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

“A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.”

Leda and the Swan – W.B. Yeats

Greek Mythology is one of my favorite subjects to discuss, especially when it comes to revealing the Gods most selfish moments. Women in Greek stories are described as being beautiful, desirable, and lusted after. Sometimes, they are so admired by the Gods, they end up becoming seduced with lies, trickery, magic, and kidnapping. Interestingly enough, ZEUS, yes Zeus, is at the top of the list of being a man whore. Sorry not sorry, but it is true! Outside of his marriage to Hera, Zeus has hooked up with: Antiope, Callisto, Danae, Europa, Electra, Leto, Taygete, Niobe, Io, Semele, Themis, Mnemosyne, Demeter and Alcmene. Out of this list, 3 of them were raped by Zeus. Alcmene, who was deceived with the disguise of her husband, Callisto in the middle of her sleep, and of course, the main subject of today’s post, Leda, who was enraptured with a swan-like Zeus. This particular story is one that is made reference to in all kinds of texts and paintings; from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Vigil’s Aeneid, and Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, writers from around the word have represented the importance of their relationship, seeing as Leda and Zeus produced some of the most well known offspring.

So let’s get into the tale:

Leda was the daughter of Thestinos, who was the King of Pleuron. Her father decided that when Leda turned of age, he would arrange her marriage with King Tyndareus of Sparta (btw, having an arranged marriage would totally suck). Leda’s beauty was something that many people obsessed about all across the world. Her beauty is said to have been so striking, that her perfect face and body grasped the attention of the lustful Zeus. He first noticed Leda while sitting upon his throne in Mount Olympus, and for weeks he stalked her every move from the sky, trying to ignore the arousal he felt when creepily spying on her.

Eventually, Zeus could stand it no longer and took it upon himself to deceive Leda in the form of a swan. Leda, who was enjoying a lounging evening on the banks of the river Eurotas, saw a white swan swimming alone in the river. She admired the swan and watched it spread its wings for attention. Suddenly, an eagle swooped down in a attempt to snatch the swan, and the swan AKA horny Zeus, swam towards Leda for protection, where she held the bird and comforted it with her arms. In the midst of this closeness, Zeus, in the form of this “scared swan,” then stroked her with his feathers and eventually sexually assaulted/seduced Leda, impregnating her with his seed. Later that night, Leda realized the Gods deception and guilt over took her, considering the fact that Zeus forced her into adultery. Leda then laid down with her husband, Tyndareus, and they too had sex and she also became impregnated on the same day. WTF

When it came time for Leda to give birth, she bore two eggs {HOLD UP LOL}. Within each egg held two children. The first two, Helen (Helen of Troy), and Polydeuces (Pollux is his nickname) belonged to Zeus, and the second egg hatched Castor and Clytemnestra, which belonged to Tyndareus. These four children all have a significant impact in Greek mythology, each with their own story and down falls. Outside of the fact that Zeus raped Leda, the positive was the offspring that came from it. Tyndareus never once questioned Leda about the birth of all four children. He raised them and loved them all equally.

There are some arguments about whether Leda was really raped or if she caved to the pleasure of Zeus. Though, in my opinion, Zeus definitely coerced Leda without her consent; whether it felt good or not is besides the point. I have found in many stories, particularly mythology, women are treated like objects to be captured or used, especially related to sex. I suppose men just can’t keep it in their pants, not even the Gods, when it comes to a beautiful and powerful woman. I think one reason that a lot of stories include sexual defamation is because it allows a sense of corruption to penetrate the plot (oh, the pun). I also find it interesting that the Gods are always doing this, almost like a sense of weakness where humanity is pulling at their core causing them to commit a heightened act of lust.

