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Helen of The Iliad and The Odyssey (kaila)
The Trojan War is the subject of Homer’s epic works The Iliad and The Odyssey. The first poem takes place near the end of the battle, while the second, set around ten years later, tells the story of Odysseus’ perilous return home after the war. Odyssey’s female characters demonstrate the different ways in which women contribute to men’s lives. These characters serve several purposes, from the goddess who aids them to the nymphs who deceive them. Ancient Greek women’s significance is demonstrated in the Iliad by their prominence in a military-dominated civilization. One of these ladies was Helen of Troy, the daughter of Zeus and Leda, who plays a significant role in both of Homer’s epic works.
Helen appears to have a more complex image than other Greek women portrayed in Homer’s stories. Nearly every time her name is referenced in The Iliad, it is in a bad light. Because of her constant self-blame for the war in conversations with Hector and other characters throughout the epic, she is shown to be conscious of her deeds. In The Odyssey, Homer seems to soften the blow of Helen’s betrayal. In this story, Helen is married to Menelaus. However, she now freely acknowledges to him and other guests that her acts were inexcusable, nearly to the point of saying that what happened was uncharacteristic of her and that she is a great woman. Menelaus also agrees and shows no hostility towards her. It is when Helen confesses to relishing Troy’s demise, reveling as the Trojan wives mourned their husbands, Homer reveals that she is still as treacherous and devious as ever.
Helen sees herself as both the cause of the war and a mythical figure. This is displayed as she speaks with Hector, “…..on whom Zeus set a vile destiny, so that hereafter/ we shall be made into things of song for the men of the future” (Iliad 6.357-358). Helen’s role in the story of the Iliad goes far beyond that of just another person in this epic. Instead, at times, she impersonates the poet and turns the physical nature of the Iliad into art that the reader can understand. Even though other characters in the Iliad would try to say that Helen didn’t play a role in the events of the Trojan War, Helen places a lot of blame on herself for them. She refers to herself as a “slut” (Iliad 3.180) and a “nasty bitch evil-intriguing” (Iliad 6.344). Her guilt is amplified by her desire for death; “and I wish bitter death had been what I wanted, when I came hither/…/ It did not happen that way; and now I am worn with weeping.”(Iliad 3.173 – 176), and; brother by marriage to me, who am a nasty bitch evil-intriguing, how I wish that on that day when my mother first bore me the foul whirlwind of the storm had caught me away and swept me to the mountain, or into the wash of the sea deep-thundering where the waves would have swept me away before all these things had happened. (Iliad 6.343 – 348) Before her abduction from Sparta, Helen desires death because she beli
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