Missed one? In order: Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters from the Kings.

 

In working with the myths surrounding the Trojan War, there are some definite challenges. For starters, no two accounts of Helen’s life and story are the same. This also applies to Theseus, Paris, Menelaus, Agamemnon, and every other major player within the story. The reason for this is that these myths come from an oral tradition, and over time it would have been natural for them to shift and alter slightly between regions. People from Athens would talk Theseus up, because he was one of their founding fathers. People from Sparta might want to portray Helen as stolen, rather than an adulteress, to save her honor. They also might make Paris out as a coward, to emphasize his dishonor.

 

The sources we have available to us today can’t even agree on the reason for the start of the Trojan War. There’s the story of the goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, competing for the title of “Fairest” with Paris as the judge, and at first glance, it seems like the simplest answer. Paris chose Aphrodite, and she gave him Helen as a prize, offending the other two goddesses and causing them to turn against Troy– of course there was the little matter of Helen already being married to Menelaus, and he would have to go get her, but Aphrodite had no problem assisting him with that or making it sound like a good idea.

 

If you continue reading, there are other forces at work behind the goddesses and their vanity. According to Hesiod and the Cypria Fragments, the entire war was planned by Zeus as a way to destroy the race of demi-gods (children of the gods with mortals) and lighten the earth of men. Now, historically, not long after the rough dates we have for the Trojan War, the Mycenaean empire collapsed. Isn’t it convenient then, that the Greeks had a myth to explain the widespread destruction that cast them back into a dark age?

 

Personally, I find the contradicting accounts and stories to be exciting and interesting. For my writing purposes, it allows me to sift through the different pieces and put it all together in a unique way. It gives me a lot of freedom to work. Creative license, if you will. Which brings us to today’s letter from Helen to Theseus.

 

You won’t find this in the primary sources, but you won’t find anything saying it wasn’t possible either!

 

Noble King Theseus,

Good King, your generosity and kindness are without equal. I am truly undeserving of the honors you’ve bestowed upon me and offer you not just my thanks, but also my affection.

In return I must ask another favor of the King of Athens and the hero of Attica. I beg you to take me with you when you return to your city. If I stay here, it will bring nothing but trouble to my people, to my family, to those that I love. My father will not hear my warnings, and my brothers refuse to listen to caution.

Surely the son of Poseidon deserves whatever he desires? And my mother has long claimed me to be a daughter of Zeus, offering my beauty as proof. The match would bring no dishonor, though I am still young. I would make you a good wife, Theseus, when the time came. But if you leave me here, that day will never come. Agamemnon looks even now to secure one of Tyndareus’s daughters as his wife, and my father will never refuse him.

Take me with you, and you will have the promise of my affection and my gratitude for as long as I am kept safe in your kingdom. You will find no better wife in all of Achaea. No woman, not even a Queen of the Amazons, will give you stronger sons and daughters.

I ask this of you now, and give you the week to consider your answer. Speak of this to no one else, and give your answer only to my friend and maid, Clymene.

Yours,
Helen

 

So what about you? Is there anything going on in your NaNoWriMo novel that you’re bending the truth to allow? Things outside of the laws of physics? A motive that just doesn’t make sense in the real world, but for some reason, your character is driven to his doom by it anyway? Let’s hear it in the comments!