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Helen Of Troy

Helen (often called "Helen of Troy") was the daughter of Leda and Zeus, and was the sister of the Dioscuri and Clytemnestra. Since Zeus visited Leda in the form of a swan, Helen was often presented as being born from an egg. She was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world. When Helen was still a child, she was abducted by Theseus. Since she was not yet old enough to be married, he sent her to Aphidnae and left her in the care of his mother, Aethra. The Dioscuri rescued her and returned her to her home in Lacedaemon, taking Aethra prisoner at the same time. When Helen reached marriageable age, all the greatest men in Greece courted her. Her mother's husband, King Tyndareos of Lacedaemon, was concerned about the trouble that might be caused by the disappointed suitors. Acting on the advice of Odysseus, he got all the suitors to swear that they would support the marriage rights of the successful candidate. He then settled on Menelaus to be the husband of Helen. She lived happily with Menelaus for a number of years, and bore him a daughter, Hermione. After a decade or so of married life, Helen was abducted by ( or ran off with )Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy. Menelaus called on the other suitors to fulfill their oaths and help him get her back...

As a result, the Greek leaders mustered the greatest army of the time, placed it under the command of Agamemnon, and set off to wage what became known as the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, Menelaus took Helen back to Lacedaemon, where they lived an apparently happy married life once more. After the end of their mortal existence, they continued to be together in Elysium. There were a number of different accounts of Helen's relationship with Paris. In some, she was truly in love with him, although her sympathies were mostly with the Greeks who beseiged Troy. In others, she was a beautiful and wanton woman who brought disaster upon those around her. In still other accounts, she never went to Troy at all: Hermes, acting on Zeus's orders, spirited her away to Egypt and fashioned a phantom out of clouds to accompany Paris; the real Helen was reunited with Menelaus after the Trojan War...

Helen's Detailed Biography

Helen, famous in the whole world for her beauty, has been called "Lady of Sorrows", for according to some she was the cause of the Trojan War. Helen was abducted by Paris and held in Troy. For her sake a large army sailed against that city to demand the restoration of Helen to her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta...Here is her detailed life story...

Birth: Helen was born from an egg laid by Leda or Nemesis, so unbelievable as it sounds. Four children were born that day from the same mother but from different fathers: Castor 1 and Polydeuces, called the DIOSCURI, and Clytaemnestra and Helen. Of all four Helen and Polydeuces, being the children of Zeus, were immortal, but Castor 1 and Clytaemnestra, being those of King Tyndareus of Sparta, were mortal. Some say that Nemesis was Helen's mother. According to them, Nemesis, trying to escape Zeus, changed into a fish and other dread creatures. Others say she changed into a goose, but Zeus in turn took the likeness of a swan and lay with her. As the fruit of their love she laid an egg, which was found by a shepherd and given, they say, to Leda. And when Helen was hatched in due time, Leda brought her up as her own daughter...

Helen abducted by Theseus:
When Helen was ten or perhaps twelve years old she excelled all women in beauty, and also Theseus, founding her extremely lovely, carried her off. He brought her to Aphidnae, a city in Attica northwest of Marathon, and some say that Iphigenia, otherwise called daughter of Agamemnon, was their child. On Helen's return to Sparta, they add, she entrusted Iphigenia to her sister Clytaemnestra...

Theseus causes war and ruin for the sake of Helen: But because of the rape of Helen by Theseus, the DIOSCURI attacked Athens. At the beginning they simply demanded back their sister, without making any harm. When the people of the city replied that they neither had the girl nor knew where she had been left, they resorted to war. But Academus, who had learned in some way or other of her concealment at Aphidnae, told them about it. For this reason he was honoured during his life by the DIOSCURI, and afterwards when the Lacedaemonians invaded Attica and laid waste all the country, they spared the Academy, called after him...

Echedemus instead of Academus: But some say that a man called Echedemus was in the army of the DIOSCURI at the time when these came to Athens to rescue Helen and that after him the Academy was named Echedemia. Still others say that it was Titacus (who is known for this), who revealed to the DIOSCURI that Helen was hidden in Aphidnae...

Theseus' crush on Helen, crushes out a city and degrades his mother: So Theseus carried off Helen and while he was in the Underworld the DIOSCURI marched against Aphidnae, took the city, got possession of Helen and led Aethra 2, Theseus' mother away captive. She became the handmaid of Helen to serve her as a slave, and only at the end of the Trojan War she was taken back to Athens by Demophon 1 and Acamas 1, two sons of Theseus by Phaedra, the daughter of Minos 2. Otherwise it is said that when the DIOSCURI had taken Aphidnae and controlled Athens, although they were masters of everything, they demanded only an initiation into the mysteries. But some claim that Aphidnae was completely destroyed by the DIOSCURI...

Helen's Wedding and the Oath of the Suitors: When some time later Helen was about to be married many kings from Greece came to Sparta to win her hand. King Tyndareus, Helen's father or stepfather, feared that the preference of one of the suitors might provoke the enmity of the others. For this reason an oath was exacted from all the SUITORS OF HELEN. And upon this oath the coalition that made war against Troy was grounded. Helen was married to Menelaus, who in time succeeded Tyndareus in the throne of Sparta...

The Apple of Discord: When Helen was now Menelaus' wife, there took place the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, whose child Achilles, fifteen years later was to become one of the ACHAEAN LEADERS against Troy. All gods were invited to this wedding, except Eris (Discord), who took bitter revenge by throwing at the party one of the Golden Apples of the HESPERIDES, known as "The Apple of Discord" to be contended as a prize of beauty...

