XENA'S FAMILY: WHO ARE THEY?
IAXS Project #051
By Deborah White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Content © 1996 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1996 held by Whoosh!
One of the most intriguing mysteries in the Xenaverse concerns Xena's blood relatives. This essay attempts to sort through the vague clues and hodgepodge of "family" episodes to determine what has been said about Xena's family and what it all might mean.
"My father was killed in battle and so were all three of my brothers. I won't be."
---Xena, The Warrior Princess, in WARRIOR PRINCESS (HTLJ, #09)
 The question of how many siblings Xena has is often debated because of this line. In SINS OF THE PAST (#01), Xena visits the tomb of her younger brother, Lyceus, who died fighting Cortese. So, we have one brother dead. We meet Toris in DEATH MASK (#23), alive and well, trying to make up for fleeing when Xena and Lyceus stood up to the warlord, Cortese. He is another sibling, but not dead this time. There has been no third brother, or even a third sibling, shown or actively talked about in the show since.
 We meet Xena's mother in SINS OF THE PAST, working at an inn with no husband or children, so the third is not at home - that we know of. So how many siblings does Xena have?
 It has been suggested that Xena was lying to Iolaus when she told him she had three brothers. This theory is based on the fact that Toris was not dead (DEATH MASK) and that Xena accepted the fact that her father might not be dead after all (TIES THAT BIND, #20). However, Xena had no reason to lie to Iolaus. She was not trying to get his sympathy. The words come off more as a statement of refusal; she is driven to be the greatest warrior so that she (or people like Lyceus, who's death she feels responsible for (REMEMBER NOTHING, #26) will not die in battle. Also, for all Xena knew, her father and Toris were dead.
 Xena was shocked to see Toris in DEATH MASK, maybe because she counted him as dead as he fled Cortese's attack. Also, Xena might have meant that her brothers were symbolically dead to her. Xena's mother disowns her ('dead' to her family) in SINS OF THE PAST because Xena shamed the family. Since the evil Xena strove to be the ultimate warrior, Toris' act of cowardice when Cortese came might have made him 'dead' to her. Her father abandoning her would also make him 'dead' for his dishonorable act. Her father was a warrior and very well might have been physically dead from a battle.
 Therefore I conclude that Xena did indeed have three brothers.
 Lyceus is mentioned several times and was obviously very close to Xena. She goes to Lyceus' grave in SINS OF THE PAST for comfort. In REMEMBER NOTHING, she tells Gabrielle she honors Lyceus every year, yet she has not done this for the rest of her 'dead' family. We know that Lyceus taught Xena weapons and that he supported her decision to fight Cortese. The closeness goes even further, for Xena is initially willing to give up her mother's life and Gabrielle's personality so that he will still be alive. Lyceus is one of the people Xena was relatively open about with Gabrielle.
 Xena was not close to Toris, though. There was a constant friction between Xena and Toris in DEATH MASK. This is because Toris thought the only way to survive Cortese's attack was to run, while Xena and Lyceus stayed. Where Xena stands and confronts her problems, Toris' philosophy seems to be more of 'avoid the trouble unless forced to (by guilt, here),' which may have lead to distance between the two before Cortese's attack. Even if they were close before the attack, ten years of resentment/believing Toris dead has lead to a distance between them which only begins to heal at the end of DEATH MASK.
 The question of why Toris was not mentioned in REMEMBER NOTHING begs to be asked. Lyceus even says about Xena, "She's the only family I've got left." Xena just got her favorite brother back from the dead and is concentrating on his life, not someone who is not around and she is not used to thinking about. Also, she does not really think about the differences in the new time line from the old until they are brought up: her mother being dead and the Amazon's being captured. To her, Toris still has run away and is not around: still wandering alone or dead. She probably never thought to ask with everything else that was happening. Lyceus either knows Toris is (literally) dead or does not consider him part of the family (symbolically gone). No one brought Toris up, and it is something Lyceus assumes Xena knows, so has no reason to bring it up himself. So Toris ends up the known, but not mentioned, brother of the family.
 The third brother is the unknown brother. In both time lines he is dead. He may later come up in the series, but it is my personal belief he died as an infant. In DEATH MASK, Xena tells Gabrielle, "No, he is my younger brother. This is my older brother, Toris." The way the statement is worded makes it sound like one older and one younger brother. Still, there could be a middle or youngest brother. However this third brother is never mentioned and therefore is assumed dead. I think part of the reason Xena was so protective of babies, even risking her life for one in THE GAUNTLET (HTLJ, #12), might have been that Cortese killed her third brother. In DREAMWORKER (#03), when Xena confronts her first kill and her last kill, she tells her first kill, "I had to stop you. You were killing my friends, my family." At first I thought she meant Lyceus, but she went to battle with Lyceus, not because Lyceus died. Since an infant sibling's death is a painful subject, no one would bring it up without a good cause. Therefore the mysterious third brother is dead with no reason to mention him to another family member.
 Xena's father is another not-talked about person. In TIES THAT BIND (#20), we learn that he left when Xena was young. She only remembers small fragments of the happy times they spent together, which would mean she was very young. He is another shame on the family, leaving Xena's mother alone to run an inn while he rode off to find adventure. All of the living children were too young to remember him well. Given Xena's mother's ideas on shame, they probably all thought of him as dishonorable and 'dead' to the family. In the beginning of TIES THAT BIND, Xena flatly refuses to believe her father alive or that he might do any good deed. There was no reason to mention him or want to mention him. Again, another family member never talked about because the lack of enough driving reason.
 Xena's son was a hidden fact for more than lack of reason, though. In ORPHAN OF WAR (#25), we find out that Solon is nine and was given to the centaurs to protect him from being used against Xena (him getting hurt) and to keep him from becoming like her. In REMEMBER NOTHING, we learned that the war with Cortese happened eleven years ago. That means Xena was pregnant with Solon while leading an army. Yet Dagnine, who was in Xena's army at the time did not even know Xena was pregnant.
 Xena got pregnant by Barias, whom she was relaxed enough around to sing with. She probably trusted Barias and had him be her 'mouth' while she was pregnant. She could command her army from ramparts and tents while Barias made sure her orders were carried out. This would keep the secret safe from the army, though rumors would be hard to stop. This might be why Dagnine was not surprised, but delighted, that Xena had a son. He had never seen the son, but had heard rumors that now turned out to be true. Xena wanted to keep Solon a secret, so she hide him while she was pregnant and by not talking about him after she gave him up. After Xena turned good, Solon could still be used against her and she was already in the habit of not letting any reference about him slip out.
 Xena does not talk about her family much, but they do exist. She may very well have three brothers since she has no reason to talk about those dead (literally or figuratively) to her. Her father may be alive or dead, but all she has left of him are memories and a feeling of shame. Her son is alive, but was a secret carefully buried not to be talked about for his safety. Xena's mother is the rock of the family, enduring as a place to come home to, yet home is rarely talked about. In TIES THAT BIND, Xena says Gabrielle is like a sister to her. Not true, Xena talks about Gabrielle (she DEFINITELY does not talk about her family!). Oh, okay, so she DOES have a good reason to talk about Gabrielle, so maybe she is like family.