Helen in Iliad

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Homer creates Helen as a complex and suffering figure with a good mind, who strives for autonomy, expression, and belonging, within and despite the many constraints to which she is subject.Helen appears in only six encounters in the Iliad, with a different audience in each. As the encounters progress, she reveals more and more aspects of her personality and becomes increasingly assertive, increasingly her own person, and increasingly a part of the society in which she is an outcast. In the Iliad, as in the Odyssey, Helen is repeatedly referred to as the woman for whose sake the Trojan War was fought.But Helen is something more than that.She is depicted within a framework of multiple
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Nonetheless, she shares with them a measure of captivity. Her social standing is obviously higher than theirs, but her liberty is restricted. Even if she came to Troy willingly, which is not entirely clear, she is obviously not free to leave. At no point in the poem is it even hinted that Helen can simply climb onto a Greek ship and sail home with the army. The very thought seems to be beyond the world of the poem.
Helen’s position as possession is made plain when Iris comes to fetch her to witness the duel that Menelaos and Paris will fight over her.
Looking forward to a decisive end to the fighting, Iris eagerly informs
Helen that “you shall be called the beloved wife of the man who wins you” (3.138). It is not only that Helen is not to have any choice in the matter; it is also that she is clearly viewed as an object who may be fought over and who will become the lawful possession of the winner. Much the same objectification informs the herald Idaios’ reference to Helen when he summons Priam to make the sacrifices for the upcoming duel. Within
Helen’s earshot, Idaios tells Priam that Menelaos and Paris are going to fight “concerning a woman/wife” The fact that he does not even bother to mention Helen by name, as he does her two husbands, further highlights her position as an object. His repetition of the generic designation in the next line (3.255) makes it even clearer.
The motif of Helen as possession recurs in various forms throughout
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