HELENA

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HELENA ; the most Deautiful woman of her age, sprung from one of the eggs which Leda, the wife of king Tyndarus, brought forth after her amour with Jupiter, metamorphosed into a swan. (See Leda.) According to some authors, Helen was daughter of Nemesis by Jupiter, and Leda was only her nurse ; and, to reconcile this variety of opinions, some imagine tha; Nemesis and Leda are the same persons, Her beauty was so universally admired, even in her infancy, that Theseus, with his friend Pirithous, carried her away before she had attained her 10th year, arid concealed her at Aphidnae, under the care of his mother iEthra. Her brothers, Castor and Pollux, recovered her by force of arms, and she returned safe and unpolluted to Sparta, her native country. There existed, however, a tradition recorded by Pausanias, that Helen was of nubile*years when carried away by Theseus, and that she had a daughter by her ravisher, who was intrusted t6 the care of Clytemnestra. Her hand was afterwards eagerly solicited by the young princes cf Greece, mcLiding Ulysses, Diomed, Ajax, son of Oileiis, Ajax and Teucer, sons of Telamon, Pa¬¶troclus, son of Menoetius, Menelaus, son of Atreus, Thoas, Idomeneus and Merlon. At the proposal of Ulysses, Tyndarus bound all the suitors, by a solemn oath, to approve of the choice which Helen should make of one among them, and engage to unite together to defend her person and character, if ever any attempts were made to ravish her from the arms of her husband. Helen chose Menelaus. Hermione was the early fruit of this union, which continued for three years with mutual happiness. After this, Paris, son of Priam king of Troy, came to Lacedaemon on pretence of sacrificing to Apollo. He was kindly received by Menelaus, and, in his absence in Crete, he corrupted the fidelity of Helen, and persuaded her to follow him to Troy. At his return, Menelaus assembled the Grecian princes, and reminded them of their solemn promises. They resolved to make war against the Trojans; but they previously sent ambassadors to Priam, to demand the restitution of Helen. The influence of Paris at his father's court prevented the restoration. Soon after, the combined forces assembled, and sailed for the coast of Asia. When Paris was killed, in the ninth year of the war, she voluntarily married Deiphobus, one of Priam's sons; and, when Troy was taken, she made no scruple to.betray him, and to introduce the Greeks into his chamber, to ingratiate herself with Menelaus. She returned to Sparta, and Menelaus received her again. Some writers, however, say that she obtained even her life with difficulty from her husband. After she had lived for some years at Sparta, Menelaus died, and she was driven from Peloponnesus by Megapenthes and Nicostratus, the illegitimate sons of her husband; she retired to Rhodes, where at that time, Polyxo, a native of Argos, reigned over the country. Polyxo, whose husband, Tlepolemus, had been killed in the Trojan war, meditated revenge on Helen. While Helen, one day, retired to bathe in the river, Polyxo disguised her attendants in the habit of furies, and sent them with orders to murder her enemy Helen was tied to a tree and strangled, and her misfortunes were afterwards remembered, and the crimes of Polyxo expiated by the temple which the Rhodians raised to Helen Dendritis, or tied to a tree. There is a tradition mentioned by Herodotus, which says that Paris was driven, as he returned from Sparta., upon the coast of Egypt, where Proteus, king of the country expelled him from his dominions for his ingratitude to Menelaus, and confined Helen. Priam therefore informed the Grecian ambassadors, that neither Helen nor her possessions were in Troy, bin in the hands of the king of Egypt. In spite of this assertion, the Greeks besieged the town, and took it after ten years' siege; and Menelaus, visiting Egypt as he returned home, recovered Helen at the court of Proteus, and was convinced that the Trojan war had been undertaken upon unjust grounds. Helen was honored, after death, as a goddess, and the Spartans built her a temple at Therapne, which had the power of giving beauty to all the deformed women that entered it. Helen, according to some, was carried into the island of Leuce, after death, where she married Achilles, who had been once one of her warmest admirers.