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Laurel
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ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Book 3 adds to our impression of why The Iliad has been a favorite for so many centuries. As I have listened to my three version, I have felt almost as if I were watching a film of the actions. This is a very visual book.
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Here is the argument, from Pope's translation:

THE DUEL OF MENELAUS AND PARIS.

The armies being ready to engage, a single combat is agreed upon between Menelaus and Paris (by the intervention of Hector) for the determination of the war. Iris is sent to call Helen to behold the fight. She leads her to the walls of Troy, where Priam sat with his counsellers observing the Grecian leaders on the plain below, to whom Helen gives an account of the chief of them. The kings on either part take the solemn oath for the conditions of the combat. The duel ensues; wherein Paris being overcome, he is snatched away in a cloud by Venus, and transported to his apartment. She then calls Helen from the walls, and brings the lovers together. Agamemnon, on the part of the Grecians, demands the restoration of Helen, and the performance of the articles.

The three-and-twentieth day still continues throughout this book. The scene is sometimes in the fields before Troy, and sometimes in Troy itself.

http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/h/homer/h8ip/book3.html
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An analysis, from BookRags:


Although Helen had gone with Paris willingly nine years before, she is beginning to realize that her selfish actions have caused a great deal of suffering to two nations. Even though the Iliad is supposed to show the results of Achilles excessive anger, Homer also can't help pointing out that the excessive selfish passion of Paris and Helen have been just as destructive. If there is a moral to this story, it would have to be about the value of self-restraint, or emotional self-control. Nearly all of the bloodshed could have been avoided if three people had not thoughtlessly followed their first impulses - impulses marked by emotional immaturity and impulsiveness.

The emotional weakness of Paris is contrasted against the strength and valor of his brother, Hector, who has a keen sense of honor and fairness. He wants to do what is right, not just what is convenient, and so he convinces his cowardly brother to return to the battlefield to keep his promise to fight Menelaos. Even though Paris succumbs to his brother's argument, he is not really sorry for his cowardice. As soon as Aphrodite removes him from the battle, he is relieved to find himself in his bedchamber, and shows no interest in what may be happening among the troops. His character is apparently as weak as ever.
http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-iliad/chapanal003.html
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And another analysis, from CliffsNotes:

Structurally, Book III follows a pattern that Homer uses many times in the Iliad—one scene is followed by a second that reflects the first and reinforces ideas within it. In Book III the war between the Greeks and the Trojans is personified in the hand-to-hand duel between Menelaos and Paris—the two men whose dispute over Helen is the cause of the entire war. Their fight is symbolically between the warrior (Menelaos) and the lover (Paris). Menelaos wins the battle, but Paris, whisked away to the bedroom by Aphrodite, wins the girl.

This conflict between Menelaos and Paris re-emerges in the second scene of the Book as Helen attempts to reject Paris for Menelaos. Helen announces that she will have nothing more to do with Paris, but when Aphrodite, who symbolizes Helen’s carnal nature, threatens her, Helen immediately gives in and goes to bed with Paris. Homer frequently associates the qualities of a god with a character or an action in the poem. That Helen and Paris are overcome with carnal passion represented by Aphrodite and her threats is quite plain here. Helen would like to choose the honorable warrior, Menelaos, but her sexuality and passion control her and she returns to the bed of Paris, who is also unable to control his passionate nature and complete his battle with Menelaos. As Helen and Paris make love, Menelaos rages on the battlefield looking for the man he thought he had defeated. The skillful structuring of sections of the Iliad, such as in Book III, suggests that a single author lay behind the composition of the poem.

Book III makes it clear that human passion must be controlled if men are to be successful. By fighting with Menelaos and abiding by the terms of the truce, Paris could end the war that his actions caused. However, Paris can no more control his passion than Helen can control hers. In fact, Paris does not even try. He leaves the battlefield and glory albeit that glory on the battlefield is death, to make love with Helen. Just as Agamemnon and Achilles cannot control their pride and anger, so Paris cannot control his lust. Pride, anger, honor, passion—all these human traits, Homer suggests, must be brought under control if men are to succeed. Book III shows, through Paris and Helen, how lack of control has terrible consequences. Because he cannot control his lust, Paris causes the war to rage on more fiercely than ever. In contrast, Odysseus, the one Greek who uses reason to control his emotions, ultimately devises the plan that ends the war.

