Paris of Troy

All posts tagged Paris of Troy

Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published July 15, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Guess I’ll pick up from last week’s Words Crush Wednesday.  So last week we had Achilles running like a scared rabbit, and this week we have him whining at the gods.  He’s not faring well this month.  (Heh.)

Book XXI of the Iliad, W. H. D. Rouse translation.

Then Peleides looked up to the heavens and groaned:

“O Father Zeus! to think not one of the gods has a little pity for me, to save me from this river!  After that I don’t care what happens.  But I cannot blame any of the host of heaven so much as my own mother, who cajoled me with falsehoods.  She said I should die by one of Apollo’s quick shafts under the walls of Troy.  I wish Hector had killed me, the best man born and bred in these parts!  Then a brave man would have killed, and a brave man would have died.  But now my fate is to die an ignominious death, caught in this river, like a boy from the pigsty who tries to cross a torrent in winter and drowns!”

His sheer sense of entitlement is off the scale.  It’s hard to get a grasp on it without the part I didn’t quote last week, where he was mouthing off to the river god, of course.  Because it’s not like the river just rose up in flood suddenly and without warning.  No, he purposefully pissed it off first.  So what was he expecting to happen?!  And then he seriously expects the gods to come down out of the skies and save him.

Wow.

It’s just, like, you know, who do you think you are?

The odd thing is that there’s only one other person in the Iliad who would seriously expect any gods to just pop up and save him, but Achilles never faces him in combat…except to die on one of his arrows, after the epic is over, that is.  None of the other Greeks would ever dare to expect any of the gods to save them–even Odysseus and Diomedes would never expect Athene to save them, though she frequently does so, especially during the Odyssey–and even Aeneas doesn’t go about demanding that Apollo or even his divine mother save him, despite that he’s frequently rescued by both of them and even once by Poseidon, even though he’s on the other side of the war.  But Alexander fully expects Aphrodite to step in and save him when he’s in trouble, just as Achilles here expects to be saved in this one instance of his meeting a foe he can’t slay with his spear.

If I was smarter, I’m sure there would be a thesis for a really good paper in that.  (Then again, I’m sure that in 2,000+ years of scholarship, that issue has been covered repeatedly and in great depth.  But probably not with my sense of irreverence.)

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Words Crush Wenesday: The Homeric Version

Published March 25, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, today’s Words Crush Wednesday quote is going to be a super-long one!  Because I’ve decided to do the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge (see link on side-bar) so starting next week, my quotes are going to have to be tied to the letter of the alphabet assigned to that particular Wednesday.  Most of them will still be from the Iliad, though.  (Unless I find a really great quote about Memnon in the book of Epic Fragments, since M falls on a Wednesday…)

Anyway, today I’ll be quoting the entire rest of the fight between Menelaos and Paris!  So get ready!  Last week, Paris had thrown his spear at Menelaos, and it had been harmlessly deflected by Menelaos’ shield.  Now for the rest of the fight, from Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation…

Menelaos had the second shot, and before he cast he made his prayer to Father Zeus:

“O Lord Zeus, grant vengeance upon Alexandros, who has wronged me unprovoked!  Bring him low by my hand, that many a man may shudder in long generations to come, at the thought of wronging a friend who shows him hospitality!”

He balanced the spear, and cast it, and struck the shield of Alexandros.  Right through the shield ran the stout spear, tore right through his corselet, and cut through the tunic along his side; but he swerved away from his death.  Then Atreides drew his sword, and stretching over struck the horn of the helmet; but the blade broke upon it in three or four splinters and fell from his hand.  Atreides groaned, and looked up to heaven crying:

“O Father Zeus, such an unkind god as you there never was!  You do spoil everything!  I did think I had paid out that scoundrel, and here is my sword broken in my hand, and my spear missed and never touched him!”

He made one leap and caught hold of the horsehair plume, turned and dragged Alexandros towards his own ranks; the helmet-strap choked him, pulled tight under his chen.  And Menelaos almost got him–a glorious victory it would have been!  But Aphrodite saw it and broke the strap, so all he got was the empty helmet.  He threw it over with a swing to his friends, and leapt back to kill his enemy with the spear; but Aphrodite carried him off in a thick mist, as a god can easily do, and put him down in Helen’s sweet-scented chamber.

