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date: 22 April 2024


, king of Sparta and husband of Helen


, king of Sparta and husband of Helen
  • Andrew Brown


Younger brother of *Agamemnon and husband of *Helen; king of *Sparta (though *Aeschylus, Ag. 400, makes him share his brother's palace at *Argos (1)). The abduction of his wife by *Paris caused the Trojan War. In Homer's Iliad he is sometimes effective in battle (notably in book 17, where most of the other Greek leaders are absent), and he defeats Paris in a duel at 3. 340–82. He is consistently portrayed, however, as a (relatively) ‘gentle warrior’ (17. 588), inferior to the best fighters but honourable and courageous (at 6. 37–65 he wishes to spare the Trojan Adrestus until overruled by Agamemnon, and at 7. 94–122 he volunteers for a hopeless duel with the far stronger *Hector). In Homer, Odyssey 4, he is seen at Sparta as a wealthy and hospitable king and recounts his adventures on his way home from Troy. These include his visit to Egypt and his encounter with *Proteus, who prophesied that instead of dying he would finally be translated to *Elysium (4.


  • Greek Myth and Religion

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