The introduction of Helen in this book and the images associated with her emphasize the sexuality inherent in her nature. When first encountered by the reader, Helen is weaving a tapestry, much like Penelope in the Odyssey. The tapestry depicts the course of the war, and while on one level it represents a kind of occupational therapy for Helen as she awaits the outcome, on another level it suggests that she is the weaver or cause of the war. Her physical beauty is never described, but the admiration of the old Trojans before they go to make the truce with Agamemnon makes her desirability clearer than any attempt at literal description.

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/The-Iliad.id-26,pageNum-20.html
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What do you think?
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Major Figures/Reading Questions

Major Figures in the Third Book of the Iliad

* Alexander - Paris - A prince of Troy who kidnapped Helen and started the Trojan War.

* Menelaus - Helen's Greek husband. Menelaus is not considered a good fighter.

* Iris - messenger goddess.

* Laodice - daughter of Priam.

* Helen - the wife of Menelaus who was taken by Paris. The cause of the Trojan War.

* Priam - King of the Trojans and father of Hector, Paris, Cassandra, and Helenus, among others.

* Agamemnon - lead king of the Greek forces, the brother of Menelaus.

* Odysseus - from Ithaca. One of the leaders of the Greeks who will vie with Ajax for the status of most worthy after Achilles.

* Idomeneus - leader of the contingent from Crete on the Greek side of the Trojan War.

* Aphrodite - the goddess of love and winner of the apple of discord who promised Paris (Alexander) Helen. She supports the Trojans and especially Paris.

source: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/trojanwarinlit/a/IliadIII_2.htm
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Reading questions

What contrast is suggested by the description of the Trojans and the Achaians in 1-9? by the description of Menelaos and Alexandros (Paris) (15-37)? Why is Hektor upset by Paris's behavior (38-57)? What difference does Paris see between himself and Hektor (59-66)? What proposal does Paris make (67-75)? What is Helen doing when she first appears in the narrative (125-127)? What is the symbolic significance of her action? Why is Helen summoned by Iris (130-138)? How does Homer depict Helen's beauty (156-160)? What does Helen do for Priam (161-242)? Do you find anything strange in the questions asked of Helen by Priam at this point in the war (the tenth year)? What purpose does the information given by Helen serve in the Iliad? What literary device is Homer employing in 236-244?

What are the terms of the duel (281-291)? What crime of Paris does Menelaos mention in his prayer to Zeus (351-354)? What does Aphrodite's intervention prevent (373-382)? Why does Aphrodite want Helen to go to Paris's chamber (390-394)? What is Helen's reaction to the goddess's invitation (399-412)? What threat does Aphrodite make to Helen (414-417)? What criticism does Helen make of Paris (428-436)? What is Paris's reaction to this criticism (438-446)? Helen's actions in this scene are obviously inconsistent with her feelings. What is the reason for her inconsistency?

What purpose does book 3 serve? Does it advance the story begun in book 1 at all? Explain your answer.

http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/netshots/homer.htm
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"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

As I have stated before, this is my first time reading the Iliad and . . . WOW, Book III was an awesome read for me. The intensity of emotion and action was very vivid. I haven't been that involved in a book in awhile. It surprised me, pleasantly.

I'm with you Laurel, it felt like I was watching this right in front of me and I just wanted to reach out and pinch Aphrodite and send her home crying. :smileyhappy:





Laurel wrote:
Book 3 adds to our impression of why The Iliad has been a favorite for so many centuries. As I have listened to my three version, I have felt almost as if I were watching a film of the actions. This is a very visual book.
---------------------------------


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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

I agree. Book 3 was simply and stunningly visceral. Helen, so distractable, the original blood joke or perhaps the premier poster child for ADD. Aphrodite,ooooh, growl, growl. Paris, snarl, spit, spit. And Hector. Dear me, I'm going to need a box of tissues when fate finally catches him.

