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Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by…

Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore (edition 2005)

by Bettany Hughes (Author)

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4131039,091 (3.81)11
Title:Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore
Authors:Bettany Hughes (Author)
Info:Jonathan Cape (2005), Edition: 1st American Edition, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes



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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
If you're looking to find out about Helen of Troy then this is the book for you.

I read Euripides's play first and was struck by Helen's similarities to Jesus - I read it from a post-Christian perspective. This book really helped me to understand how the Greeks would have seen Helen. Hughes is actually quite profound when discussing Helen as an eidelon.

My one complaint is that the footnotes are a mixture of references and fascinating asides that should be part of the main text. There are many hundreds of footnotes so the flow of your reading is constantly interupted, often only to be told that it's ibid. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 26, 2015 |
Ancient history has never been my thing, but if all ancient history books are like this one, then bring it on! Hughes paints an extraordinary picture of life in ancient Greece, focusing on the most famous name from her times - Helen of Troy. While never forgetting there is no evidence that Helen was an actual person, Hughes describes the life and times of princesses of that era and speculates persuasively on the possibility of Helen as a real person. This book, clearly written for a general audience, but never condescending or over-simplified, draws a continuous line from those ancients through history to our own times and I, for one, came away believing that a Helen of Troy certainly existed and swayed the politics and history of the eastern Mediterranean 3,500 years ago. ( )
  pierthinker | May 5, 2014 |
Hughes tries to do a little too much in this work, melding the possible historical princess of Sparta, who would have been married off as a preteen, with the intensely sexual vision of Helen in later art and literature.
  ritaer | Apr 27, 2013 |
Bettany Hughes was made an honorary Fellow of my university in the same ceremony as I became a graduate, so I've been planning to read this ever since. That, and the story of Troy has always been fascinating to me. There's definitely something very compelling about Bettany Hughes' writing, which though very detailed isn't dry -- or maybe I just have a weakness for descriptions of "sumptuous palaces" and so on trained into me by my early love of a book describing the treasures of Tutankhamen's tomb. She makes the book colourful, anyway. And from whatever I know of Greek history and myths, she chooses her material well and does wonders in digging through the evidence of millennia to look at the idea of Helen of Troy, where she came from and what she has meant to generations of people.

I think my favourite section was actually the discussion of what the fabled Helen had to do with Eleanor of Aquitaine: the interaction of real queens with figures of legend like Helen of Troy, Queen Guinevere and female Christian saints fascinates me...

I'm not sure how well I think the information was organised, though. Admittedly, Helen is hard to pin down, but I'm not sure I can pinpoint how Hughes wanted to present her ideas. For me, reading cover to cover and for pleasure, it worked fine, but if I were to come back and try to refer to some specific point, I think I'd have trouble finding it.

There are extensive notes and a long list of references to other works, so all in all I think this book is very well organised and researched. And -- to me, more importantly -- I really enjoyed reading it. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This is a weighty erudite tome covering, as other reviewers have said, more than just the bronze age greek origins of Helen. I expected it to be slow going and a hard read. It wasn't, it was almost in the "un-put-down-able" category. I can't comment on the accuracy of the book all I can say is that it chimes with what little I do know and that having read the book I now know a great deal more.
  BobH1 | Dec 9, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Bettany Hughes berättande är inspirerat och levande, med ett direkt och naturligt men samtidigt målande språk (och Margareta Eklöfs översättning utgör inga hinder). Tonen är avslappnad men nyfiken och fylld av "tänk om…" och "föreställ er att…".
Hon är den första som lanserar Helena som en framstående bronsålderspersonlighet snarare än som en dunkel myt, och till stor del har hon lyckats.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bettany Hughesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eklöf, MargaretaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother and father, who taught me everything. For Adrian, Sorrel, and May, from whom I'm still learning.
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In the heart of the Peloponnese, in the centre of Sparta, there is a small square, filled with palm trees and roses.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184413329X, Paperback)

A major new book about the life and legend of the world’s ‘most beautiful woman’ – by the new star of TV history.

As soon as men began to write, they made Helen of Troy their subject. Hesiod, a poet born around 700BC and one of the first named authors in history, called her ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ and the description endured. Even though we have no contemporary representations of her, this Bronze Age princess is still seen as a paradigm of absolute beauty and as a reminder of the terrible power beauty can wield.

Because of her double marriage to the Greek King Menelaus and the Hittite Prince Paris, Helen was held responsible for the enduring enmity between East and West. But who was she? She exists in many forms: the historical figure of the Bronze Age Spartan Queen who ruled over one of the most fertile areas of the Mycenaean world; the goddess subject of an eighth-century BC heroic cult which conflated Helen the person with a pre-Greek goddess; the mythological and literary home-wrecker figure of the Iliad; the icon and the first recorded sex-goddess, a symbol of the power of beauty and love.

Focusing on the ‘real’ Helen (the possibility of a flesh and blood Helen), acclaimed historian Bettany Hughes re-constructs the context of life in the Bronze Age Greece for this elusive pre-historic princess. Hughes brilliantly unpacks the facts and myths surrounding one of the most enigmatic and notorious figures of all time.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

For close to three thousand years, Helen of Troy has been both the embodiment of absolute female beauty and a reminder of the terrible power that beauty can wield. Because of her double marriage to the Greek king Menelaus and the Trojan prince Paris, Helen was held responsible for an enduring enmity between East and West. But who was she? Helen exists in many guises: a matriarch from the Age of Heroes; the focus of a cult that conflated Helen the heroine with a pre-Greek fertility goddess; the home-wrecker of the Iliad; the bitch-whore of Greek tragedy; the pin-up of Romantic artists. Focusing on a flesh-and-blood aristocrat from the Greek Bronze Age, cultural and social historian Hughes reconstructs the context of her life. Through the eyes of a young Mycenaean princess, Hughes examines the physical, historical, and cultural traces that Helen has left on locations in Greece, North Africa, and Asia Minor.--From publisher description.… (more)

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