Helen of Troy: goddess, princess, whore

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Jonathan Cape, Oct 31, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 458 pages
A major new book about the life and legend of the world’s ‘most beautiful woman’ – by the new star of TV history. As soon as men began to write, they made Helen of Troy their subject. Hesiod, a poet born around 700BC and one of the first named authors in history, called her ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ and the description endured. Even though we have no contemporary representations of her, this Bronze Age princess is still seen as a paradigm of absolute beauty and as a reminder of the terrible power beauty can wield. Because of her double marriage to the Greek King Menelaus and the Hittite Prince Paris, Helen was held responsible for the enduring enmity between East and West. But who was she? She exists in many forms: the historical figure of the Bronze Age Spartan Queen who ruled over one of the most fertile areas of the Mycenaean world; the goddess subject of an eighth-century BC heroic cult which conflated Helen the person with a pre-Greek goddess; the mythological and literary home-wrecker figure of the Iliad; the icon and the first recorded sex-goddess, a symbol of the power of beauty and love. Focusing on the ‘real’ Helen (the possibility of a flesh and blood Helen), acclaimed historian Bettany Hughes re-constructs the context of life in the Bronze Age Greece for this elusive pre-historic princess. Hughes brilliantly unpacks the facts and myths surrounding one of the most enigmatic and notorious figures of all time.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Lukerik - LibraryThing

If you're looking to find out about Helen of Troy then this is the book for you. I read Euripides's play first and was struck by Helen's similarities to Jesus - I read it from a post-Christian ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pierthinker - LibraryThing

Ancient history has never been my thing, but if all ancient history books are like this one, then bring it on! Hughes paints an extraordinary picture of life in ancient Greece, focusing on the most ... Read full review



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