Robin


leelee2525 wrote:
As I have stated before, this is my first time reading the Iliad and . . . WOW, Book III was an awesome read for me. The intensity of emotion and action was very vivid. I haven't been that involved in a book in awhile. It surprised me, pleasantly.

I'm with you Laurel, it felt like I was watching this right in front of me and I just wanted to reach out and pinch Aphrodite and send her home crying. :smileyhappy:





Laurel wrote:
Book 3 adds to our impression of why The Iliad has been a favorite for so many centuries. As I have listened to my three version, I have felt almost as if I were watching a film of the actions. This is a very visual book.
---------------------------------




Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine so I may wet my mind and say something clever. --Aristophanes
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Well said!

leelee2525 wrote:
As I have stated before, this is my first time reading the Iliad and . . . WOW, Book III was an awesome read for me. The intensity of emotion and action was very vivid. I haven't been that involved in a book in awhile. It surprised me, pleasantly.

I'm with you Laurel, it felt like I was watching this right in front of me and I just wanted to reach out and pinch Aphrodite and send her home crying. :smileyhappy:





Laurel wrote:
Book 3 adds to our impression of why The Iliad has been a favorite for so many centuries. As I have listened to my three version, I have felt almost as if I were watching a film of the actions. This is a very visual book.
---------------------------------





"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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3.1-8 Pygmies and cranes

[ Edited ]
http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/T92.2.html

http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi2228.htm

===================================

Homer:
Once troops had formed in ranks under their own leaders,
Trojans marched out, clamouring like birds, like cranes
screeching overhead, when winter's harsh storms drive them off,
screaming as they move over the flowing Ocean,
bearing death and destruction to the Pygmies,
launching their savage attack on them at dawn.
Achaeans came on in silence, breathing ferocity,
determined to stand by each other in the fight.
--Iliad 3.1-8 Johnston
http://www.mala.bc.ca/~Johnstoi/homer/iliad3.htm

Milton:
For never since created man,
Met such imbodied force, as nam'd with these
Could merit more then that small infantry [ 575 ]
Warr'd on by Cranes: though all the Giant brood
Of Phlegra with th' Heroic Race were joyn'd
That fought at Theb's and Ilium, on each side
Mixt with auxiliar Gods; and what resounds
In Fable or Romance of Uthers Son [ 580 ]
Begirt with British and Armoric Knights;
--Paradise Lost 1.575-581
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_1/index.shtml
(Milton brings the pygmies in again at the end of Book 1.)

=====================================

"The gathered armies are compared to flocks of birds. In this comparison, Homer intends the image of a mass of birds rather than a careful formation of flight. The armies are gathered in mass groups and the sound of the voices and weapons are similar to the squawking and flapping of birds. The warriors are difficult to distinguish from each other. The juxtaposition of a nature simile for a host of fighting men further evokes the chaos of battle."
http://www.bookrags.com/notes/il/TOP2.htm

================================
One explanation I read for why the Trojans were compared to noisy birds whereas the Achaean army came on silently is that the Trojan troops were an alliance of peoples of many tongues, and hence they seemed like jabberers to the Greeks. I thought Milton's quote would be a nice segue into our reading of Idylls of the King, but that won't start until December. Laurel
=================================

More on pygmies:

http://www.whipper-snapper.com/pygmies/lit.html

http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Pygmy

http://www.bartleby.com/181/165.html
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======================================================================

Message Edited by Laurel on 09-10-2007 09:28 AM
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen



leelee2525 wrote:
As I have stated before, this is my first time reading the Iliad and . . . WOW, Book III was an awesome read for me. The intensity of emotion and action was very vivid. I haven't been that involved in a book in awhile. It surprised me, pleasantly.

I'm with you Laurel, it felt like I was watching this right in front of me and I just wanted to reach out and pinch Aphrodite and send her home crying. :smileyhappy:





Laurel wrote:
Book 3 adds to our impression of why The Iliad has been a favorite for so many centuries. As I have listened to my three version, I have felt almost as if I were watching a film of the actions. This is a very visual book.
---------------------------------







I agree too, it felt like I was watching a movie version of the Illiad.
The important thing, is to keep the important thing the important thing.
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

I'm in lazy mode again today, so I'll ask instead of search. Does Helen have children, either now or later?
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Welcome back, HB! If you haven't done so already, be sure to go to Penelope's place and introduce yourself.

historybuff234 wrote:


leelee2525 wrote:
As I have stated before, this is my first time reading the Iliad and . . . WOW, Book III was an awesome read for me. The intensity of emotion and action was very vivid. I haven't been that involved in a book in awhile. It surprised me, pleasantly.

