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HELENA
The divinely beautiful daughter of Zeus and Leda, the wife of Tyndareos of Sparta; sister of the Dioscuri and of Clytaemnestra. The post-Homeric story represented her as carried off, while still a maiden, by Theseus, to the Attic fortress of Aphidnae, where she bore him a daughter Iphigeneia. She was afterwards set free by her brothers, who took her back to Sparta. She was wooed by numbers of suitors, and at length gave her hand to Menelaus, by whom she became the mother of one child, Hermione. In the absence of her husband she was carried away to Troy by Paris the son of Priamus, taking with her much treasure. This was the origin of the Trojan War. The Trojans, in spite of the calamity she had brought upon them, loved her for her beauty, and refused to restore her to her husband. She, however, lamented the fickleness of her youth, and yearned for her home, her husband, and her daughter. After the death of Paris she was wedded to Deiphobus, assisted the Greeks at the taking of Troy, and betrayed Deiphobus into Menelaus' hands. With Menelaus finally she returned to Sparta after eight years' wandering, and lived thenceforth with him in happiness and concord. According to another story, mainly current after the time of Stesichorus, Paris carried off to Troy not the real Helena, but a phantom of her created by Hera. The real Helena was wafted through the air by Hermes, and brought to Proteus in Egypt, whence, after the destruction of Troy, she was taken home by Menelaus. (See PROTEUS.) After the death of Menelaus she was, according to one story, driven from Sparta by her stepsons, and fled thereupon to Rhodes to her friend Polyxo, who hanged her on a tree. Another tradition represented her as living after death in wedlock with Achilles on the island of Leuce. She was worshipped as the goddess of beauty in a special sanctuary at Therapne in Laconia, where a festival was held in her honour. She was also invoked like her brothers the Dioscuri, as a tutelary deity of mariners. (See DIOSCURI.)
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