Helen

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Helen,

in Greek mythology, the most beautiful of women; daughter of LedaLeda
, in Greek mythology, daughter of Thestios, king of Aetolia, and wife of Tyndareus, king of Sparta. According to most legends, she was seduced by Zeus, who visited her in the form of a swan.
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 and ZeusZeus
, in Greek religion and mythology, son and successor of Kronos as supreme god. His mother, Rhea, immediately after his birth concealed him from Kronos, who, because he was fated to be overthrown by one of his children, ate all his offspring.
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, and sister of Castor and PolluxCastor and Pollux
, in classical mythology, twin heroes called the Dioscuri; Castor was the son of Leda and Tyndareus, Pollux the son of Leda and Zeus. They were brothers to Helen and Clytemnestra. Castor excelled as a horseman and Pollux as a boxer.
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 and ClytemnestraClytemnestra
, in Greek mythology, the daughter of Leda and Tyndareus. Homer described her as the noble-minded wife of Agamemnon, persuaded to infidelity by the tyrant Aegisthus. However, the Greek tragedians, most specifically Aeschylus, depicted her as remorseless and vengeful.
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. While still a young girl Helen was abducted to Attica by Theseus and Polydeuces, but Castor and Pollux rescued her. Later, when she was courted by the greatest heroes and chieftains of Greece, her foster father, Tyndareus, fearful of their jealousies, demanded that each suitor swear to defend the rights of the man Helen chose. She then married MenelausMenelaus
, in Greek mythology, king of Sparta, son of Atreus. He was the husband of Helen, father of Hermione, and younger brother of Agamemnon. When Paris, prince of Troy, abducted Helen, Menelaus asked the other Greek kings to join him in an expedition against Troy, beginning
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, who, when ParisParis
or Alexander,
in Greek mythology, son of Priam and Hecuba and brother of Hector. Because it was prophesied that he would cause the destruction of Troy, Paris was abandoned on Mt. Ida, but there he was raised by shepherds and loved by the nymph Oenone.
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 carried her off to Troy, reminded her former suitors of their oath. They then recruited an army and defeated the Trojans in the Trojan WarTrojan War,
in Greek mythology, war between the Greeks and the people of Troy. The strife began after the Trojan prince Paris abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. When Menelaus demanded her return, the Trojans refused.
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.

Some legends say that Paris forcibly abducted Helen; others that she fell in love with him and went willingly. In one peculiar account, originating in Stesichorus and used by Euripides, Helen was rescued by Proteus in Egypt, who substituted in her stead a phantom that sailed to Troy with Paris. Proteus then cared for Helen until Menelaus finally claimed her. In the Iliad and Odyssey, Helen becomes Paris' wife but is in sympathy with the Greeks. She is easily reconciled with Menelaus after the war, and they return to a peaceful life at Sparta.

There are several other accounts of the story of Helen. Some say that after she and Menelaus returned to Greece, Orestes vengefully tried to kill her but that Zeus deified her. She bore Menelaus one daughter, HermioneHermione
, in Greek mythology, the only daughter of Helen and Menelaus. When Helen eloped with Paris, Hermione was abandoned to the care of Clytemnestra. She later married Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles.
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, and, by some accounts, a son, Pleisthenes. Helen had cults in Sparta and elsewhere and is considered by some scholars to be a "faded" goddess—perhaps an ancient fertility goddess—who became a mortal woman.

Helen

carried off by Paris, thus precipitating Trojan war. [Gk. Lit.: Iliad, Hall, 147]