I'm with you Laurel, it felt like I was watching this right in front of me and I just wanted to reach out and pinch Aphrodite and send her home crying. :smileyhappy:





Laurel wrote:
Book 3 adds to our impression of why The Iliad has been a favorite for so many centuries. As I have listened to my three version, I have felt almost as if I were watching a film of the actions. This is a very visual book.
---------------------------------







I agree too, it felt like I was watching a movie version of the Illiad.


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Hmm.... That's certainly something to be watching for. I suspect not.

Peppermill wrote:
I'm in lazy mode again today, so I'll ask instead of search. Does Helen have children, either now or later?


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

It seems to me that Paris and Helen deserve each other. They both want to claim reputations that neither of them have earned. He struts into battle wearing armor, furs and weapons as though preparing for a fashion show, full of self-righteous warrior spirit and pride, though clearly unfamiliar with combat. She thinks of how she was wrongly taken from her child, husband and homeland, ceaselessly crying for her return. But when she is actually faced with an opportunity to reunite with her husband, she obviously chooses the lifestyle that she had previously led us to believe she was being forced into against her will. (Intentional misrepresentation of character is beyond frustrating.)
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Good descriptions, BB! :smileyvery-happy:

bonbon6846 wrote:
It seems to me that Paris and Helen deserve each other. They both want to claim reputations that neither of them have earned. He struts into battle wearing armor, furs and weapons as though preparing for a fashion show, full of self-righteous warrior spirit and pride, though clearly unfamiliar with combat. She thinks of how she was wrongly taken from her child, husband and homeland, ceaselessly crying for her return. But when she is actually faced with an opportunity to reunite with her husband, she obviously chooses the lifestyle that she had previously led us to believe she was being forced into against her will. (Intentional misrepresentation of character is beyond frustrating.)


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

You asked about our reaction to Book 3. I thought this book started telling us the real story as it introduces new characters and tells us why they're fighting. Books 1 and 2 seemed more like introductory material and didn't have the pace of this chapter.

Since I've never read anything like this before, I'm reading with the viewpoint that this is a view into ancient Greek culture and mindset. I'm just absorbing the different events in the story; reading the links, notes, and posts; and trying to see what this tells me about the culture.

I thought the intervention of the Aphrodite was interesting and potentially realistic (the mist, that is); a low hanging dense fog that blew in (the mist) could obscure vision and allow a fighter to escape. Homer foreshadowed an event like this in the second paragraph of Chapter 3.

"As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the mountain tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for thieves, and a man can see no further than he can throw a stone, even so rose the dust from under their feet as they made all speed over the plain."

Another interesting item is that Paris offered to fight Menaleus on his own. Admittedly, Hector had goaded him, but, he doesn't seem like the kind of guy that had the will to fight a one-on-one battle. Oh well, I guess that is just another interesting twist in Homer and ancient greek culture.
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Good post, Rae. Book 3 is just full of interesting things.

rbehr wrote:
You asked about our reaction to Book 3. I thought this book started telling us the real story as it introduces new characters and tells us why they're fighting. Books 1 and 2 seemed more like introductory material and didn't have the pace of this chapter.

Since I've never read anything like this before, I'm reading with the viewpoint that this is a view into ancient Greek culture and mindset. I'm just absorbing the different events in the story; reading the links, notes, and posts; and trying to see what this tells me about the culture.

I thought the intervention of the Aphrodite was interesting and potentially realistic (the mist, that is); a low hanging dense fog that blew in (the mist) could obscure vision and allow a fighter to escape. Homer foreshadowed an event like this in the second paragraph of Chapter 3.

"As when the south wind spreads a curtain of mist upon the mountain tops, bad for shepherds but better than night for thieves, and a man can see no further than he can throw a stone, even so rose the dust from under their feet as they made all speed over the plain."

