Sports Bra). The boots remain the same as before. Her hair is left loose for the majority of the season, but is tied back similar to the previous costumes for the first few episodes. It is last seen in the second episode of season 3.[42]
  • Gabrielle's fourth costume is a variant of the previous one. The miniskirt now has a more reddish tone to it, and the bra top is now smaller, lighter in color and features small leaf patterns as opposed to the diamond designs of the previous one (but could easily be mistaken for the previous version by the more casual viewer). Again the boots are also identical to before. It first appears in the third episode of season 3,[43] and makes its final appearance in season 4.[16]
  • Gabrielle's fifth costume makes its first appearance in season 4.[16] Possessed by the demon Tataka, Gabrielle wears a bright yellow Indian two-piece along with an orange veil, and she goes barefoot during this season, though occasionally wears sandals. Throughout the episode she also wears pearls, but they are gone once Tataka is defeated. In the following episode,[29] Gabrielle's hair is cut by the chakram to chin length and she features elaborate Indian Henna body art, while in the next episode,[17] she disposes of her fighting staff for good. The costume makes its last appearance before Gabrielle and Xena are crucified in loincloths.[18]
  • Gabrielle's sixth costume makes its first appearance in the second episode of season 5.[20] The warrior outfit consists of a threaded leather brown bra with beads hanging off the bottom, the back is exposed, except for 3 straps. She also wears a very small orange miniskirt, with a brown threaded belt matching her bra top with straps hanging off the middle at the front and back of the skirt. Also included are brown armbands, silver gauntlets, a necklace and dark brown laced boots where Gabrielle keeps her new sai. When in colder climates, she wears a tan and white suede duster. Her hair, while still short, is longer than it was in the previous season, and the costume makes its final appearance in season 6.[44]
  • Gabrielle's seventh and final regular costume is seen for the first time in the third episode of season 6,[45] and is kept for the remainder of the show. The new bra top is nearly identical to the previous one, only now red in colour with slightly different patterns and no longer has beads. Alongside is a new red miniskirt with a black and silver belt, a new necklace and a single silver band on her right arm. The boots and gauntlets remain untouched.

Discoveries and inventions[change | edit source]

Along with Xena, occasionally, Gabrielle is known to be credited with a variety of discoveries and inventions.

  • Gabrielle discovers and names the Big Dipper.
  • Gabrielle successfully pioneers the custom of Santa Claus bringing down gifts during Solstice Eve, by encouraging Senticles to hand out toys to children in the kingdom where winter celebrations are banned.
  • Gabrielle is responsible for the creation of the game of charades.
  • Gabrielle thought up the idea of Pinocchio.

In astronomy[change | edit source]

In September 10, 2005, a month after Eris' discovery, its moon was discovered by the adaptive optics team at the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, who was carrying out observations of the four brightest Kuiper belt objects. In addition to its provisional designation S/2005 (2003 UB313) 1, its discoverers (among them Michael E. Brown), informally nicknamed it "Gabrielle", while Eris was nicknamed "Xena". In 2006, the International Astronomical Union has instead given its official name, Dysnomia[46], which retains a reference to Xena, as the English translation of Dysnomia, "Lawless", echoes the name of actress Lucy Lawless.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Stoddard Hayes, K. (March 2003). "Legendary Beginnings" (Paperback). Xena: Warrior Princess: The Complete Illustrated Companion. Titan Books. pp. 11-12. ISBN 1-84023-622-1.
  2. "A Woman of Deception: Gabrielle???!". Whoosh.org. http://whoosh.org/issue79/reams3.html. Retrieved 2007-05-16.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Bitter Suite". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-02-02.
  4. "Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-01-17.
  5. Susan Wood on the IMDB
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Sins of the Past". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1995-09-04.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Hooves and Harlots". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1995-11-20.
  8. "The Quest". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-02-03.
  9. "Return of Callisto". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-10-28.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "The Deliverer". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-10-20.
  11. "Gabrielle's Hope". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-10-27.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Maternal Instincts". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-01-26.
  13. "Sacrifice, Part 1". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-05-04.
  14. "Sacrifice, Part 2". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-05-11.
  15. "Adventures in the Sin Trade, Part 1". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1998-09-28.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "Devi". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-02-08.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "The Way". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-02-22.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "The Ides of March". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-05-10.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Fallen Angel". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-09-27.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 "Chakram". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-10-04.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Succession". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-10-11.
  22. "Looking Death in the Eye". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-04-24.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Who's Gurkhan?". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-10-23.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "To Helicon and Back". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2001-02-19.
  25. "A Friend in Need, Part 2". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2001-06-18.
  26. "Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-01-15.
  27. "The Greater Good". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-05-06.
  28. "Death Mask". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-06-03.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 "Between the Lines". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-02-15.
  30. "Animal Attraction". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1999-10-18.
  31. "Antony and Cleopatra". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-04-24.
  32. "Path of Vengeance". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2001-02-17.
  33. "The Quill Is Mightier...". Xena: Warrior Princess.
  34. "Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards". Xena: Warrior Princess.
  35. "The Play's The Thing". Xena: Warrior Princess.
  36. "The Prodigal". Xena: Warrior Princess.
  37. "The Titans". Xena: Warrior Princess.
  38. "Legacy". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-10-30.
  39. "The Xena Scrolls". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-01-13.
  40. "Death in Chains". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1995-11-13.
  41. "Orphan of War". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1996-09-30.
  42. "Been There, Done That". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-10-06.
  43. "The Dirty Half-Dozen". Xena: Warrior Princess. 1997-10-13.
  44. "The Haunting of Amphipolis". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-10-09.
  45. "Heart of Darkness". Xena: Warrior Princess. 2000-10-16.
  46. IAU Circular 8747 - Official publication of the IAU reporting the naming of Eris and Dysnomia (PDF file)