4. Helen’s Divine Beauty: Asset or Liability?
No rounded discussion of the beauty of Helen would be complete without an inclusion of the divine nature to which her beauty is credited. Throughout the work we, as readers, can infer subtle allusions focused at Helen’s divine heritage, one such line can be found in her mention of the ‘day my mother gave me to the world’ mentioned earlier within the discussion of book six. This line summons to mind, the well-known tale of Helen’s creation, she was conceived by the divinity Zeus, disguised as a swan, and a mortal Leda. This coupling saw Helen born within an egg, as “Helen, daughter of Zeus beyond the storm-cloud…” This celestial lineage implies that her beauty is a form of divinity at play, for she is not merely beautiful in a mortal sense, but beautiful due to her Olympian heritage.…show more content… Best surmised by Hughes: “There is every reason to believe that a Mycenaean queen – a Bronze Age Helen – would also have been a high priestess, a religious as well as temporal potentate. Although Homer’s Helen is half-mortal, half-divine, it is as a woman, a Spartan queen, that she speaks confidently to the gods and goddesses in the epic; she addresses her alter ego Aphrodite as an equal.”
Aphrodite has rescued Paris from death at the hand of Menelaus, and placed him safely in his bedchamber. She then moves to “summon” Helen to Paris’ side. Helen, seeing through Aphrodite’s mortal disguise, at first refuses Aphrodite’s demands that she join Paris in bed,
“To this the goddess haughtily replied:
‘Better not be so difficult. You’ll vex