Whew.  It takes something out of a girl, copying that much text out of a book.  It’s much harder than just typing out of your mind.  Anyway, for those who don’t know, Atreides is a patronymic meaning “son of Atreus.”  It’s often used to describe both Menelaos and Agamemnon, for times when their names don’t fit the meter.

I gotta say, I wonder what kind of horn that was on Alexander’s helmet that it was stronger than a bronze sword.  Must’ve been cut off some mythical beast or something.  (Perhaps a Hittite one, so that the divine justice of the Greek gods had no power over it?  Uh, yeah, okay, I’m way over-thinking this…but Troy was a Hittite vassal state!  Not that the classical Greeks had any idea that the Hittites had ever existed, mind you…)

If you want to know what happens next, well, while Menelaos is ranting and railing and demanding the return of his wife, as agreed and as the sworn oaths promised, Aphrodite decides it’s time for Helen and Alexander to have some time alone.  My first quote in this weekly event was Helen’s reaction to that idea.

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Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published March 18, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Here’s hoping I can type this.  I cut the tip of my finger on a sliver of glass (I shoulda known that shadow box was on clearance for a reason!) and it hurts like heck, especially whenever I apply pressure…and it’s hard not to do that when you’re typing, y’know?  (At least it seems to be done bleeding!  I was afraid I was going to get light-headed, it bled so much.)

Okay, so, it’s Words Crush Wednesday again, and we’re finally starting the duel between Menelaos and Alexander!  Even if I hadn’t hurt my finger, I don’t think I could have finished the duel this week, though.  ‘Tis a lengthy fight, mainly because Menelaos can’t do anything without giving a speech first.  (Neither can most of the other Greeks.)  Anyway, we’re still in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  In the stuff I skipped over, it was agreed that they’d draw lots to see who would throw his spear first, and the first throw went to Paris.

Now the two strode out into the middle, with grim looks that struck awe into all beholders.  They came to a stand in the measured space, shaking their spears at each other in defiance.  Alexandros first cast his spear; Menelaos caught it neatly upon the shield.  The spear did not break through the metal, but the point was bent.

And that’s just the beginning.  Really, despite what I said above, I ought to give the whole fight now–it’s only about a page long, and has no good stopping points–but my finger won’t let me.  I’ll do the rest of the fight next week.  I promise.

Oh, but just as a point of interest, the bit about the tip of Alexander’s spear?  In most of these duels in the Iliad, the tip of the spear penetrates the shield–Hector penetrated seven of the eight layers of the massive tower shield carried by Aias!–meaning that only by skill can the defender escape injury.  The fact that Menelaos’ shield was stronger than Alexander’s throw proves what a weakling he is compared to, well, pretty much every other warrior in the entire epic.

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Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published March 11, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Once more, it’s Words Crush Wednesday, and I’m still in the process of trying to quote one of my favorite parts of the Iliad, the duel between Menelaos and Paris.  (How long have I been building to this now?  Four or five weeks?  Maybe my quotes are too short.)  Last week, Paris, having been brow-beaten by Hector, finally agreed to fight Menelaos, but only if it was a one-on-one, formal duel, with Helen, her wealth (a very important point!) and the war itself at stake.  There are speeches about it as Hector proposes the duel to the Greeks, and as Menelaos gladly accepts, but (as promised) I’m skipping over those, as they don’t really add anything new to the proceedings, per se, apart from the need to have Priam come down and swear his oath that the duel will end the war.  I was going to skip straight to the duel now, but…I had to quote this part, because I really like it.  Still in Book III, still the W.H.D. Rouse translation.  As some set-up, Iris (messenger of the gods) has taken on the guise of one of Priam’s daughters.

Iris found Helen in her room.  She was weaving a great web of purple stuff, double size; and embroidering in it pictures of the battles of that war which two armies were waging for her sake.  Iris came up to Helen and said:

“Come along, my love, and see a wonderful sight!  They were all fighting in the plain like fury, and now all of a sudden they are sitting down, not a sound to be heard, no more battle, all leaning upon their shields, and their spears stuck in the ground!  But Alexandros and Menelaos are going to fight for you! and you are to be the wife of the winner!”

These words pierced Helen to the heart.  She longed for her husband of the old days, for home and family.  At once she threw a white veil over her, and left the house quickly with tears running down her cheeks.

