‘Classic Myths to Read Aloud‘ by William F Russell
The Stealing of Helen
When I watched the movie ‘Troy‘ after it went to video, I hadn’t been really familiar with the beginning of the war. All you ever seem to hear about in watered down school texts
is about the Trojan horse. So to see that Helen wanted to leave her home and join Paris in Troy just seemed to be the way it was. Here we find there is more to it than that. Helen was actually a bit more faithful than we are led to believe on TV. Still that she was removed from Laconia and taken to Troy is not in dispute. Thus we have the motive for the war. Also, we learn why it involved all of Greece and not just Laconia.
Menelaus was King of Laconia.
The capital of that kingdom was Sparta.
Both of these names carry into our current language. The Spartans, along with being exceptional fighters, were also what you might call minimalists. They were self-disciplined in person and possessions. Often doing without the luxuries common in other cultures. This minimalist way is reflected in the adjective ‘spartan‘. Which is “an austere lifestyle or anything that lacks ornamentation“.
Laconia was an area where people were noted for their brief and pithy speech. Using as few words as possible to get their point across. This is reflected in the word ‘laconic‘. which is used to describe terse or concise speech.
I’d like to mention what is most obvious after listening to the story. Paris wanted something that was not his to have. Ultimately this makes him little more than a thief. So much can be avoided if we will simply be grateful and happy with what we have. It’s also of note that aside from Helen being stolen, there was another, almost more egregious, Crime that took place. Betrayal of the hospitality that was given. It is a matter of honour which used to mean something, and should still.
On the plus side. This story will introduce us to some of the most famous names in Greek history/mythology. Ulysses, Ajax, Agamemnon, and Achilles. From which we will have many more stories.
It is a privilege to read to the world!