Clytemnestra - Wikipedia
In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy also known as Helen of Sparta, was said to have been the .. Clytemnestra tries to warn Agamemnon that sacrificing Iphigenia for Helen's sake is, "buying There is an affectionate relationship between the two, and Helen has harsh words for Paris when she compares the two brothers. When Clytemnestra chooses to wed the Mycenaean king Agamemnon, she I am not aware of any ancient sources for Helen's relationship with Gelanor or her . She was thus the sister of Helen of Troy and Castor and Pollux. There really is no information about the relation of Clytemnestra and Helen. The fact that.
In one she is noble, in the other a self-serving opportunist. Are there sources for these? What elements in the novel are pure invention on your part or differ radically from their sources? Evadne is also a fictional character, and the sacred household snake as well-although people did keep such snakes.
The bestowal of the gift of prophecy on Helen after encountering the snakes at the shrine of Asclepius is also my invention, as is-of course-her meeting with Aphrodite in the cave.
Hints that Antenor might be her father were my addition, to add to her confusion about her origins. I omitted the Theseus abduction story because that story relates to the Athenian myth cycle and was a digression rather than a contribution to the story I wanted to tell. Myths are continually added one upon another and tend to be repetitious, so that in some versions Helen is abducted twice and in other stories ends up having as many as ten children rather than the one Homer gives her.
We can freely edit these later additions without guilt. From your researches do you think there was a historical Helen whose abduction was the cause of a great war? Have you visited the archaeological remains of Troy in Hissarlik, Turkey? I like to think there was a real historical Helen. It has never seemed unreasonable to me that a war would start over an abducted woman, especially a queen or a princess.
Men have gone to war over much flimsier excuses than that, and this was a warlike culture. The shade of Helen still walks there! There are several passages concerning warfare in this novel-from the failure of diplomacy to biological weapons and the handling of prisoners of war-that resonate with the current war in Iraq.
Did you have Iraq in mind when imagining the siege of Troy? Did you find parallels between ancient or mythical warfare, as chronicled by Homer, and twenty-first-century warfare?
I did not have Iraq specifically in mind because that section was written before the war, but if ever anything provides an example of how little has changed in war and the reasons for war, this certainly does.
But all the elements of present conflicts were there: And then the devastation of war and the price paid by innocent civilians and bystanders, and the long aftermath of waste and loss.
In your research for your novel about Mary, did you come across evidence for this cult? What in the Mary legend bespeaks of Helen?
Helen and Mary Magdalene both are linked with Sophia, the spirit of wisdom. Mary Magdalene, although a historical character, absorbed the qualities of other legendary women such as Mary of Egypt a noted fourth-century A.
Magus was revered by Gnostics as a holy man of wisdom and reviled by the early church as a charlatan and magician, mentioned in Acts 8: Mary Magdalene was also infused with Sophia and recognized by Jesus as such in the Gnostic gospels. Mary Magdalene and Helen of Troy are further linked by their threatening and disturbing sexuality, at least as the church comprehended them.
In the Judgment of Paris myth, Paris is awarded Helen for selecting Aphrodite as the most beautiful of all the goddesses. In your novel, Helen never fully learns of this agreement. Why did you omit this from the novel? Did you feel this would have compromised the sincerity of their relationship? In every relationship, even between soul mates, there are secrets kept one from another.
As you suggest, I felt that Paris knew it would be taken the wrong way by Helen and might sow seeds of doubt in her mind that he had freely chosen her. It would belittle the feelings they had for each other and make them feel like slaves of the goddess. Are you interested in fictionalizing other mythical characters?Where Is Menelaus From?
How successful do you find the attempts by other authors? I am intrigued by the relationship between Persephone and Hades; this needs exploring. Being Queen of the Underworld has a Poe-like fascination. Someone noted that even though Persephone is only in the Underworld half the year, people die all year, so what happens to them if they die when she is away?
I have also heard a suggestion that she actually preferred the company of Hades to that of her mother, Demeter, and that far from being tricked, she ate the pomegranate seeds on purpose so she could stay with him. She became a literal femme fatale, ruling from her black marble throne over the dead. Atalanta, the swift-racing maiden who also hunted the fearsome Calydonian boar and joined Jason and the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece, would certainly lend herself to a modern reinterpretation.
She was the foremost female athlete in Greek mythology, and also beautiful, of course. All retelling of myth proves how alive these stories still are and how they resonate with us today. Some retellings are just that and others seek to reinterpret the myths in new ways. In general I think the ones that do not seek to overthrow the basic mind-set of the stories fare best, such as the works of Mary Renault.
