Characters in Helen of Troy

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CHARACTERS

MORTALS:

AGAMEMNON
The leader of the Achaean expedition to Troy, he was the King of Mycenae. On his return from Troy he was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, and her lover Aegisthus. The lover was the son of Thyestes, the brother and enemy of Atreus, Agamemnon's father. When Odysseus voyages to Hades he meets with Agamemnon's ghost.

ALCINOUS
The King of the Phaeacians and husband of Arete, who had a daughter called Nausicaa. Nausicaa helps Odysseus when he first arrives in their land. The King is a gracious ruler and is instrumental in assisting Odysseus in returning to Ithaca.

ANTINOUS
He is the leader of the suitors that besiege Penelope, and the other suitors copy his cruelty and greed. He mistreats Odysseus when disguised as a beggar on his return to Ithaca. He is unashamed of his behavior and is a totally evil man. He is the first to be killed by Odysseus. He is aided by Eurymachus, another important suitor.

EUMAEUS
Odysseus' faithful swine-herd who plays an important part in assisting Odysseus to regain power, he is a caring man who offers hospitality to Odysseus when he is disguised as a beggar.

EURYCLEIA
She is a devoted old nurse of Odysseus and Penelope and is first to recognize her master on his return.

HELEN
Helen was the daughter of Leda and Zeus and she became the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, Agamemnon's brother. Being the daughter of Zeus, she was immortal. Zeus mated with Leda in the guise of a swan and Helen was hatched from and egg and brought up as a member of the royal family of Sparta. Menelaus and Helen were initially very happy, but Paris the heir of King Priam of Troy visited Sparta and with the help of Aphrodite the goddess of love, gained Helen's affection. Stealing part of Menelaus' treasury, the pair eloped. Agamemnon assembled a great army to aid his brother, and they held siege to the city of Troy for ten years. Helen's beauty was unsurpassed and hence the saying, ‘The face that launched a thousand ships'.

Throughout her stay in Troy, Helen was treated as a proper wife and not a mistress. After the fall of Troy, Helen and Menelaus were reconciled and apparently lived happily ever after.

LAERTES
He is the aged father of Odysseus who leads a private life on a small farm in the hills of Ithaca. He remains active and in good physical shape, despite his age.

MENELAUS
King of Sparta and husband of Helen, it is Menelaus' brother Agamemnon that organizes the expedition to Troy. He engages in single combat with Paris with a view to settling the dispute between the Greeks and Trojans. He won the battle, but was prevented from killing his rival by the intervention of Aphrodite. She owed Paris a debt because he judged her more beautiful than Hera and Athena. His reward was to receive the love of Helen who was the most beautiful woman on earth. Menelaus has a similar experience to Odysseus on his return from Troy, as he too experiences a series of misadventures on the return voyage. When Menelaus died, he went to live in the Elysian fields with his immortal Helen.

MENTOR
He is a faithful friend of Odysseus and tutor to Telemachus, Odysseus' son. Athena often disguised herself as Mentor when walking among the mortals.

NAUSICAA
Daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete, she is a beautiful young maiden portrayed by Homer as being innocent and virtuous. Although just in her adolescence, she is attracted to the naked Odysseus when they first meet.

ODYSSEUS
King of Ithaca, son of Laertes, husband of Penelope and father of Telemachus, it is his adventure that is covered in The Odyssey.

Homer emphasizes that this hero not only has physical prowess, but also an astute brain, and it is his cunning that helps bring about the fall of Troy and the escape from Polyphemus, the Cyclops. His determination and quick thinking enable him to escape many dangers.

PENELOPE
The wife of Odysseus, she remains loyal to her husband for nearly...
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