This leads into the famous “Helen on the Wall” sequence, in which she identifies various of the Greek leaders for Priam and the Trojan elders.  I like some of that a lot, and may quote it later, but next week I really will move on to the duel itself, I promise.  I just had to quote this part in passing, because I love the fact that Helen regrets what’s happening, and at this point wants nothing more than to go home to her daughter and her true husband.  (Possibly also to her father; he may still be a live at this point.  Or rather, in some stories he definitely is, and in others it doesn’t come up.  I don’t think it comes up in the Iliad or the Odyssey, so I don’t know if Tyndareos was considered to be still alive in Homeric times.)

I’ve seen people talk about Helen weaving that tapestry and describe it as an act of vanity on her part, but that’s not how I see it.  I see it as her way of mourning all the good lives being cut short because of something she no longer has any power to stop.  In fact, she never really had any power to stop it, not in the Homeric version; the war was the will of the gods.  (In some of the Athenian tragedies, especially Euripides’ Trojan Women, that’s no longer the case.)

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You know, I think when I finally finish with this duel, I’m going to move on to passages that highlight the greatness of my two favorite Achaian champions:  Patroclos and Aias.  Particularly Patroclos.  He doesn’t get enough love (except from Achilles) and that needs to change!

Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published March 4, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Yep, it’s Words Crush Wednesday, and we’re still in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  Last week, Hector had just finished chewing Paris out for turning tail and running at the first sight of Menelaos.

Alexandros replied:

“That is true enough, Hector, that is true enough.  Your heart is always hard as steel.  Like a shipwright’s axe, when he slices off a spar from a tree with all the strength of a man!  A hard heart indeed!  Don’t taunt me with Aphrodite’s adorable gifts.  You can’t throw away a god’s gifts, offered unasked, which none could win by wishing.

“Very well now, if you want me to fight, make both armies sit down on the ground, and put me between them with Menelaos to fight for Helen and all her wealth.  Whichever proves the better man, let him take both wealth and woman home with him.  Then let both sides swear friendship and peace:  you to stay in Troy, they to go back to Argos, where there are plenty of fine women!”

Normally, I’d Anglicize Alexandros into Alexander, but I wanted to stick to Rouse’s transliterations.  I need to check some other translations, and see what they say where this one says “hard as steel” on account of steel is just an eensy weensy anachronism.  (Unlike an eensy weensy arachnid.  No, wait, that should be “itsy bitsy,” shouldn’t it?)  Anyway, when Alexander says “Argos” he really means “Greece”:  the Homeric texts use “Achaians”, “Danaans” and “Argives” interchangeably to refer to the Greek forces at Troy.  (Technically, they’re not so much “interchangeable” as they are required to fit the insanely demanding metric form.)  So in this case, he used Argos rather than Achaia or…actually, there isn’t a place name to fit “Danaan” and I don’t think Hellas is ever used to refer to Greece as a whole in the Homeric texts.  (Certainly its ethnic descriptor, Hellene, is only applied to a few groups in the Catalog of Ships, so it seems unlikely that Hellas would be used any more widely.)

Anyway, next week I’ll skip over the formalities and the oaths, and Helen on the wall (though I might come back to that later), and finally get to the meat of the duel…if it can really be called that.  LOL!

Ugh.  It’s already Wednesday, but I’ve only barely written the first draft of the paper due tomorrow…and I’m not sure I can bring myself to care enough to revise it tonight.  Plus I haven’t even started on tomorrow’s myth.  (Admittedly, that’s not actually important.  But it’s something I actually want to do, unlike that paper.  Besides, I’ve kind of been looking forward to trying to tackle Ixion.)  For that matter, I haven’t even gone back to my books to check if I screwed up last week’s myth.

Sigh.

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Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published February 25, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Last week on Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version, Hector was berating his handsome brother Paris for his cowardly ways.  Return with us now, to the wide plains before the gates of Troy, as we continue quoting from the Iliad, Book III, W.H.D. Rouse translation:

“Were you like this when you got your fine company and set sail over the sea, and travelled in foreign lands, and brought home a handsome woman?  She was to marry into a warlike nation, she was to be the ruin of your father and all his people, a joy to your enemies, a disgrace to yourself!  So you would not stand up to Menelaos?  You ought to find out what sort of fellow he is whose wife you are keeping.  There would be little use then for your harp and the gifts of Aphrodite, your fine hair and good looks, when you lie in the dust.  Well, the Trojans are all cowards, or you would have had a coat of stone long ago for the evil you have done!”

