“Helen” by Euripides

The Real Cause of the Trojan War

Paris and Helen The Idle Fancy

Hera, indignant at not defeating the goddesses, made an airy nothing of Helen’s marriage with Paris; she gave to the son of King Priam not Helen, but an image, alive and breathing, that she fashioned out of the sky and made to look like Helen; and Paris thinks he has Helen—an idle fancy, for he doesn’t have her. And in turn the plans of Zeus added further troubles to these; for he brought a war upon the land of the Hellenes and the unhappy Phrygians, so that he might lighten mother earth of her crowded mass of mortals, and bring fame to the bravest man of Hellas.

Now indeed I see how worthless the seers’ doings are, and how full of falsehood; there was no health in the blaze of sacrifice after all, or in the cry of winged birds; even to think that birds can help mankind is certainly foolish. For the seer Calchas gave no word or sign to the army, when he saw his friends dying on behalf of a cloud, nor did Helenos; but the city was taken by storm in vain.

What mortal claims, by searching to the utmost limit, to have found out the nature of God, or of his opposite, or of that which comes between, seeing as he doth this world of man tossed to and fro by waves of contradiction and strange vicissitudes? Thou, Helen, art the daughter of Zeus; for thy sire was the bird that nestled in Leda’s bosom; and yet for all that art thou become a by-word for wickedness, through the length and breadth of Hellas, as faithless, treacherous wife and godless woman; nor can I tell what certainty is, whatever may pass for it amongst men.

“Fortune gave her to me, and destiny took her away.”


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