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Leda and the Swan: The Birth of Helen of Troy - Greek Mythology - See U in History

As the plot unfolds, Helen remains an elusive presence at Troy, as the different Greek kingdoms come to demand her return to Menelaus. The outcome of her adulterous relationship with Paris hardly needs to be repeated here: a ten-year war and the annihilation of the city of Troy.

In the Iliad, the cause of the war is ambiguous. Homer offers listeners the poem would have been performed orally no easy explanation as to why the Greeks were willing to participate in such a lengthy conflict. While Helen repeatedly acknowledges her role in igniting the conflict, other characters, such as Priam, refuse to blame her. The Greek gods — who are accused of staging this great conflict — and the Trojan prince Paris are also held responsible.

In some parts of Greece, she was revered as a goddess. Indeed, the early stories are extremely vague but the poet Stesichorus , who lived around BC, purportedly slandered Helen — and was struck blind after doing so. The story goes that he recovered his sight after he denied that Helen ever went to Troy.

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According to this source :. The people of Asia made no matter of the seizure of their women. The Greeks, however, for the sake of [Helen], recruited a great army, then came to Asia, and destroyed the power of Priam. Beyond antiquity, many have continued to struggle with the enigmatic Helen. In many ways, the painting focuses on the image of Helen as an impossibly beautiful mortal.

Helen of Troy wasn't from Troy

Her hair is golden, and she is draped in elaborately decorated apparel. Upon closer inspection, however, viewers will see that Helen has a purpled left cheek. Is Rossetti suggesting that Paris struck his new bride, stealing her away by force? Helen is also depicted, however, before a blazing city, while pointing to a locket that depicts a flaming torch.

She appears to be saying that it is she who is responsible for this conflagration.

About the Book

It is worth bearing in mind that Helen is not always envisioned as a guilty, destructive force. The majority of responses to Helen since the Iliad nonetheless have centred on the issue of her culpability.

As the film Troy shows, Trojan War narratives still tend to pivot on Helen and her tempestuous romance with Paris. This, of course, fits into a much wider historical picture, in which women and their bodies have been used as a trope through which to explore issues such as warfare, violence and temptation — in some ways, she is another Eve, a temptress who led the great men of the day astray and set the Near East on fire.

There have been echoes of this throughout time, from medieval witches being blamed — and burned — for corrupting society to the recent debate over the burkini ban in France. Laden with doom, yet surprising in its moments of innocence and beauty, this is a beautifully told story of a legendary woman and her times. An exquisite page-turner with a cast of irresistible characters—Odysseus, Hector, Achilles, Priam, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, as well as Helen and Paris themselves—and a wealth of material that reproduces the Age of Bronze in all its glory, Helen of Troy brings to life a war that we have all learned about but never before experienced.

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Helen of Troy, The Beauty Who Sparked the Trojan War | Ancient Origins

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Helen of Troy

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