Sunday, July 6, 2014

TFBT: Only Reason for the Trojan War

Janet at Hour 25 suggested that  regarding the  play Agamemnon; “Aeschylus probably knows that Helen cannot be the only reason for the Trojan War.”

Aeschylus points out that “some god”  sent erinyes (Agamemnon and Menelaus)  to punish Paris for his violation of the holy Law of Hospitality. Which agrees with Janet’s point.

However,  at line 745 Aeschylus compares Helen to an eriny sent by Zeus to Troy, which comforms to the plot and logic of the Cypria.  
Around line 511 Aeschylus writes that Menelaus “In his dreams he sees sad images  with memories of earlier joy — a vain relief, for when the man thinks he sees such beauty there, all at once it’s gone, slipping  through his hands, flying away  along the paths of sleep.” Is this a reference to Helen?  “such beauty” “slipping through his hands, flying away” and according to Stesichorus and Hilda Doolittle’s “Helen in Egypt” living a dream-like existence in Egypt among the “paths of sleep”.

In recent discussions Olga Levaniouk pointed out that multiple interpretations can be true at once.

So Janet is right Aeschylus probably knows that Helen cannot be the only reason for the Trojan war and left a couple of  hints.


  1. Helen is highly unusual in being (as far as I know) the only mortal daughter of Zeus. So we, together with Aeschylus, should inquire about her raison d'etre. Any attempt to explain the Trojan War using Helen brings in turn the question why Helen was created in the first place.

  2. Maya, Uou are right. Helen was Zues only mortal daughter. As to her raison d'etre, the fragments of the Cypria makes it clear that the wars at Thebes s d Troywere arranged by Themis and Zeus to relieve the earth of the burden of the tribes if men. The apple for the fairest and Helen were all part of the Will of Zeus