Does this story change your view point of Zeus? Do you look at him as a monster now, or do you still deem him to be just a badass God who gets to do whatever he wants? Ultimately my heart hurts for Hera the most… Oh, and did I mention, she ALSO was raped by Zeus, AFTER SHE TURNED DOWN HIS FIRST MARRIAGE PROPOSAL? Yeah. She was trapped into that relationship, BIG time. On top of that, she got to watch her serial cheating husband go around and rape/love on other women. Hence, why Hera is so known for her jealously. It is almost like Zeus and Hera would play this sick game of trying to one up the other, causing all kinds of drama within Greek society. Sigh. Why are the God’s so selfish? Explain your thoughts in the comment section below.

Anyway, I hope this story taught you something today. I know for me, I will never look at a swan the same again. Or Zeus for that matter.

Catch yall on another day ❤

*The following short story relays the origin of red roses within Greek Mythology*

The fire cracked softly in the dim lit room, where rows of books filled towering shelves that touched the tips of the ceiling. The wood floor danced in the glow of the heat and before the hearth laid a burgundy rug, with two leather tufted chairs and a nearby round table.

And upon the center of the rug, stood Tessa, staring heavily into the orange hue.

Her heels hung limply between her fingers, and her satin gold dress pooled in waves around her bare feet. Light sounds of music from the ballroom hummed through the walls of the study, and Tessa knew that she shouldn’t have left early, but it was the only way she could keep herself together. She just needed a minute. One minute to breathe. One minute to try and wrap her head around her new engagement. Her now soon-to-be betrothed. Her “said” destiny.

A swirl of panic seeped into her mind as she mulled over the recent order of events set up by their families. An arranged marriage to William. A surprise proposal. The pressure to accept. A ball to celebrate. And James.

James.

The rattling turn of the doorknob made Tessa jump, so she quickly wiped her eyes of any remnants of mascara.

“I’ll be just a sec—” Her voice caught in her throat, when she beheld the man who stood in the thick door frame. He wore a matte black tie and a solid black suit that hugged every inch of his strong body. A wistful look cast across his face when he took Tessa in with his green eyes.

“I hear congratulations are in order.” James said sarcastically and strode across the wood floor to close the space between the two of them, all while holding his arms behind his back.

“What are you doing here? How did you even get in?” Tessa stammered with surprise. “Did the guards see you?” She dropped her heels onto the plush rug and tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear.

James, now a mere three steps away, stopped walking and brought forth a single, long stemmed white rose from behind his back. “Have I ever told you about the myth of a red rose?” James twirled the flower between his fingers.

“Are you kidding me right now?” Tessa rattled out a tight reply and glanced at the door over James’ shoulder. You shouldn’t be here.

“Humor me.” He smiled a wicked smile, one that would bring any girl to their knees. Tessa cleared her throat, shaking the thought from her mind and hesitantly gestured for him to continue.

“Now, you see Tessa, according to Greek mythology, the red rose was created by none other than the beautiful Aphrodite, the Goddess of love.” James continued to twirl the white rose gently, admiring the shape of its pedals as he spoke. “It is told that Aphrodite fell in love with Adonis, son of Myrrah and Theia and he was obsessed with hunting.” He took a small step on the burgundy rug.

“Aphrodite had forewarned Adonis multiple times not to hunt animals that are not fearful, but he did it anyway, and in the end, it cost him his life. Ares, the Olympic God of war and former x-lover of Aphrodite, disguised himself as a boar, and killed Adonis out of pure jealousy.” James looked up from the rose and held Tessa’s gaze intently.

Tessa nervously shifted her weight, and broke eye contact. “So, where does the red rose come into this?” She breathed.

“Well.” James lowered the white rose by his side, “In an effort to save Adonis from death, Aphrodite sprinted through the woods with the hopes of stopping Ares. While she ran, she accidently cut herself and her blood is said to have splashed upon a white rose, turning it red, and fashioned the first red rose.” James took another small step forward and ran his right hand through his brown hair.

“Interesting.” Tessa’s back tensed with how close the two of them were. She longed to touch him but knew she couldn’t.

