Helen Of Helen In Homer's Argive Helen

1526 Words 7 Pages
Helen of Troy will always be a notable character from ancient Greek literature. From the moment Homer first spoke of her, certain things about her will be forever more written in stone. She will always be female, the wife of Menalaus, cause of the Trojan War, beautiful, and the daughter of Zeus. These are things that very few orators and authors dare to meddle with and those who do come out perhaps not as well of on the other end of things. There are however, the reactions and the inferences to the facts about Helen that can be shaped and molded into the creation of a certain view of the woman herself. While basic similarities between the two portrayals of Argive Helen exist, the Helen seen in Book Four of the Odyssey is a very different woman …show more content…
That she is described as "She the most fair/ of mortals, Helen..." (Sappho, 16.5-6) brings nothing new to the table. However the fact that her beauty is not once mentioned in an entire book of the Odyssey does add weight to the conversation. The closest thing to Helen 's beauty discussed in Book Four happens to be her divine connections when Homer pens "...next to Helen, Zeus ' brightness upon her" (Homer, 4.326). Her bridge to the immortal beings of Greece elevates her status in society and speaking of this as opposed to Helen 's great beauty paints a different picture of the woman. This divine power that the woman holds in the epic is something much more meaningful than the beauty spoken of in Sappho. While Poem 16 does not specifically speak aloud on the power of female beauty, many of the poet 's other works do such as Poem 31. Not only is this a theme within Sappho 's work, that men become so infatuated by womanly beauty that they seemingly lose their heads, it is also a common theme throughout ancient literature, especially Greek literature, that beautiful women are conscious of their beauty and use it for destruction and powers of persuasion. This can been seen in the Odyssey when the great hero stumbles across Circe 's house, who is said to be "...singing with a lovely voice..." (Homer, 10.237) and …show more content…
Both works openly agree that Helen was wisked away from Lacedaemon by some powerful force however it is in the nature of the force, as well as the appearance of choice in the matter, where the two ancient oratories disagree. There also exists strong, opposing views as to whether she left her family behind easily or if she mourned losing them with every stroke of the oars. Not only does Sappho point out the wonderful things Helen left behind in Lacedaemon, the poet claims that "...Helen, having a man of the best,/ deserted him, and sailed to Troy,/ without a thought for her dear child/ or parents, led astray by love 's power" (Sappho, 16.6-9). First of all, Helen leaves her entire family, everyone she cares for without a moment 's hesitation according to this source. That is a very powerful statement and one that strikes a reverberating cord with anyone that reads it for the care of children and parents is the center of most individual 's lives, still today and especially in ancient Greece. Therefor the poet is alienating Helen from the minds of most readers who would consider these actions both unspeakable and unbearable. But the main point of the phrase is that love led Helen to Troy, not a god

Related Documents