The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Helen

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Edition of 1879. See also Helen of Troy on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

HELEN (Gr. Ἑλένη; Lat. Helena), in Greek legends, the wife of Menelaus, and the most beautiful woman of her time. Her parentage is variously assigned to Jupiter and Leda, the wife of King Tyndareus, to Jupiter and Nemesis, and to Tyndareus and Leda. Before Helen was 10 years of age she was carried off by Theseus, who concealed her at Aphidnæ, under the care of his mother Æthra. Her brothers Castor and Pollux released her, and carried her back to Sparta with Æthra as her slave. She now had suitors from all parts of Greece, among whom was Ulysses. By the advice of this hero Tyndareus left the choice to Helen, and she accepted Menelaus, to whom she bore Hermione, and according to some Nicostratus also. Three years after this marriage she was seduced by Paris, the son of Priam, and fled with him to Troy. The Grecian princes, in accordance with an oath which they had taken when suitors together at the court of Tyndareus, took up arms to restore to Menelaus his wife, and the Trojan war was the consequence. Paris was killed during the siege, and Helen then married Deiphobus, another son of Priam; but when the city was taken, she treacherously introduced the Greeks into his chamber in order to appease Menelaus. She returned to Sparta, and received her first husband's forgiveness. The accounts of her death differ. According to one, after the death of Menelaus, she was driven into exile by Nicostratus and Megapenthes, and retired to Rhodes, where the queen of that island, Polyxo, whose husband Tlepolemus had been killed in the Trojan war, caused her to be seized while bathing, tied to a tree, and strangled. The Rhodians commemorated the murder by a temple raised to Helena Dendritis, or Helen tied to a tree. The Spartans honored her as a goddess, and built a temple to her at Therapne, which had the power of conferring beauty upon all ugly women who entered it.