- Andrew Brown
Helen (Ἑλένη), daughter of *Zeus and *Leda (or Zeus and *Nemesis, according to an early variant); wife of *Menelaus(1) of *Sparta; the beautiful woman whose abduction by *Paris was the cause of the Trojan War.
Helen was also worshipped (especially near *Sparta and on *Rhodes) as a goddess associated with trees (see trees, sacred). Spartan girls danced and ran races beside the Eurotas in her honour and, when invoked in prayer at Therapne (see menelaion), she could turn an ugly child beautiful (Hdt. 6. 61). It is generally agreed that she must have been a goddess before she was a mortal heroine, but the connection between these two different incarnations is obscure. It has been suggested that the repeated seductions of the mortal Helen are derived from temporary absences of the goddess in the cult myths.
- Greek Myth and Religion