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 ❤