For those who don’t know, I wrote a historical fiction about Helen of Troy at the age of sixty-five starting over. I tried to weave the myriad of contradictory myths about the most beautiful woman in the world (with the face that launched 1000 ships) into a plausible narrative. In so doing, I sought to answer a few questions that get explained away by the gods interference in most cases in the original epic poems and plays.
1) Why did Helen leave Sparta? Those who know the story of the golden apple, know the goddess Eris (strife), was not invited to the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. She left a wedding gift anyway, with the note, “To the fairest goddess.” Paris, the son of Priam and Hecuba, prince of Troy was chosen to make the decision as to who should receive the apple, Hera, Athena or Aphrodite.
Each of the goddesses offered gifts, Hera offered the power to rule of all of Europe and Asia, Athena offered wisdom and the capacity to be the greatest warrior that ever lived. Aphrodite offered the hand and heart of the most beautiful woman in the world; Helen of Troy.
Married already, Aphrodite instructed her son to shoot an arrow into Helen’s heart so she would leave with Paris.
However this version of the story renders Helen a pawn with no free will of her own. So I tried to craft a plausible reason for the woman with the true power of the throne (it was through Helen, not Menelaus that the kingship came), to leave a place where she ruled, had a daughter, and knew if she left, there would be consequences for all of Greece, but went anyway. What would make her leave everyone she ever knew and loved?
2) Helen arrives with Paris in Troy, but in addition to the treasures/dowry she brings a lot of baggage; like 1000 ships stocked with armed to the teeth Greeks from all over the Mediterranean. I could see the Trojans waiting it out at first, but eventually as the Greeks tore up the beaches and countryside, raiding local farms and hunting grounds, I can’t help but think the Trojans would say, “You know, you’re really pretty but this many in-laws is way too much. Thanks, go home.”
I could get Paris wanting to keep her, I could understand Priam wanting to out of honor, keep her around, but the rest of Troy would have been soured as things got harder. So the second question is why did the Trojans let her stay?
What made her people, or for that matter, her husband, take her back?