Helen's Courtship

Not so long ago and not so far away a girl was born to Queen Leda of Lacedaemon. She was a bright girl, a charming girl, a girl of radiant beauty. Though she was raised by King Tydareos as his own daughter, in actuality she was the daughter of Zeus who disguised as a swan had impregnated her mother.

Great men from far flung nations coveted this half-divine female as a prize to validate their own aspirations. Surely the man who possessed this glowing flower would gain the ear of all powerful Zeus? While still a child Theseus stole her to be assured of a demi-deity's hand in marriage, but her brothers Castor and Pollux retrieved their sister from her over-ambitious suitor.

Finally the day came when Helen was of a marriageable age. At fourteen it appeared that she would already be the cause of war as suitors demanded her as their own. King Tydareos was in a quandary as to what to do. He needed a wise leader who could negotiate a peaceful union for his darling adopted daughter. Who other than the powerful and cunning Odysseus could best resolve this situation? In return he promised her an introduction to the renowned artist and artisan, Penelopos, for purposes of her own marriage.

Odysseus hastened to Sparta. She was often willing to help a friend and she certainly found it in her interest to avert a nearby war. However she was keen to meet the man who had created such works as Persistence of Mnemosyne, Aphrodite on the Half Shell and a lovely painting of his benefactor cooking pasta in the kitchen, Mornay Leda. Swiftly she negotiated with the suitors. At her insistence they vowed to let Helen choose her partner, and defend her from any injury afterwards. Then, the matter lay in Helen's hands who was encouraged by the king to decide soon, before the suitors could become difficult once more.

Of course the suitors did not wish to leave things to chance. Each in their turn promised her jewels, fine clothing, servants to wait on her every whim. Only Menelaus in his time simply spoke with the princess, listening to her hopes and dreams, and sharing a few of his own. When the time came for Helen to announce her decision, she chose the suitor with whom she felt the safest, which was Menelaus. To their credit the other suitors gracefully accepted her choice and stayed for the wedding.

Yes, indeed, Odysseus did catch Helen's bouquet that day. Less than three months later she was wed to Penelopos.

To Be Possessive is Human to Eris, Divine.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps