Paris Vs. Helen

Decent Essays
The story of Paris and Helen is captivating in that they both play different roles and accumulate different levels of blame in each different retelling of the story. In some, they are the destructive lovers, whose all-consuming desire obliterates Troy and costs many great Greek warriors their lives. In others, Helen is the victim of Aphrodite’s enchantment and Paris’s lust; and in some, Paris is portrayed as a generally weak man who tries to do the right thing, and often fails miserably at it. One question that often comes up when analyzing their relationship is: how much agency did they both characters have over their lives and how are we meant to view their relationship and the destruction it causes. One common thread that always is deeply…show more content…
One of Paris’ most unpleasant scenes occur when Aphrodite attempts to defend the injured Paris to Helen after Paris flees from his battle with Menelaus: “‘You would not think that he came from fighting against a man; you would think he was going rather to a dance, or rested and had been dancing lately’” (The Iliad, 127). Although Aphrodite intends this as a compliment, there is no doubt that this is a very condescending view of Paris’ worth. Despite the fact that he has embarrassed himself and his city by fleeing from battle like a coward, he is reduced even further to his most basic qualities: his looks. This is very demeaning for a character who is already an outsider in his own community; additionally, Paris’ life has arguably been completely dismantled by his looks. Aphrodite sees Paris through a superficial lens because she is a goddess; she has little concept of human emotion or empathy for Paris’ humiliation. She truly believes he lives a charmed life because of her and fails to see the darkness and pain that everyone, including Paris, has suffered because of her. Paris now has to return to battle knowing that he will never overcome the shame of failing his people and of bucking under the weight of his cowardice, and she will never understand that burden; she doesn’t have to. The other heroes all seek glory in battle; yet Paris is still on the outside looking in, as it is clear to him that glory in battle will never his path. It is a moment of painful clarity for
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