Hector doesn’t mince his words, eh?  (The translators usually add a footnote to point out that the “coat of stone” bit is Hector saying that if the Trojans had a little more courage, they would have stoned Paris (and possibly Helen?) to death.)

The bit about “She was to marry into a warlike nation” is intriguing to me:  when the poem was originally written, the Trojans were apparently considered more warlike than the Spartans, or so it would seem.

(No, I don’t know why I felt like prefacing the quote as if it was a TV show.)

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Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published February 18, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Internet at large, be grateful:  Words Crush Wednesday has just saved you from listening to (reading about?) me griping about how the extra cold night burst a water main on my street, so I had no water when I woke up, and had to rush out of the house without doing anything water-related, not even going to the bathroom.  Instead, you get the continuation of my extended quotation of the duel between Menelaos and Alexander in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  Where I left off last week, Alexander had just slunk away in terror at the sight of Menelaos…

Then Hector rated him with scorn:

“Damn you, Paris, you handsome woman-hunter, you seducer!  I wish you had never been born, I wish you had died unwedded!  Yes, I wish that! and it would have been much better than to be a public pest, a thing of contempt.  What guffaws there must be over there!  They thought you a prime champion because you are good-looking.  But there’s no pluck in you, no fight!”

This from one of the two nicest men in the entire poem, and Hector’s not done yet, let me tell you!  The crowning jewel of his speech is in the next paragraph; I’ll post it next week. (Oh, and it wasn’t entirely silly for Hector to talk about the enemy thinking that Alexander’s good looks equaled skill in battle:  the word kalos has a great number of meanings, especially “beautiful” but also “good” and “noble.”  Apparently, in ancient Greece, beauty and quality in all things were considered always to go hand-in-hand; hence Helen’s descriptions of the Greek leaders later in Book III calls every single one of them (except Odysseus) handsome, and the only Greek pointedly described as being ugly is Thersites, a mean-spirited fellow who gets his jollies by mocking everyone around him, particularly Achilles, Agamemnon and Odysseus.)

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Words Crush Wednesday – Homeric Version

Published February 11, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

This week’s Words Crush Wednesday picks up where the last one left off, as Menelaos had just spotted Paris across the battlefield.  Again, Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation.

But as soon as Alexandros saw him come out in front, his heart sank and he slunk back into the ranks to save himself.  He might have been some one walking through the woods who suddenly sees a snake, and jumps back all of a tremble pale with fear.  So Alexandros jumped back, and he slunk into safety.

Okay, that was a bit brief, but it was the end of the paragraph, and I’m doing a double post today because I have something else to post about that can’t wait until Friday. 😛

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Words Crush Wednesday – Homeric Version

Published February 4, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

In trying to decide what quote to use for this week’s Words Crush Wednesday, I found myself realizing that I actually wanted to quote about three or four pages of the opening of Book III.  Sooo…this week’s quote is actually before last week’s, and it’s going to connect together with next week’s, and the week after that’s, and however many weeks it takes before I feel I’ve quoted the heck out of this duel.  Because it’s really one of the greatest moments, like, ever.  So here it is, this week’s quote from the Iliad, Book III, W.H.D. Rouse translation.  (Again, using the translator’s name transliterations.  Though in this case the only difference is that I usually Anglicize Alexandros into Alexander.)

No sooner had the two armies come near than a champion stept out of the Trojan ranks, the noble Prince Alexandros.  A leopard-skin hung over his shoulders with bow and sword; he shook his two sharp spears, and challenged all comers to fight him man to man.  So he strode out with long steps.  Menelaos saw him with joy, as a lion spies a victim, when he is hungry and finds a horned stag or a wild goat:  greedily he devours his prey, even if dogs and lusty lads set upon him.  So Menelaos was glad when he set eyes on Alexandros, for he thought he was sure to punish the traitor; at once he leapt down from his chariot in his armor.

Hee hee…I can’t wait for next week, when I get to quote Paris’ reaction to Menelaos!  I laugh just thinking about it!

(In case you’re wondering about this week’s quote being from a different translation than last week’s, I own three different translations in hard copy, though one of them I have primarily because it’s got the Greek on the facing page.  (Some day, I hope to re-learn ancient Greek to the point where I can translate it myself to quote it.)  I also have a massive Kindle thing that has like five public domain translations.  But only one of those uses the Greek names for the gods, so most of them don’t count.)

