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Etymology[ edit ] The etymology of Helen's name continues to be a problem for scholars. Linda Lee Clader, however, says that none of the above suggestions offers much satisfaction. The origins of Helen's myth date back to the Mycenaean age. Her mythological birthplace was Sparta of the Age of Heroeswhich features prominently in the canon of Greek myth: The kings, Helen of troy, and heroes of the Trojan Cycle are often related to the gods, since divine origins gave stature to the Greeks' heroic ancestors.
The fall of Troy came to represent a fall from an illustrious heroic age, remembered for centuries in oral tradition before being written down. Archaeologists have unsuccessfully looked for a Mycenaean palatial complex buried beneath present-day Sparta.
These mansions, destroyed by earthquake and fire, are considered by archaeologists to be the possible palace of Menelaus and Helen. The artist has been intrigued by the idea of Helen's unconventional birth; she and Clytemnestra are shown emerging from one egg; Castor and Pollux from another.
In most sources, including the Iliad and the OdysseyHelen is the daughter of Zeus and of Ledathe wife of the Spartan king Tyndareus. In the form of a swan, the king of gods was chased by an eagle, and sought refuge with Leda.
The swan gained her affection, and the two mated. Leda then produced an egg, from which Helen emerged. Nevertheless, the same author earlier states that Helen, Castor and Pollux were produced from a single egg.
In the Cypria, Nemesis did not wish to mate with Zeus. She therefore changed shape into various animals as she attempted to flee Zeus, finally becoming a goose.
Zeus also transformed himself into a goose and raped Nemesis, who produced an egg from which Helen was born. People believed that this was "the famous egg that legend says Leda brought forth". Pausanias traveled to Sparta to visit the sanctuary, dedicated to Hilaeira and Phoebein order to see the relic for himself.
Side A from an Attic red-figure bell-krater, c. Two AtheniansTheseus and Pirithousthought that since they were both sons of gods, both of them should have divine wives; they thus pledged to help each other abduct two daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen, and Pirithous vowed to marry Persephonethe wife of Hades.
Theseus took Helen and left her with his mother Aethra or his associate Aphidnus at Aphidnae or Athens. Theseus and Pirithous then traveled to the underworldthe domain of Hades, to kidnap Persephone. Hades pretended to offer them hospitality and set a feast, but, as soon as the pair sat down, snakes coiled around their feet and held them there.
Helen's abduction caused an invasion of Athens by Castor and Pollux, who captured Aethra in revenge, and returned their sister to Sparta.
Sextus Propertius imagines Helen as a girl who practices arms and hunts with her brothers: When it was time for Helen to marry, many kings and princes from around the world came to seek her hand, bringing rich gifts with them or sent emissaries to do so on their behalf.
During the contest, Castor and Pollux had a prominent role in dealing with the suitors, although the final decision was in the hands of Tyndareus. Oath of Tyndareus[ edit ] Tyndareus was afraid to select a husband for his daughter, or send any of the suitors away, for fear of offending them and giving grounds for a quarrel.
Odysseus was one of the suitors, but had brought no gifts because he believed he had little chance to win the contest. He thus promised to solve the problem, if Tyndareus in turn would support him in his courting of Penelopethe daughter of Icarius.
Tyndareus readily agreed, and Odysseus proposed that, before the decision was made, all the suitors should swear a most solemn oath to defend the chosen husband against whoever should quarrel with him. After the suitors had sworn not to retaliate, Menelaus was chosen to be Helen's husband.
As a sign of the importance of the pact, Tyndareus sacrificed a horse. Menelaus and Helen rule in Sparta for at least ten years; they have a daughter, Hermioneand according to some myths three sons: AethiolasMaraphiusand Pleisthenes.
The marriage of Helen and Menelaus marks the beginning of the end of the age of heroes.
Concluding the catalog of Helen's suitors, Hesiod reports Zeus' plan to obliterate the race of men and the heroes in particular.
The Trojan War, caused by Helen's elopement with Paris, is going to be his means to this end. Judgement of Paris Parisa Trojan prince, came to Sparta to claim Helen, in the guise of a supposed diplomatic mission. Before this journey, Paris had been appointed by Zeus to judge the most beautiful goddess ; HeraAthenaor Aphrodite.The mythical Helen of Troy has inspired poets and artists for centuries as the woman whose beauty sparked the Trojan War.
But Helen’s character is more complex than it seems. When considering the many Greek and Roman myths that surround Helen, from her childhood to her life after the Trojan War, a layered and fascinating woman emerges. Make no mistake: Margaret George's Helen of Troy is indeed a doorstopper of a book, coming in at over pages, and it could very easily have become bogged down in endless unpronounceable names and illogical storylines/5().
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Jan 26, · Watch video · Prince Paris of Troy, shipwrecked on a mission to the king of Sparta, meets and falls for Queen Helen before he knows who she is.
Rudely received by the royal Greeks, he must flee but fate and their mutual passions lead him to take Helen along/10(K). Helen of Troy, Greek Helene, in Greek legend, the most beautiful woman of Greece and the indirect cause of the Trojan War.
She was daughter of Zeus, either by . Helen of Troy is a Greek-turned-Trojan princess known for her incredible beauty. After the Legends broke time, she became an anachronism in Hollywood, Not wanting to be sent back to Troy only to be mistreated by men, Helen was sent to the island Themyscira to become a .