Friday, 07 September 2007

Helen of Troy, Why did her face launch a thousand ships?

Who was Helen of Troy and why did her face launch a thousand ships?
The whole story began as a result of a fight between three Greek goddesses. Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They were guests at a wedding, and, an uninvited Goddess, Eris, gate crashed the party. (She was the Goddess of Discord). She threw an apple of gold amongst the guests that had been inscribed with the words “ A gift for the fairest of all”.
As we know all these Goddesses were very, very beautiful and there was no consensus as to who should get the apple. They appointed Paris, the son of the King of Troy to decide. Each of the goddesses promised him wonderful things to influence his decision. In the end it was Aphrodite who walked away with the apple, after promising Paris the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.
This woman was Helen. The problem was that she was a Greek, married to King Menelaus of Sparta. Anyhow, with Aphrodite backing him up, he went to Greece to visit Helen, and she fell in love with him, as promised by Aphrodite. The happy couple disappeared to Troy. This pissed king Meneaus off. He called upon all the Greek Kings to help him avenge this terrible deed, and a thousand ships sailed to Troy to bring her back. The Trojans were ready for them, and it took 10 years to conquer the city, even with Brad Pitts help.
King Meneaus ordered that he alone would chop Helens head off, but went he found her, her beauty overcame him, and he took her home. (Most probably told him she was sorry and it would never happen again.).
This is the “oldest” version as written by the Greek Philosophers. There are a number of more “modern” versions.
Some say Helen had nothing to do with the decision, and that the war was there for wars sake and she was an excuse. It is also said that the whole fiasco was as a result of male egos.
What is strange is that there are virtually no “images” of Helen to be found.
This image I found at Wikipedia.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot.
I listened to "If",song of Bread,
and found a line "if a face can launch a thousand ships...."

So your story help me a lot.
Although i have to try to understand (I'm Thai.),
i appreciate this.

Danielle Menouhos said...

Thabkyou so much! Who had those differing opinions though? Scholars? Ancient Poets? I need to know for my asingnment.