Legendary Journeys

"I've been hanged, swung over a fire and nearly shish-kabobed on razor sharp spikes - how do you mortals get from day to day?"

―A mortal Ares
Ten Little Warlords
Xena Ares mortal.jpg
Xena and a Mortal Ares
Series Xena: Warrior Princess
Season 2
Antagonist Sisyphus
Setting Greece
In-Universe Date Year 1
Production # V0215
Filming Dates 22 October to 30 October 1996
Original Air-Date 18 November 1996
Written By Paul Robert Coyle
Directed By Charles Siebert
Episode Chronology
Order in Series 32 of 134
Order in Season 8 of 22
Order in Franchise 82 of 304
Previous Episode in Series "Intimate Stranger"
Next Episode in Series "A Solstice Carol"
Previous Episode in Franchise "Prince Hercules"
Next Episode in Franchise "A Star to Guide Them"
Title Image
Ten Little Warlords TITLE.jpg

Joxer delivers a letter to Xena, who is still in Callisto's body, telling her that ten of the greatest warriors are being challenged by Sisyphus to slay a monster known as the Barrachus. The reward is Ares' divinity. Meanwhile, Earth is beginning to lose all sanity, as a result of the lack of a Deity of War.


Joxer delivers an important scroll to Xena (still in Callisto's body).

Xena, still trapped in the body of her nemesis Callisto, is sitting by the campfire one night when she and Gabrielle are surprised by the arrival of Joxer. Searching his pockets, he quickly produces a scroll containing an important message meant for the real Callisto, who is still languishing in Xena's body in the Underworld. Her curiosity aroused, Xena opens the scroll to find an invitation from Ares, the god of war, to attend a meeting of warlords in a small seaside village nearby.

Xena and Gabrielle travel to a village in trouble.

Sensing trouble, Xena and Gabrielle, who is in a much more aggressive mood than usual, travel to the village. There they see a couple of the warlords, who have been bitter enemies, treating each other with unexpected civility. Baffled by their behavior, Xena continues to observe as Gabrielle wanders off to the local fish market, where a brawl among the villagers quickly ensues. Confused by the spectacle of innocent people turning violent and warlords on their best behavior, Xena and Gabrielle enter the village tavern to find a sloppy drunk babbling at the end of the bar. Much to their surprise, the man turns out to be Ares, stripped of his divinity and vulnerable to all the frailties of mortal men.

Xena and a mortal Ares.

The fallen Ares explains that his sword has been stolen by a mysterious thief, thus robbing him of his powers and condemning him to life as a mortal. It was the thief, not Ares, who sent the invitations to Callisto and her warrior brethren. Ares further explains that without a sitting god of war, peaceful people have lost the self-discipline to control their anger. He refers to Gabrielle, who has become unusually contentious, as a case in point. Only seasoned warriors, who are accustomed to channeling their compulsions, can now control their passions. Xena orders Gabrielle to stay behind as she and Ares set out for the warlords' meeting place. As an added incentive, Ares promises Xena that if they succeed, he will put her back in her real body. On the way, Xena intercepts one of the warriors and knocks him unconscious, enabling Ares to steal his invitation to the gathering.

Xena asks Joxer to pretend to be scared of her pretending to be Callisto.

Upon their arrival, the warriors, ten in all, are ordered to surrender their weapons and board a boat. Once on deck, they receive the message that the god of war is retiring and one of them will be selected to take his place. Later on the ship many of the men debate over why Ares is planning this. Ares claims to Xena that because he was born a god, imbued with all the responsibilities, no mortal can handle the power.

Sisyphus returns...

The boat eventually docks at a dilapidated castle, where the group is greeted by their host Sisyphus, the Machiavellian king and trickster who, it turns out, was the thief who stole Ares' Sword while escaping from the Underworld. Sisyphus tells his guests that whoever slays "The Barrachus" -- a vicious beast lurking outside the castle -- will win Ares' Sword and divinity. Sisyphus himself will then be granted immortality.

Xena and Ares have a heart to heart talk.

Several small cliques form as the warlords begin a full-scale war among themselves to determine who will get the chance to win the invaluable prize. Xena is paired with Ares and finds that his experience as a mortal has made him dramatically different from the cold killer she has known in the past. Ares tells Xena when he regains his divinity perhaps he'll be more like he now. Xena tells him once he regains his divinity, he'll be the same tyrant he was before he became mortal.

The Barrachus revealed!

Meanwhile, Gabrielle and Joxer, who have reached the island on a small boat of their own making, are both suffering from severe cases of anxiety: they sneak into the castle via an underground drainage pipe through which they hear the unholy howling of the Barrachus. Joxer's courage starts to fade quickly as the pair head towards the beast's lair until he sees the "monster" itself: a huge noise-making drum, designed to magnify the shifting winds into terrifying roars and moans.

Sisyphus pleads with Xena to destroy Ares and claim the prize.

As he takes out his aggressions on the inanimate object, Xena and Ares face off against the dreaded Tegason and Virgilius, the only warlords who have escaped death at the hands of their fellow competitors. Xena finds Ares' Sword hidden in the cold hands of a dead warlord and in an epic battle, she and Ares kill their attackers. Sisyphus then pleads with Xena to destroy Ares and claim the prize, but Gabrielle and Joxer burst in and reveal the secret behind The Barrachus.

Ares becomes a Deity again.

Bitterly defeated, Sisyphus confesses that Hades promised to make him the new god of war if he delivered the world's ten best warriors to him. Xena hands the sword back over to Ares, then watches solemnly as Sisyphus returns to his previous punishment. Ares returns to his cold and emotionless ways and Gabrielle returns to her peaceful and happy self.

Xena gets her body back.

Later, when Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer head to the boat, they walk along the beach at sunset. Gabrielle tells Xena that even if Ares doesn't keep his word and he doesn't switch Xena back to her old body, she will always be there for her. Xena suddenly appears in her real body again. After testing Xena to see if it's really her, Gabrielle asks her, "Whose bodies are worse being trapped in than Callisto's?" Xena responds, "A snake-haired gorgon." They hug and walk off to join Joxer near the boat.


No one was harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, Xena's ability to recover her body was severely impeded by Lucy Lawless' unexpected mishap.




Background Information[]

  • Shooting Dates: October 22nd through October 30th, 1996 (7-day shoot)
  • Charles Siebert takes over the role of Sisyphus from Ray Henwood.
  • Sisyphus refers to having died, which was seen in HTLJ's "Highway to Hades".
  • The extended length of time in which Xena was trapped in Callisto's body was due to the fact that Lucy Lawless fractured her hip during rehearsals of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno which forced the writers to come up with a story that didn't include the star of the series. Lucy was slated to perform some horse tricks when the horse reared and fell on Lucy.
  • Due to Lucy's mishap, Hudson Leick was pressed into emergency service to play as Xena.
  • The final scene in this episode, where we see Xena in her normal body, was actually recycled from the opening credits with the color scheme changed.
  • Although not explicitly stated, it is generally assumed that Xena's return to her original body was Ares' way of saying thank you. Alternatively, Hades finally got with the program and rectified the situation, Xena having returned Callisto and Sisyphus to him.
  • Technically, this is a Xena-lite episode.

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