56. Helen, by Euripides (412 BC)


“my curs’d beauty damned with deadly power Trojan and wandering Greek to sufferings untold”  Helen, page 147

Plot: Helen, wife of Menelaus, was not  taken to Troy as supposed by all the world, but has been living in the King’s palace in Egypt for 17 years. Menelaus, wandering the earth trying to return to Sparta but being repeatedly storm-driven onto the African coast, is washed ashore in Egypt and finally reunited with the real Helen. But now both must escape before the new Egyptian King Theoclymenus can kill Menelaus and force Helen into marriage.

My version is still the Penguin Classic edition translated by Philip Vellacott (ISBN 0140440445)

My thoughts: Suggested by Herodotus in his Histories, Euripides takes up the idea that Helen was whisked off to Egypt by the Gods, and an illusion was created from air by Hera to spite Paris for choosing Aphrodite over her…

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