Monday, October 7, 2013

History mystery: Intriguing Love Story of Paris and Helen

Paris was the son of King Priam of Troy and his queen Hecuba, who was also called Alexander or Alexandros. He was rejected at birth and raised as a shepherd boy on Mount Ida since it was foretold that he would be the cause of the downfall of Troy as per the dream of Hecuba. The dream was that she gave birth to a firebrand, the flames of which spread all over the city. This dream was interpreted by Aesacus to her and Paris was sent out with the hopes that the dream would be false. As Paris grew up he became a valiant defender of his flock and shepherd and received the name of Alexander which means the defender of men. He was also successful in identifying his real origin and got to know who his parents were when Priam prepared to celebrate a funeral solemnity for Paris, whom he thought was dead, He had ordered a bull to be brought from his herd and the same was to be given as a price to the winner of the game. Paris, who had participated in the game, conquered his brothers when one of them drew his sword to kill him but Paris fled to the altar of Zeus Herceius and it was here that Cassandra declared him as her brother and Priam accepted him as his son.

Paris was loved by a nymph, Oenone the daughter of the river god Cebren whom he married and she gave birth to a son, Corythus, who according to some was later sent by his mother to serve the Greeks as a guide during voyage to Troy. It is also said that Paris himself killed his son out of jealousy when he found him with Helen whom he loved and wanted her. Oenone possessed prophetic powers and she cautioned Paris not to sail towards the country of Helen which he ignored though she promised to heal him if he got wounded since that was the only aid she could offer him. It is said that at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the sea goddess, Eris, the goddess of discord was not invited and in a fit of rage when she was turned away, had stormed in casting a golden apple among those assembled there and addressed them saying ‘To the Fairest”. Three goddess laid claim to the apple namely, Aphrodite, Hera and Athena and Zeus was asked to choose from the three goddesses and fearing to be hated by the two not chosen he meditated and instructed Hermes to lead the three goddesses to Paris to resolve the issue.

The three goddesses tried to win the favor of Paris by offering him gifts and Paris was swayed by the offering of Aphrodite who promised to bestow him Helen, the most beautiful woman as his bride. Being a beauty contest, it seemed most appropriate that the goddess of beauty and love had offered Paris this offering but unfortunately Helen was the bride of Menelaus. The abduction of Helen led to the Trojan War and the downfall of the city. Some are of the opinion that Paris carried off Helen, the wife of Menelaus who followed him willingly due to the influence of Aphrodite while Menelaus was away from Crete, while others believe that the goddess deceived Helen by giving Paris the appearance of Menelaus while still others believe that Helen was carried away by force by Paris either during a chase or during a festival. Helen of Sparta is perhaps the most inspired character in ancient and modern literature and the war which was fought for her sake lasted for ten years.

Helen was a tantalizing enigma and though she was of flesh and blood, she was also immortal since she happened to be the daughter of Zeus and her mother was the beautiful Leda queen of Sparta who was lured by the father of the gods taking the form of a swan and her husband was Tyndareus. According to some versions, Nemesis is named mother in the bird form and the Helen egg was given to Leda to be raised. Helen had a sister Cytemnestra and twin brothers Castor and Pollux or Polydeuces and while Pollux shared a father with Helen, Caster shared with Cytemnestra and the two brothers are called Dioscuri Helen was one of the most spectacular characters of a dramatic love story of all times and one of the reason being the ten years war which took place between the Trojans and the Greeks namely the Trojan War. She was known to be the face that launched a thousand ships due to the vast number of warships that the Greeks sailed to Troy to get Helen back. Helen was famous for her beauty throughout ancient Greece and had many suitors who were most willing to take her as their bride.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting.History indeed is interesting if we take the time to look at it & learn from it. Thank you for the post


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