Menelaus was a king of Mycenaean (pre-Dorian) Sparta, the husband of Helen of Troy, and a central figure in the Trojan War. He was the son of Atreus and Aerope, brother of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and, according to the Iliad, leader of the Spartan contingent of the Greek army during the War. Prominent in both the Iliad and Odyssey, Menelaus was also popular in Greek vase painting and Greek tragedy; the latter more as a hero of the Trojan War than as a member of the doomed House of Atreus. Menelaus fought bravely at Troy, although he did not occupy as important a position as his brother Agamemnon, who was the commander-in-chief of the Greek forces. At one point he agreed to settle the conflict by single combat with Paris, but Aphrodite interfered to prevent the duel from being decisive, and Athene prompted a resumption of hostilities. During his return from Troy, Menelaus' ships were becalmed on the island of Pharos, near Egypt. In order to discover what he should do to obtain fair winds for the journey, Menelaus had to consult Proteus, the old man of the sea. He waited until Proteus had gone to sleep among his herd of seals and then seized him tightly. Proteus changed into many shapes in an attempt to escape, but Menelaus perservered, refusing to let go. Finally Proteus, unable to get free, agreed to answer Menelaus' questions truthfully. He described the sacrifices necessary to appease the gods and gain safe passage across the sea, as well as revealing that the gods would transport Menelaus to Elysium at the end of his mortal life. Menelaus eventually returned safely to Lacedaemon, where he and Helen apparently settled back into happily married life. Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priya-muwa-, which means "exceptionally courageous" He unsuccessfully defended his city during the Trojan War, at the end of which Troy was sacked a second time and was finally destroyed. During the Trojan War, Priam's son Hector was killed by the Greek hero Achilles. In one of the most moving scenes of the Iliad, Priam courageously entered the Greek camp by night and pleaded with Achilles to return Hector's body for burial. Priam himself was finally killed by Achilles' son, Neoptolemus, upon an altar of Zeus in the center of Troy.
Helen of Troy also known as Helen of Sparta, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda (or Nemesis), step-daughter of King Tyndareus, wife of Menelaus and sister of Castor, Polydeuces and Clytemnestra. Her abduction by Paris brought about the Trojan War. Since Zeus visited Leda in the form of a swan, Helen was often presented as being born from an egg. She was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world. When Helen was still a child, she was abducted by Theseus. Since she was not yet old enough to be married, he sent her to Aphidnae and left her in the care of his mother, Aethra. The Dioscuri rescued her and returned her to her home in Lacedaemon, taking Aethra prisoner at the same time. When Helen reached marriageable age, all the greatest men in Greece courted her. Her mother's husband, King Tyndareos of Lacedaemon, was concerned about the trouble that might be caused by the disappointed suitors. Acting on the advice of Odysseus, he got all the suitors to swear that they would support the marriage rights of the successful candidate. He then settled on Menelaus to be the husband of Helen. She lived happily with Menelaus for a number of years, and bore him a daughter, Hermione. After a decade or so of married life, Helen was abducted by -- or ran off with -- Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy. Menelaus called on the other suitors to fulfill their oaths and help him get her back. As a result, the Greek leaders mustered the greatest army of the time, placed it under the command of Agamemnon, and set off to wage what became known as the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, Menelaus...
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