Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore

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Knopf, 2005 - History - 458 pages
An illuminating, erudite, lively search for the real Helen of Troy–a chronicle that combines historical inquiry and storytelling Úlan–from one of Britain’s most widely acclaimed and popular historians.

As soon as men began to write, they made Helen of Troy their subject; for close to three thousand years she has been both the embodiment of absolute female beauty and a reminder of the terrible power that beauty can wield. Because of her double marriage to the Greek king Menelaus and the Trojan prince Paris, Helen was held responsible for an enduring enmity between East and West. For millennia she has been viewed as an exquisite agent of extermination. But who was she?

Helen exists in many guises: a matriarch from the Age of Heroes who ruled over one of the most fertile areas of the Mycenaean world; Helen of Sparta, the focus of a cult that conflated Helen the heroine with a pre-Greek fertility goddess; the home-wrecker of the Iliad; the bitch-whore of Greek tragedy; the pin-up of Romantic artists.

Focusing on the “real” Helen–a flesh-and-blood aristocrat from the Greek Bronze Age–Bettany Hughes reconstructs the context of life for this pre-historic princess. Through the eyes of a young Mycenaean woman, Hughes examines the physical, historical, and cultural traces that Helen has left on locations in Greece, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Vivid and compelling, this remarkable book brilliantly unpacks the facts and myths surrounding one of the most enigmatic and notorious figures of all time.

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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

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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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About the author (2005)

Bettany Hughes is a cultural and social historian, writer, and television presenter. She received degrees in ancient and medieval history at Oxford University and has carried out research in the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor. She has presented numerous documentaries and historical series for the BBC, PBS, and the Discovery Channel, and also writes pieces on popular history for several newspapers and magazines.

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