“But, if the story of a red rose is so important, why do you have a white rose?” She looked up into his face this time and waited patiently for his response. With the fire popping in the mists of silence, he took a breath and spoke carefully.

“A red rose, is of course, special.” He raised the rose again and admired it. “Representing the meaning of love and adoration. But a white rose.” James placed the rose against Tessa’s left arm and slowly traced it down toward the inside of her elbow.

“A white rose, is the beginning and the end.” His voice grew delicate. “A white rose is eternal love. Everlasting. Something that cannot be tarnished.”

Tessa’s eyes watered with tears, as James lifted the rose and stroked it down her cheek. “A white rose is a memory that will never be forgotten.”

James.” Tessa reached for his hand but received the stem of the rose instead. James turned and walked back toward the door from whence he came.

The shadows of the night followed his steps until he stopped to speak over his shoulder. “And Tess.” His voice was gruff and low. “A white rose was first. I was first.” He paused and squeezed his fist, “I loved you first. Now. Always.” He paused once more and waited. Waited for a reaction. A sign. A plead. James wanted her to chase him through the woods. Needed her too.

Though nothing. Not a sound echoed off her lips.

So, James, stepped into the empty hall, and quietly, closed the door behind him.

And that’s when Tessa, with her white rose, crumbled upon the floor and broke… because deep down, she wanted him to be her last.

Have you ever laid restlessly in your bed, with the covers pulled up to your neck, listening to all the things that go bump in the night? Every tick, every fan swirl, even the soft knocks you hear in the subtle shift of your walls? You feel a presence, like something is watching you, yet you cant see a damn thing, let alone your own hand in front of your face. The tension has filled the room and your waiting. For what exactly? You’re not sure, but its freaking you the F out.

This “presence” you feel could be chalked up to be “absolutely nothing” or your imagination “playing tricks on you,” but we all know that other worldly creatures loom in the darkness of your bedroom corner. So, what is it? In many stories across the globe, people describe tons of creatures, demons, and sprites that torture them in the night; The Tokoloshe is no exception.

In Zulu mythology, South Africans have blamed the Tokoloshe (Toe-kohl-osh) for the unexplained tortures of humans. The small gremlin like water sprite is considered to be very hairy, gray in color, with empty eye sockets. Why? Oh, you know, because the Tokoloshe was created out of a DEAD CORPSE. Yes, you read that right. The Tokoloshe isn’t just a normal creature that goes about his business, no. He is created by none other than a witch. How? Ill tell you.

Now, nobody knows the exact ritual in creating a Tokoloshe because most witches remain anonymous, but it is believed that women of the dark arts possesses a dead corpse, gouges out the eyes to take away the soul that once inhabited it, and then a hot poker is used to create a crater in the front of the skull; obviously to fill the creature with its objective of torture, commanded by the witch. And then after some crazy chanting and sprinkling of herbs, the original, human body, shrinks into a what we know as the Tokoloshe (weird, I know). Interestingly enough, this Zulu magic, is almost a rare combination of Voodooism and possession.

Once a Tokoloshe is made and summoned, the witch will dedicate the little fur ball’s life to reeking havoc on the one who wronged them. Divorce, sickness, and death are the creatures favorites. Unfortunately, children are the only humans who can see them in the flesh, so we adults are screwed. The only way a Tokoloshe can hide themselves or “disappear” is by swallowing a small pebble or drinking water (UM, Gremlins movie? water is BAD). BUT, if you do happen to see one, DO NOT acknowledge it. Though they cant see, their other senses are heightened to find their prey. And they WILL find you.

If you decide you need protection from the Tokoloshe, a lot of South Africans would place bricks under the legs of their beds to keep the creature from climbing upon their chests in the night to strangle them. The Tokoloshe is not the best climber, so the higher the bed, the safer you are. Better start collecting those bricks outside your house.