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Starting the year right…

Published January 1, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

…blog-wise, by going back to my heartland.  That is, by talking about Greek myths.  The Trojan War, of course.  (It’s like a red letter day when it’s anything else, for the past year…well, almost a year.  A year minus two weeks, roughly.)

However, today’s is also different, ’cause today I want to talk about Helen.  Why she goes to Troy with Alexander/Paris is ultimately one of the biggest sticking points of the myth.  And by “sticking points” I more mean “hurdles on the track, which can trip the whole story and leave it flat on its face, unable to finish the race.”  It’s just that “sticking point” is more economical, in terms of number of words.

It seems like a lot of versions–even one of the earliest (technically, merely a reference (by Sappho), rather than a full telling)–insist that Helen went willingly out of love for Alexander/Paris.  That actually makes zero sense.  In fact, it makes negative sense.

Let me explain.  Helen is the Queen of Sparta.  (Actually, of Lacedaemon or Laconia, but Sparta is faster to type, so I’m going with that for this discussion.  And by that logic, I think I’ll start just calling him the later name Paris instead of the Homeric Alexander.)  And when I say she’s the Queen of Sparta, I mean it literally.  Not that she’s the “wife of the king”  but that she, herself, is the queen.  In other words, it’s her birthright to be the queen.  Menelaos only became king by marrying her.  So what the “she’s doing it for love” crowd are claiming is that she left behind the land of her birth, where the throne itself was her birthright, in order to move to a faraway kingdom (where, realistically, she wouldn’t speak the language or worship the same gods (though the myths themselves don’t reflect that)) where her beloved was only second in line to the throne.  So she’s sacrificing her royal birthright to be the foreign “bride” of a prince who has little chance of succeeding to the throne, given that his elder brother is a god among men, while Paris himself is a weakling.

Now let’s stop and look at a few other Greek queens in the same larger myth who decided that they didn’t love their husbands.  Clytemnestra spent years cavorting with Aigisthos until Agamemnon finally returned home, at which time they murdered him and then had their own wedding and settled in to rule Mycenae in peace.  (Until Orestes came home and killed them both, but that’s another story.)  Diomedes’ wife (sorry, I don’t remember her name) decided she didn’t love him, so she hooked up with a man from one of the other ruling families of Argos, and as soon as Diomedes returned home from the war, they drove him out of Argos, then ruled the city as husband and wife.  Clytemnestra’s case is complicated, but Diomedes’ wife’s case is open and shut.  Diomedes gained his throne by marrying her, so when she decided she wanted another husband, he was out of luck, out of wife, and out of home.  In other words, his position is exactly what Menelaos’ would have been if Helen simply fell in love with Paris; they would have driven him out of Sparta on his return from Crete.  Or, if Helen turned out to be more like her sister, they would have murdered him on his return.  Either way, her simply running away from Sparta–leaving behind her daughter as well as her homeland!–makes no sense.  If I had my reference books with me, I could come up with some more obscure cases that would parallel Diomedes’ pretty much exactly.  And probably a few that parallel Agamemnon’s, too.  (Though in most (or all) of those cases it would be the wife’s lover who did the killing, not the wife.  The fact that Clytemnestra herself took part in the murders was what really shocked them about the story.)

So, why did she go to Troy?  Well, that’s the big thing that every version has to decide on, isn’t it?  It’s easiest if you’re going to accept interference by the gods.  Then the gods made her go, in one way or another, for one reason or another.  That’s really the standard explanation, when one’s specifically given, in ancient times.  (There are exceptions, of course.  The Trojan Women of Euripides established that she went for reasons of lust and greed, and Sappho said she went for love, just to name two.)  The Iliad didn’t make a big deal of it, but it did have one small mention that did point out that Aphrodite’s gift to Paris made Helen unable to refuse him, thus explaining why she left with him, and moving the blame from Helen to Aphrodite.  The Cypria apparently told the story more fully, and made it even more clear that it was divine will that she go.

But how about if one wants to tell the story without the gods, or at least without allowing them much agency to interfere directly in the actions of humans?  Then, if you want it to make sense, there are only a few good explanations, and two of them specifically turn one side into the “good guys” and the other into the “bad guys.”

