Helen of Troy

Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships/
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

– Christopher Marlowe – Dr. Faustus

Oh, all is fair in love and war… or is it? I’ve been saving this story for a while now and wanted to write it during the Christmas break, BUT life seemed to get in the way and derailed me from my somewhat consistent blog posts. Deepest apologies friends. Now, to the point! Everyone in the world (for the most part) has certainly heard about the infamous Helen of Troy and the wonder that is her beauty. If you have no idea who I am talking about, ill fill you in with a brief list. Are you ready?

  1. Helen is Married to King of Sparta
  2. Falls in love with Paris
  3. Runs away to Troy
  4. Trojan war activated
  5. Troy destroyed.

Yikes… all because of a girl? Hm, not quite.

There have been plenty of arguments that Helen was a whore, a selfish slut, or my personal favorite, a hussy. THOUGH, have you ever questioned how any of her situation came into being? We relate to the fact that Helen was the pure cause in the downfall of Troy. As opinionated as this may be, I find Helen to be a small pawn in a much larger game. Why do I think this? Well, let me share:

Have you ever heard of the Judgement of Paris? Probably not, because I didn’t either lol. According to Greek myth, Zeus was pressed by three of the most known goddesses, *Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite* to answer the question “who is the fairest of them all?” {Snow white vibes all over it}. Zeus could not make a decision, so he decided to choose a mortal male to judge this competition. Lo and behold, he chose Paris, prince and son to the King of Troy. Paris was given a golden apple to present as a reward for the goddess he deemed the fairest. In an effort to judge their beauty, Paris had all 3 goddesses strip nude, to inspect their bodily forms (of course he did, smh). Each goddess enticed Paris with bribery: Hera offered kingship, Athena offered military success, and Aphrodite offered love from the most beautiful woman alive. Paris, decided upon Aphrodite as the winner; que downlights. This, ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the lovely Helen of Sparta, famously known as Helen of Troy.

Helen had been promised and married to the Spartan King, Menelaus, by her fake father and biological mother (remember, Zeus is her real daddy. He raped Leda, her mother). Helen’s older sister, Clytemnestra, had been married to the older brother of Menelaus, AKA Agamemnon, so the union of the two younger siblings was fitting for the futures of both their families. You can see why the controversy of Helen and Paris is befitting because Paris arrives in Sparta on a “diplomatic mission,” only to retrieve his promise from Aphrodite that the most beautiful woman would love him. Paris and Helen’s love story is widely known as passionate obsession and filled with tragedy. The couple is definitely a representation of the archetype star-crossed lovers. Interestingly enough, there are two versions of Helen falling for Paris: one explains that Helen was shot with an arrow by Cupid, to make her fall in love with Paris, and the other says she willingly left with him. I guess we will never know. Regardless, this couple broke a lot of rules to be together, like adultery, vows, and honor.

Paris convivences Helen to run away with him to the City of Troy, where he demands his family to accept her as Helen of Troy. His brother, Hector, is completely against this concept of love and foresees the hardships that are about to be brought down upon Troy by the couples betrayal. Now, I know what you’re thinking, how could it NOT be Helen’s fault for starting the war? Technically she didn’t. Behind it all, Zeus secretly wanted to cause the end to the Age of Hero’s, so obliterating Troy was the beginning step to this process. Zeus shaped a plan to unravel in his favor, while watching his smaller pawns do all of the work and also take all the blame for their innocent mortal emotions. This was pre-destined. Menelaus, determined to find and get his wife back from Paris, set out with his fleet of ships to the shores of Troy where a 10 year war ensues. Menelaus eventually demands a warriors duel in claiming the rights to the gorgeous Helen, to put a rest to the madness.

Long story short, Paris chickens out in the duel and breaks the accords by choosing a bow & arrow as his weapon. Menelaus laughs at him and pretty much pummels him into the ground, where Aphrodite intervenes on behalf of Paris and saves his ass LOL. Unfortunately, this deception propels the war even further rather than ending it. Many died in the process, such as Hector, Achilles, and yes, Paris. Helen and Paris are ripped from each other with death. She is devastated, and even tries to beg Paris’s first wife (which he left for Helen) to heal him. Oenone is bitter and does not revive him, allowing his slow death to consume him. Since the war is past the half way point, Helen is taken under the wing of Paris’s brother, Deiphobus, and he marries her in order to keep the family honor intact. Eventually, the sack of Troy with the constructed Trojan Horse penetrates their forces and Deiphobus is killed and Helen captured.

Poor Helen is now back in the hands of her original husband, where he plans to smite her for her love affair. Luckily for Helen, upon the raise of Menelaus’ sword, he realized he could not cut down such a beautiful being. He forgives her and takes Helen back to Sparta, where they end up living a very harmonious life together until they die.

There are SO many other subplots I could delve into with the Trojan war, but I will have to save those for another post. What I wanted to show in talking about Helen, is that YES she did flee with her lover. YES she broke a lot of rules for love. YES she is the face of the sack of Troy. BUT… she is not the sole reason. Zeus, the goddesses, and even Paris are all to blame equally. I feel bad for Helen’s reputation, seeing as she did not have a say in her own choices as a woman. Whether she was truly shot with a cupid arrow and tricked into love, or whether she was lonely and following her heart, from the VERY beginning, she did not get to choose her husband. Menelaus was thrust upon her, and she was used as a decoy to cover up the God’s true ambitions, forever blamed as the woman who burned a city for her own selfishness.

Who says a woman SHOULDNT be selfish? We deserve a voice. Either in love or not, we do. Paint her as you wish, though to me, she will never be considered the complete reason thousands of people died. She did not ask to be beautiful, nor did she ask for men to fawn all over her. I feel sorry that Helen and Paris did not get to have a life filled with more than a few years. Their love story overall is a hideous tragedy that I am sure haunted her for years after Paris had passed on. It’s interesting how many different loves a person can experience in their life time. I would deem the love between Paris and Helen to be a wickedly passion-filled whirlwind. Something you purely cannot ignore or dismiss… they did not have a choice.

She did not have a choice.

This brings me to the conclusion of my Helen of Troy rant. I hope you learned something today, and I appreciate you all! Leave a comment below on your portrayal of Helen. What do you think?

*PS* Watch the Movie Troy if you’ve never seen it. Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom = MAJOR DROOL

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