The main decision, whether to keep the gods as main players or not, is the key one. Without the gods, much of the motivation of the human characters collapses. Attempts to substitute something else, for example, making the war at Troy just about trade, fall flat. One of the surprises readers will encounter in Helen of Troy is the unflattering portrayal of Odysseus. Full of deception, yes, but Odysseus is certainly one of the most likable characters in ancient literature. Why did you portray him as little more than a conniving liar?
Other stories make him more and more low minded, so that he lies in wait for revenge on Palamedes because he once outsmarted Odysseus by revealing his trickery, thereby sending him to the war. With trumped-up charges, planted evidence, and false witnesses, he gets Palamedes condemned to death by stoning. A modern military analyst has said that today Odysseus would be court-martialed for his failure to bring any of his men home, after needlessly endangering their lives throughout his mission.
The larger story is involved with the people around her, their rise and fall. She herself seemed almost oblivious to the horrors that surrounded her. She displayed very little emotion and no remorse. She seemed removed and largely unaffected by the outcome of the war.
In most accounts of her final years she was not even made to pay for her part in the calamity that touched virtually every family in Greece.
It is small wonder some writers contrived alternative versions in which she was made to pay a debt to society. From Women of Classical Mythology: We have little reason to doubt it, but we have little more to believe that it was the greatest conflict ever to have occurred.
The Greeks however, thought that it was: With the passage of time these heroic exploits had entered the realm of legend, people were convinced that the gods had taken part, and history became myth.
The Trojan War glows with a dark fire at the dawn of time as the unsurpassable model for all the wars that were to come. An extraordinary phenomenon must have an extraordinary cause. Did Homer think so? It is impossible to tell: One thing is clear: The affair started with a woman being raped and a raid -- an act of brigands.
Paris went off with plundered treasure, and a queen to boot. With Aphrodite's blessing, he made the queen his wife. But other bards, whose work has been lost, were not satisfied with such a humble explanation. They built up a cycle of epics telling the whole story of the war from the beginning. They described the origin of the affair ab ovo.
They accepted that Zeus wanted to decimate the human race which had become too numerous, and posited a whole series of events: This woman, Helen, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda; as Zeus had disguised himself as a swan to seduce his beloved, Helen and her brothers the Dioscuri were born ab ovo -- from an egg.
This explication of the whole episode entails several difficulties. The main question is the extent to which Helen accepted the fate assigned to her. Did she act of her own free will? It was not long before people wondered if she had followed Paris voluntarily. It is an important distinction. In the first instance it could be said that she was the occasion of the war, which makes her no less odious; in the second she was responsible for the war, and could thus be hated as a scourge, and also condemned on moral grounds.
Such condemnation became increasingly necessary in the eyes of the Greeks, who were developing a personal morality, but was ever less acceptable to those among them who saw Helen as a goddess. The immorality of religious myths shocked more than one right-thinking person in the fifth century BC.
In some towns, Sparta in particular, there were temples to Helen, feasts of Helen and a cult of Helen, who figured as the protectress of adolescent girls and young married women. It would be shocking if elsewhere she had set an example of adultery. And the closer we go towards presenting the story in human terms, the closer we come to the unacceptable. Aeschylus turned Helen into a being who was both abstract and divine, a sort of curse closely allied to the goddess Nemesis, -- who according to some traditions was her mother, and not Leda.
But Euripides saw his heroine purely as a woman; he did not even accept the possible intervention of Aphrodite to inspire Helen with an irresistible passion. Hecabe says so very forcefully in the Troades: How far is this psychological speech, which uses allegory, also an impious speech casting doubt on the existence of the gods?
It is not easy to say. In any case it is almost at the opposite pole from the chorus in Agamemnon where Aeschylus says of Helen that she is the Erinyes, the 'wife of tears' and 'the priest of Ate'; we are also a long way from the suggestion that Helen has a sort of divine mission, making her the instrument of fate: The virtual disappearance of the religious aspect of Helen that surrounded her with an aura of sacred terror laid her open to the most scathing insults.
People expressed amazement that the Trojan War should have been fought over such an unimportant creature -- a woman -- adding that the woman in question had absolutely no value because she herself had no sense of her own dignity. A fine assortment of insults could easily be garnered from Euripides. This tradition did not stop with him; at the height of the neoclassical period in Europe the name of Helen became a simple figure of speech, a metonym that could be used to designate any woman who was dangerous because she was flighty; in Schiller's Maria Stuart one of the queen's most persistent opponents can find no worse epithet for her than this: Euripides was alive at the time when sophistry was born.
No doubt he was as amused as anyone else by the idea of pleading lost causes. Gorgias and Isocrates each produced a eulogy of Helen. The tragic poet had shown them the way by putting a plea in the heroine's own mouth Troades ff. There is censure of the power of the gods, the origin of desire and the power of seduction: Or there is praise of beauty. From whatever angle it was approached it was not a comfortable morality: A philosophical dimension loomed. Homer was happy to concede that the Trojan populace felt ill-will towards Helen, but the finest Trojans, Priam, his advisers and Hector, found it impossible not to respect her.
At one point in the Iliad VI. Homer's successors never tired of pondering a parallel between Helen and Achilles. One of the poets of the epic cycle had proposed a meeting between the most beautiful daughter of Zeus and the most valiant of heroes. Much later it was imagined that these two marvellous beings were united beyond death on the fabled Isles of the Blessed. But Euripides had already pointed out Helen 99 that Achilles had been prominent among Helen's suitors, and that the Trojan War had been envisaged also with a view to allowing Achilles to distinguish himself op.
Paradoxically the concern to elevate Helen from the realm of sordid anecdote and restore her to an epic role, was to have the effect of casting doubt on the epic itself. Since it was vital that beautiful Helen should be virtuous, it was claimed that she had never been in Troy, that Zeus had put a phantom in her place or that a king of Egypt had snatched her from Paris to protect her.
About Helen of Troy
The second version, which was known to Herodotus, has had a long life: Wolf imagines that the Trojans pretended Helen was within their walls so as not to lose face. The first version also effectively makes Helen an object of derision, and again presents in an exaggerated form the bitter judgement so often repeated -- a woman was not a worthwhile cause for people to kill one another. Yet this was not the point of view expressed by Euripides, the poet supposed to hate women, in his tragedy Helen.
Not only does he depict her character in the same touching, majestic light as his Alcestis or his Polyxena in Hecabehe even extends the study of the sufferings of misrepresented innocence to a tragic interrogation of the identity of the person: Helen is a woman who has been robbed of her very name and face.
Saved because the gods finally proclaim the truth, she can rejoin or at least expect to rejoin the pleasant atmosphere of the feasts in Sparta I. No doubt he bore in mind that according to a tradition relayed by Plato Phaedrus a the poet Stesichorus had been blinded by the gods for speaking ill of Helen, recovering his sight only after reciting the Palinode a recantation.
It is impossible to know which of the two traditions Euripides was more committed to, that which he followed in his Helen or the other which is evident in the rest of his plays, where he attacks her as fickle, flirtatious and brazen. We can only note that other heroic characters were also depicted by Euripides in a none too favourable light: If Hecabe reproaches Helen, she does not spare Odysseus. Reading the great tragedies that conjure up the fall of Troy Traodes, Hecabe and to some extent Andromache as well we get the impression that the judicious balance that Homer's epic poems preserved between the two opposing sides has been upset, and certainly not in favour of the victors.
The legend also became degraded. Once seen as a divine scourge, Helen was now regarded as a hateful woman. Others merely adopted a light, frivolous, scornful tone when writing about her. How could we justify censuring those poets for whom Helen is perfectly and impudently at ease with her conscience, always supposing she has one? Her mythological birthplace was Sparta of the Age of Heroeswhich features prominently in the canon of Greek myth: The kings, queens, 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. 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. In order to earn his favour, Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. Swayed by Aphrodite's offer, Paris chose her as the most beautiful of the goddesses, earning the wrath of Athena and Hera.
Although Helen is sometimes depicted as being raped by Paris, Ancient Greek sources are often elliptical and contradictory. Herodotus states that Helen was abducted, but the Cypria simply mentions that after giving Helen gifts, "Aphrodite brings the Spartan queen together with the Prince of Troy.
Some say a host of horsemen, others of infantry and others of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth but I say, it is what you love Full easy it is to make this understood of one and all: However, Helen was sought by many suitors, who came from far and near, among them Paris who surpassed all the others and won the favor of Tyndareus and his sons.
Thus he won her fairly and took her away to Troia, with the full consent of her natural protectors. Homer narrates that during a brief stop-over in the small island of Kranaiaccording to Iliad, the two lovers consummated their passion. On the other hand, Cypria note that this happened the night before they left Sparta.
The Rape of Helen by Francesco Primaticcio c.