Helen In The Odyssey

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Much of what is known regarding the myth of the Trojan War is contained within the epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer, the famous epic poet writing in 8th century BCE. In his works, Homer details the siege of Troy led by Menelaus, the King of Sparta, after Helen, Menelaus’s wife, runs off with Paris, a Trojan prince. While Helen may seem solely responsible for the war at Troy at first glance, her role in the context of the entire situation, that is the myth of the Trojan War, suggests otherwise. Furthermore, the circumstance that enables Paris to steal Helen away from Menelaus and bring her back to Troy with him so easily shifts most of the responsibility of the war from Helen to other factors. We should not hold Helen fully accountable for being the cause of the Trojan War because the responsibility of the war lies primarily with the Greek gods. The context of how the Trojan…show more content…
In his work, Histories, Herodotus recounts previous occasions of Greek men stealing women from the Persians, noting the examples of the stealing of Io and Medea respectively. He writes, “For plainly the women would never have been carried away, had they not wanted it themselves” (Herodotus, Histories, 1.4.3). Given the situation of the stealing of Helen, Herodotus would argue that, similar to situations in the past, Helen must have wanted to be carried off to some degree; Helen and the others were never completely forced to leave against their will. Herodotus’ writing provides a counterargument to Homer’s belief that the gods were the sole cause of the war because Helen may have wanted to leave Menelaus and had the opportunity to when she meets Paris. As such, we are able to give Helen some responsibility for the Trojan War, but still maintaining that the gods are the primary cause for the
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