Another interesting item is that Paris offered to fight Menaleus on his own. Admittedly, Hector had goaded him, but, he doesn't seem like the kind of guy that had the will to fight a one-on-one battle. Oh well, I guess that is just another interesting twist in Homer and ancient greek culture.


"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

I loved reading that comment!

The classics are classic for a reason. It's not just that they are old; it's that they are fabulous reads.

leelee2525 wrote:
As I have stated before, this is my first time reading the Iliad and . . . WOW, Book III was an awesome read for me. The intensity of emotion and action was very vivid. I haven't been that involved in a book in awhile. It surprised me, pleasantly.
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen



Peppermill wrote:
I'm in lazy mode again today, so I'll ask instead of search. Does Helen have children, either now or later?


Not that I'm aware of, but maybe some I've never noticed.
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Found it!

[171] And Helen, fair among women, answered him, saying: "Revered art thou in mine eyes, dear father of my husband, and dread. Would that evil death had been my pleasure when I followed thy son hither, and left my bridal chamber and my kinfolk and my daughter, well-beloved, and the lovely companions of my girlhood. (Murray)

http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomerIliad3.html

There's a rather confusing chart at the bottom of this page that includes this note: "Plisthenes 3 was son of Helen, probably by Menelaus. It is said that she took him with her to Cyprus."
http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Helen.html
There is some lovely art here.




Everyman wrote:


Peppermill wrote:
I'm in lazy mode again today, so I'll ask instead of search. Does Helen have children, either now or later?


Not that I'm aware of, but maybe some I've never noticed.


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Quiz

Here's a little quiz to take after you read Book 3:

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/classics/hansen/homr3qz.htm
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Paris, Menelaus, and Helen

Lattimore translates 3.175 "my grown child," and Postletwaite comments, "my grown child is her only daughter by Menelaos, Hermione."

Laurel wrote:
Found it!

[171] And Helen, fair among women, answered him, saying: "Revered art thou in mine eyes, dear father of my husband, and dread. Would that evil death had been my pleasure when I followed thy son hither, and left my bridal chamber and my kinfolk and my daughter, well-beloved, and the lovely companions of my girlhood. (Murray)

http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomerIliad3.html

There's a rather confusing chart at the bottom of this page that includes this note: "Plisthenes 3 was son of Helen, probably by Menelaus. It is said that she took him with her to Cyprus."
http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Helen.html
There is some lovely art here.




Everyman wrote:


Peppermill wrote:
I'm in lazy mode again today, so I'll ask instead of search. Does Helen have children, either now or later?


Not that I'm aware of, but maybe some I've never noticed.





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Re: ILIAD Book 3: Did Helen bear children?


Laurel wrote:
Found it!

[171] And Helen, fair among women, answered him, saying: "Revered art thou in mine eyes, dear father of my husband, and dread. Would that evil death had been my pleasure when I followed thy son hither, and left my bridal chamber and my kinfolk and my daughter, well-beloved, and the lovely companions of my girlhood. (Murray)

http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomerIliad3.html

There's a rather confusing chart at the bottom of this page that includes this note: "Plisthenes 3 was son of Helen, probably by Menelaus. It is said that she took him with her to Cyprus."
http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Helen.html
There is some lovely art here.

Everyman wrote:

Peppermill wrote: I'm in lazy mode again today, so I'll ask instead of search. Does Helen have children, either now or later?
Not that I'm aware of, but maybe some I've never noticed.

Laurel, thanks for the research! It is interesting that this site says Iphigenia is the daughter of Theseus, whereas elsewhere Iphigenia is portrayed as the daughter Agamemenon sacrificed.

"On her return, Helen, wishing to appear still as a virgin, entrusted to her sister Clytaemnestra the girl Iphigenia, whom she bore to Theseus."

Also, this page states: "Soon after his arrival to Sparta, the shepherd Paris, now known as a Trojan prince, succeeded in seducing Queen Helen, who abandoning her daughter Hermione, then nine years old, put most of her and Menelaus' property on board, and by night set sail with Paris to Troy."
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy