Mythology

Who Was Helen of Troy in Greek Mythology?

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The Trojan War is one of those events in Greek Mythology that seems to also be based on an event that really happened. Homer immortalized the war in his epic poem, the Iliad. However, archaeologists have determined that Troy is also a real place, which means that it is possible that a war of that scale did take place there. The mythological figures in that story are also legendary in their own way. However, it was Helen of Troy who is said to have started it all. Here’s a look at who Helen of Troy was in relation to this Greek mythological tale:

Early Life of Helen of Troy

According to Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey, Helen was the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Leda, who was the daughter of the King of Sparta, Menalaus. In the stories, it is said that Zeus took the form of a swan and when he was chased by an eagle, he sought refuge with Leda. Leda admired the swan’s beauty, and the two mated. When the two were paired together, they created the beautiful daughter, Helen. However, other stories have a different version of her birth story. In these version, Helen is actually the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods, and Nemesis, a goddess.

Helen’s Many Suitors

One of the most intriguing things about Helen of Troy is that her beauty is said to have been legendary. Not only did she have many suitors, but it is her beauty that appears to have caused the Trojan War. When Helen became of an age to marry, suitors from all over the ancient world came to her in an effort to win her affections. Even the hero Theseus was captivated by her beauty! In one version of her story, she was abducted by Helen when she was only a child. When she got older, she had a lot more suitors including Ajax, Alephanor, Menalaus, who became her husband, Odysseus, and Protesilaus. Once she was already married, we do know that Paris from Troy also took a liking to her.

Paris Decides to Seduce Helen

Not only did Helen have several suitors, but her beauty was legendary throughout the ancient world, even amongst those who weren’t trying to win her affections. When Paris, a Trojan prince, learned about her, he knew that he wanted to seduce her and make her his own. So, he traveled to Sparta where she lived with her husband, King Menalaus, so that he could do just that. Paris was young and good looking, and he enlisted the gods for help in wooing her. However, his mission was to be ill-fated. Because he declared that Aphrodite was the most beautiful goddess when he acted as judge during a contest (she had promised him Helen to bribe him), this angered the rest of the goddesses. When Paris took Helen away from Sparta and back to Troy, this started the Trojan War where ultimately, the Greeks were victorious.

Sources:

Wikipedia – Helen of Troy

Wikipedia – Troy

Wikipedia – Paris (mythology)

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com

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