1)  This is one of the “taking sides” explanations.  Helen could have left with Paris if the Greeks specifically wanted an excuse to invade Troy.  In other words, Menelaos could have told her to elope with Paris as soon as his back was turned, in order to give him and Agamemnon an excuse to invade.  This is incompatible with Menelaos’ portrayal in most ancient works, of course, but that’s not really the point here; I’m just trying to outline the possible reasons a modern author could give Helen for her departure to Troy.  Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be Menelaos who gave her the order to elope:  it could have been Agamemnon, or Tyndareos could see Paris’ flirting with her as an opportunity for his sons-in-law to gain even more power and prestige, or it could even be Odysseus’ suggestion (via his wife, Penelope, perhaps, since she’s Helen’s cousin) or whoever.  Point is, one could make the Trojans out to be essentially blameless by making Helen a knowing tool literally out to cause a war.

2)  To take the other side, Paris could abduct her by force (in many tellings, Aineias goes with him to Sparta, and he’s actually a powerful warrior, unlike his cousin Paris), not so much for reasons of sexual desire, but for political or financial reasons.  Since Helen is the rightful queen, her husband is automatically King of Sparta.  He could attempt to seduce her in order to gain Menelaos’ throne, and when that doesn’t work, steal her by force, intending to coerce her into the union at his leisure, only to find that her husband isn’t willing to wait for Paris’ plan to work.  Or he could steal her for some other political scheme hatched by himself, one of his brothers, one of the Trojan elders, or even by the High King in Hattusa.  (The real Troy was, after all, a Hittite vassal state.)  As a way to make the Greeks out to be blameless, this is a version unlikely to be used by any modern author.  (Except maybe if they’re Greek?)

3)  Helen could go with Paris specifically because she alone wants to foment war between the Greeks and the Trojans.  In most versions–though not all, as there’s no indication in Homer of the story–Helen was abducted by a horny, widowed Theseus when she was a young girl, and her brothers Castor and Polydeuces chased after them with the entire Spartan army, conquering Attica to get her back.  (This is why the King of Athens during the Trojan War is Menestheus rather than Theseus or one of his sons.  The Dioscuri put Menestheus, a friend of theirs as well as a member of a branch of the Athenian royal family, on the throne while they were at it.)  Having once before caused a war by being abducted, Helen would know that her departure to Troy would lead to another war over her, so that could be her real motivation, though exactly why she would want to cause a war would depend on the modern writer’s goals.  (Credit where credit’s due, this one isn’t my idea.  My professor was the one who suggested it, but it makes perfect sense.  It’s heartless, yes, but at least the logic of it is sound, unlike the “she’s doing it for love” version.)

4)  Helen runs off with Paris not because she wants to be married to him, but because she wants to reach Troy for other reasons.  For example, maybe she’s decided that she actually hates men, and wants to be an Amazon.  Troy is much closer to Scythia (where the historical women who inspired the tales of Amazons came from) so she could hope to escape from Troy and join the Amazons.  Or maybe she has some other reason for needing to be in Anatolia:  a prophecy to fulfill, a treasure to seek, a cure for some mystical plague, foretellings of doom if she remains in Greece, there are countless possibilities for whatever the modern storyteller might want.  This version can make not only the Greeks and Trojans out to be essentially blameless as instigators of the war, but can also salvage Helen’s own reputation, if her reasons are right, so it ought to be a modern writer’s go-to logic for Helen’s departure, and yet I doubt it’s seen much (if any) use.

Despite all these versions that would actually work, I have a feeling that if I did a survey of all Trojan War novels, movies and so forth of the last hundred years, I suspect that all (or almost all) of the versions that avoid or reject the intervention of the Greek gods in mortal affairs would go with some variation on the “love” version that doesn’t actually make a lick of sense.  I hope I’m wrong about that, but I fear I’m not.

(Admittedly, my own novel, Ilios, does not do anything groundbreaking in that regard, either.  But that’s because I wanted to follow the myths, so I had Aphrodite send Eros to blind her with one of his arrows.  It still doesn’t make sense, but at least she’s literally out of her head, so it doesn’t need to make sense.  Or not as much sense, anyway.)

So what’s my point?  Mostly, my point is “c’mon, guys, let’s see some creativity here!”  If you’ve gotta muck about with the myths, at least do it in a manner that’s gonna be interesting and make at least some sense.

Rose B. Fischer

Author. Artist. Evil Genius.

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