Other than the fact that the Tokolshe is an aloof, scary, night murderer, I wanted to compare this creature to some of the famous ones we always see in fictional stories and movies. Where would fantasy fiction be without its monsters and evil critters? Multiple authors do research on the daily to find new and refreshing ideas of beasts they can plug into their plots as well as fears that they can instill within the depth of a foggy forest or the endless black space under the bed. We have to have weirdness within our writing. Do you really think J.K. Rowling made up every single creature from the top of her head? Absolutely not. She researched, evolved, morphed, and then created her own.

So, my advice to aspiring writers is, research. Research until your eyes pop out… or let a witch cut them out, whichever you see fit. (again, with the puns)

In the comment section, tell me if you have heard of this mythological creature before. Or better yet, tell me about a nightly encounter that scared you beyond your wits. Happy sleeping ❤

The first tarantula stared at me from the ground and pounced with the utmost strength upon my right arm. I’m paralyzed; my muscles tight with my jaw clenched. Don’t move, don’t breathe, don’t think. A second, a third, a fourth, bound and latch onto my legs, my shoulders, my hips. A tight shrill rises in my throat, but the sound wont come out through my pressed teeth. I’m screaming in my head, my lips stretched and my neck taut, covered in bulging veins. I can’t breathe. Redness travels the course of my cheeks into my blood shot eyes, and then, I feel it. The fangs. I’ve been bitten. I’m done for, I’m dyi–

And I wake up, tangled in sheets, literally covered in sweat from head to toe. Holy fudgeee, this morning was NOT the nicest way to wake up to my alarm, and NO I did not make this dream up. Needless to say, my google search of “spiders in dreams” led me to my next mythological story; Arachne the Weaver.

Arachnid’s have been used in multiple forms of books and movies since one can recall. Some of the most famous examples being Harry Potter’s Aragog, The Lord of the Rings, Shelob, The Silmarillion’s, Ungoliant, Alice and the Looking Glass, The Gnat, and of course Charlotte’s Web. Other authors, such as George R.R. Martin and Dante Alighieri, as well as artists like Gustave Dore (art displayed above) and Salvadore Dali, have all used a form of the arachnid to propel their work.

So, where does the influence come from? Where did these liberal artists get their inspiration? None other than the Greek myth, Arachne the Weaver. Apart from the ROMAN story of Arachne, expanded upon in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, the Greek tale is extremely similar in essence (besides the usage of their names, which are always confusing AF). Let’s review the myth in warp speed:

Arachne is the name of a young, HUMAN woman, who is extremely talented in the art of spinning and weaving tapestries. She studied beneath the goddess Athena, to learn her trade, and man was she good at it. Word had spread across the land that Arachne was a badass weaver and Athena became jealous of this fact. So, she decided to challenge Arachne to a weave-off.

Now, Archne had let a lot of this attention go to her head, so she demonstrated her ‘15 seconds of fame‘ by creating a tapestry that resembled the God’s mistreatment of humans [like when Zeus pretended to be a swan and raped Leda, smh]. Within moments of Athena viewing Arachne’s tapestry, she grew FURIOUS, not because Arachne’s work was flawless but because it was strident and embarrassing. Athena destroyed Arachne’s work and bitched her out SO bad, that Arachne took it upon herself to hang from a tree to die. Needless to say, Athena realized that Arachne’s talents could not be lost and decides to bring her back to life in the form of a spider, so that she can spend the rest of her days weaving beautiful webs.

And this my friends, is where we get the Greek term, “Arachnid” which stems from the name “Arachne” meaning Spider.

Does anyone else find it ironic that Arachne hangs herself..? Just like a spider that hangs from a web? *sigh*

The Gods are filled with hubris.

Now, other than my short scaled version of the Myth of Arachne, id like to share a interesting snippet of my google search related to my horrendous dream this morning. I googled it on the way to work. Made me reflect… and also pray I never dream of spiders AGAIN. Now, enjoy, and also, tell me about one of your own terrible dreams. I’d love to hear them in the comment section below.