Paris judges the goddesses and fetches Helen: The shepherd Paris was then appointed to decide who the fairest was, and he, liking Aphrodite's bribe most of all, gave the apple to her. So after assigning the beauty award, Paris came to Sparta to fetch the prize Aphrodite had given him in return, which was the hand of Helen. Soon after his arrival to Sparta, the shepherd Paris, now known as a Trojan prince, succeeded in seducing Queen Helen who, abandoning her daughter Hermione, then nine years old, put most of her and Menelaus' property on board and set sail with Paris by night to Troy. They consummated their marriage in the island of Cranae in the Laconian Gulf...

Change of destination because of storms: During the voyage Hera sent heavy storms and they were forced to put in at Sidon, a Phoenician city, where Paris had the opportunity of purchasing richly broidered robes which he gave to his mother Hecabe 1 when he reached Troy. Later, fearing persecution, Helen and Paris spent much time in both Phoenicia and Cyprus...

Did Helen ever came to Troy? But some say that Helen never came to Troy. For, they say, Hermes, following Zeus' instructions, stole Helen and carried her to Egypt, where she was guarded by King Proteus 3, so that Paris came to Troy with no more than a phantom of Helen fashioned out of clouds. Others say that Paris and Helen came to Egypt, and that it was the warden of the Nile mouth Thonis who told King Proteus 3 about the arrival of Paris in Egypt after, as he put it, having done great wrong in Hellas. So when Proteus 3 learned about Paris' actions he gave order to seize him and Thonis went back to detain the ships and arrested Paris, bringing him together with Helen to Memphis. Paris was subject to interrogation and it became evident that he had violated the laws of hospitality, taking the wife of his host and plundering his house. But Proteus 3 would not kill strangers, so he just ordered him to leave the country, though without Helen. That is why when she was fetched in Egypt by Menelaus, after a meaningless war for the sake of a phantom at Troy, she told him: "To Troy I went not: that...a phantom was." [Helen to Menelaus. Euripides, Helen 582] And also: "Never to alien prince's bed, wafted by wings of the oars I fled." [Helen to Menelaus. Euripides, Helen 668] And she described how Hermes brought her to Egypt following Zeus' orders, while Paris sailed to Troy with a phantom fashioned by Hera. But others say Paris reached Troy with Helen in three days from Sparta, having a fair wind and a smooth sea...

War: When Menelaus learned that Helen had sailed away with Paris he asked his brother Agamemnon to raise an army. Now was the time to remind the kings of Greece of their oath. An alliance was formed which sailed to Troy and besieged the city. The coalition sent an embassy to demand the restoration of Helen and the Spartan property. But the Trojans refused to restore Helen and threatened to kill the envoys...


Helen & Paris

Paris dead. New Marriage: After the death of Achilles, whom Paris killed, Philoctetes joined the campaign against Troy again being cured by Podalirius, the son of Asclepius. He brought with him the Bow of Heracles 1 with its poisoned arrows (the poison from the Hydra) and with it he shot Paris dead in single combat, the body being outraged by Menelaus. After the death of Paris, Helenus 1 and Deiphobus 1, both sons of King Priam 1 & Hecabe 1, quarrelled as to which of them should marry Helen. Having Deiphobus 1 being preferred he married Helen and Helenus 1 moved his residence to Ida. This change of residence seems to have made it easier for Odysseus to capture him...

Helping the ACHAEANS? It is said that Odysseus entered incognito into Troy as a beggar. And being recognised by Helen, he with her help stole away the Palladium and brought it to the ships with the aid of Diomedes 2.

Helping the TROJANS? But on a later occasion, when the ACHAEANS were inside the WOODEN HORSE, Helen went round it and called the different chiefs, imitating the voices of each of their wives. She did it so well that Anticlus would have answered, but Odysseus held fast his mouth, and when he tried to escape the pressure of the hands and Odysseus held him harder Anticlus lost his breath and died.

Signalling: While Sinon, who having been left behind by the ACHAEANS during their pretended retreat in order to light a beacon lamp as a signal to them, started signalling with a shining brand beside the tomb of Achilles, Helen too was awake and signalling herself from her chamber to the Achaean fleet to return, for the WOODEN HORSE was inside the walls, the gates would open and the city was doomed.

Back to her former husband: When the city was taken Menelaus killed Deiphobus 1 and led Helen to the ships. Having wandered for eight years in several Mediterranean countries Menelaus and Helen came back to Sparta. Some years later, Odysseus' son, still looking for his father, visited them in Sparta to see if he could get some news about him, and at that time it looked like Helen and Menelaus led a pleasant life in their city.

Exile, death, immortality: It is said that when Menelaus died Helen was driven away from Sparta by Nicostratus and Megapenthes 1, sons of Menelaus by other women, according to some. As Helen believed Polyxo 4 to be her friend she went to Rhodes. There Polyxo 4, widow of Tlepolemus 1 who died in Troy, was queen. But Polyxo 4 wished to avenge the death of her husband on Helen, and arranged her death. So she sent against Helen when she was bathing servants dressed up as ERINYES, who seized Helen and hanged her on a tree. Leonymus, who visited the White Isle in the mouth of the river Danube, says that Helen was, after death, wedded to Achilles and lived with him there. But others say that Menelaus was made immortal by Hera, and he and Helen live in happiness in the Elysian Fields. Still others say that Orestes 2, in his madness and anger against Menelaus, tried to kill Helen but Apollo saved her and took her to heaven. "Helen I will conduct to the mansion of Zeus; There men shall adore her, a goddess enthroned beside Hera and Hebe...There she... shall be worshipped for ever with wine outpoured." [Apollo. Euripides, Orestes 1685]...

* A nice writing about Helen : The Conflicting Views of Helen

* The Letter of Paris to Helen

 

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