The Myth of Helen of Troy and Its Transformations in the Dramas by Euripides
The myth of Helen of Troy is constantly present in Greek literature, beginning with the archaic age, throughout the classical period, until the Hellenistic times. After Homer, we may trace it in the Epic Cycle, in the lyric poems of Sappho, Alcaeus, Ibycus, and Stesichorus, in the historiography of Herodotus and Thucydides, in the rhetorical works of Gorgias and Isocrates, in the comedies of Aristophanes, and even in the tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides. In the Hellenistic period, the myth appears inter al. in Theocritus and, in later times, in Lucian. Many reasons may be found for the myth’s popularity, one of ← 43 | 44 → which is the fact that the Homeric poems were considered to be archetypical in their form and content for future literary works. This, however, does not fully explain the popularity and permanency of the Helen myth in Greek culture. Another reason for its preservation may lie in the religious components encapsulated within the myth, especially ancient initiation rites, as well as in the references to historical elements reflected in the myth. Both reasons, therefore, indicate, in a broad sense, the myth’s connection with the political sphere of life, mirrored, at the same time, by the Helen myth itself. An outstanding feature of Greek myths is their variety of alternative stories, which, in the case of the Helen myth, is especially noticeable in the diversity of opinions about the main heroine. On the basis of the modifications within the myth, which have occurred throughout the...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.