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Helen of Troy, The Beauty Who Sparked the Trojan War

March 16, 2019 - General
Helen of Troy

In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy is known as the woman whose beauty sparked the Trojan War.  But Helen’s character is more complex than it seems.  When considering the many Greek and Roman myths that surround Helen, from her childhood to her life after the Trojan War, a layered and fascinating woman emerges.

Helen is among the mythical characters fathered by Zeus.  In the form of a swan, Zeus either seduced or assaulted Helen’s mother Leda.  On the same night, Leda slept with her husband Tyndareus and as a result gave birth to four children, who hatched from two eggs. 

Leda and the Swan

“Leda and the Swan” by Cesare da Sesto, copy of lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1515-1520). Image source.

From one egg came the semi-divine children, Helen and Polydeuces (who is called Pollux in Latin), and from the other egg came the mortals Clytemnestra and Castor.  The boys, collectively called the Dioscuri, became the divine protectors of sailors at sea, while Helen and Clytemnestra would go on to play important roles in the saga of the Trojan War.

In another, older myth, Helen’s parents were Zeus and Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance.  In this version, too, Helen hatched from an egg.

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Source: origins

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