Your face has come to us across three millennia, in a halo of mystery and staggering beauty: you were the daughter of Zeus, king of the gods, and Leda, also known as Nemesis. In Sanskrit, your name means “the shining one”. The boy who abducted you, Pâris, mad with admiration and lust, suffered a terrible death, after a long war. If this is not the stuff of legends what is?
You were born in Sparta, the city of heroes of the Mycenaean Age. Homer sang your beauty. You hunted with your divine brothers, Castor and Pollux, your breasts naked, proud of your skills with the bow. Some say you gave birth to Iphigenia, from your meeting with Theseus, who went through hell to abduct Persephone. But who knows the truth?
Out of a crowd of suitors from far and near, you married Menelaus of Sparta, your birth place. He was a jealous man, and for good reasons. Pâris of Troy, who knew about women – after all he had been appointed to judge of the beauty of Aphrodite – seduced you. Hence the thousand ships.
The Trojan War was the end of the Age of Heroes, the Fall from grace. They burnt the city of Troy to ashes – not even Schliemann knew for sure where it was – and you died in Rhodes, where you are known as Helen of the Tree.