Lady Come Down: The Eastern Wandering of Helen, Paris, and Menelaus

Helen’s Fatal Attraction and its Inversion

2016.05.03 | By Leonard Muellner The ritual roles of Helen in the performance of poetry for lament and initiation, both within the epic and in Spartan cult outside it, complement and enrich the picture of Helen’s poetic perspective in the 6th rhapsody of the Iliad. A Muse playing a lyre. Detail from Greek vase housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, 440–430 BCE. Photo by Bibi Saint-Pol (own work, 2007-02-10) [Public domain], via… Read more

Helenos and the Polyphyletic Etymologies of Helen

2016.05.03 | By Guy Smoot Linguists are wont to think of words as monocellular organisms that can be traced back to single ancestors via mitosis: to every word supposedly corresponds a single etymology. I argue, however, that this traditional model, which can be labeled “monophyletic,” does not always work in the collectively-negotiated and orally-transmitted field of mythology. The polysemic potential of a mythonym can precisely be a decisive factor for… Read more

Helen of Troy: Unwomanly in Her Sexuality

2016.05.03 | Darah Vann Though Simone de Beauvoir has forced us to question what makes a woman, the ancient Greeks thought that they knew the answer. There was no separation of sex from gender, and the idea of the female body was thought of solely in comparison to the male body.[1] Nevertheless, in Classical Greek popular culture, including theater and the oral traditions of the Iliad and Odyssey, one is… Read more

Helen of Sparta and her very own Eidolon

2016.05.02 | By Gregory Nagy Recovery of Helen by Menelaus. Attic black-figure amphora, ca. 550 BCE. Staatliche Antikensammlungen. Photo: [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons. Introduction §0. In Classical Inquiries 2016.02.18, I analyzed a scene in the Homeric Odyssey where Telemachus finds himself transported into a kind of “Mycenaean heaven” while visiting the palace in Sparta where Menelaos lives together with Helen as his wife. And I argued that the picturing of… Read more

Helen’s mixed feelings for Alexander in Iliad 3: the cognitive, pragmatic, and emotional significance of third-person pronouns

2016.05.02 | By Anna Bonifazi Aphrodite (left) and Helen (right). Detail of an Attic red-figure crater, ca. 450–440 BCE, found in Gnathia (now Egnazia, Italy). In Bonifazi 2012:34–38 I discuss Helen’s speech to Aphrodite in Iliad 3 (399–412), with a particular focus on how Helen recalls Alexander. Aphrodite has just rescued Alexander in a duel against Menelaos, and places him in his bedroom (380–382). Then the goddess restores him to… Read more

A modern eidōlon of Helen

2016.05.02 | By Emily G. Shanahan For this rendering of Helen, I focused heavily on impressions gleaned from Euripides’s tragic play Helen, rather than better-known representations from Homer. My goal was to illustrate the magical effect she has on those around her, rather than a historically accurate reconstruction. The background of the image is an explicating speech Helen gives at the beginning of the work, lines 22–48. I chose this… Read more

Hélène et le chant rituel : « mythe » et performance poétique en Grèce archaïque (une perspective anthropologique)

2016.05.01 | By Claude Calame Nel vasto tesoro dei miti il poeta sceglieva di volta in volta la leggenda più appropiata alla cerimonia che doveva celebrare. Sul tessuto leggendario, che la traditione epica o tradizioni locali di folclore gli offrivano, egli ordiva la sua trama, ora variando per un fine etico-sociale i particolari della vincenda mitica, ora du una stessa saga ponendo in più vivida luce l’impresa eroica più rispondente… Read more

Helen, Counter-Ambush Expert

2016.05.01 | By Mary Ebbott and Casey Dué Introduction In addition to her superlative beauty, Helen in the Iliad and Odyssey has exceptional talents. She recognizes Telemachos before anyone else in Sparta does (Odyssey 4.138–146). She can also recognize a goddess in disguise (Iliad 3.396–399). She can interpret bird-signs like a mantis (‘augur, seer’) (Odyssey 15.171–178). She knows her life will be the subject of future song (Iliad 6.356–358). She… Read more

Introduction to “Helen and her Eidolon”

2016.05.01 | By Donna Zuckerberg While planning the collaborative “Helen and her Eidolon” event between Eidolon and Classical Inquiries, I’ve found myself returning time and again to one difficult question: what, precisely, is an ‘eidōlon’? The answer is less obvious than one might think. In the prologue of Euripides’s Helen, Helen tells the audience that after her defeat in the Judgement of Paris, Hera “created from the sky a breathing… Read more

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