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A Short History of Greek Literature provides a concise yet comprehensive survey of Greek literature -

from Christian authors - over twelve centuries, from Homer's epics to the rich range of authors surviving
from the imperial period up to Justinian. The book is divided into three parts. The first part is devoted to
the extraordinary creativity of the archaic and classical age, when the major literary genres - epic, lyric,
tragedy, comedy, history, oratory and philosophy - were invented and flourished. The second part
covers the Hellenistic period, and the third covers the High Empire and Late Antiquity. At that tine the
masters of the previous age were elevated to the rank of 'classics'. The works of the imperial period are
replete with literary allusions, yet full of references to contemporary reality.

Helen of Troy, Greek Helene, in Greek legend, the most beautiful woman of Greece and the
indirect cause of the Trojan War. She was daughter of Zeus, either by Leda or by Nemesis, and
sister of the Dioscuri. As a young girl she was carried off by Theseus, but she was rescued by her
brothers. She was also the sister of Clytemnestra, who married Agamemnon. Her suitors came
from all parts of Greece, and from among them she chose Menelaus, Agamemnon’s younger
brother. During an absence of Menelaus, however, Helen fled to Troy with Paris, son of the
Trojan king Priam; when Paris was slain, she married his brother Deiphobus, whom she betrayed
to Menelaus when Troy was subsequently captured. Menelaus and she then returned to Sparta,
where they lived happily until their deaths.

The abduction of Helen, bas-relief; in the Lateran Museum, Rome.Alinari/Art Resource, New
York
According to a variant of the story, Helen, in widowhood, was driven out by her stepsons and
fled to Rhodes, where she was hanged by the Rhodian queen Polyxo in revenge for the death of
her husband, Tlepolemus, in the Trojan War. The poet Stesichorus, however, related in his
second version of her story that she and Paris were driven ashore on the coast of Egypt and that
Helen was detained there by King Proteus. The Helen carried on to Troy was thus a phantom,
and the real one was recovered by her husband from Egypt after the war. This version of the
story was used by Euripides in his play Helen.

West, Benjamin: Helen Brought to ParisHelen Brought to Paris, oil on canvas by Benjamin
West, 1776; in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. 143.3 × 198.3
cm.Photograph by pohick2. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Museum
purchase, 1969.33

Helen was worshipped and had a festival at Therapnae in Laconia; she also had a temple at
Rhodes, where she was worshipped as Dendritis (the tree goddess). Like her brothers, the
Dioscuri, she was a patron deity of sailors. Her name is pre-Hellenic and in cult may go back to
the pre-Greek periods.