Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Euripides' HELEN Complete

Translated by E. Coleridge.

Euripides Bilingual Anthology  Studies  Euripides in Print


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader
90 pages - You are on Page 2

Helen: Lo! These are the fair virgin streams of Nile, the river that
waters Egypt's tilth, fed by pure melting snow instead of rain from
heaven. Proteus during his life-time was king of this land, dwelling
in the isle of Pharos, and ruling o'er Egypt; and he took to wife
one of the daughters of the sea, Psamathe, after she left the embraces
of Aeacus. Two children she bare in this his palace, a son Theoclymenus,
who hath passed his life in duteous service to the gods, and likewise
a noble daughter, her mother's pride, called Eido in her infancy,
but when she reached her youthful prime, the age for wedded joys,
renamed Theonoe; for well she knew whate'er the gods design, both
present and to come, for she had won this guerdon from her grandsire
Nereus. Nor is my fatherland unknown to fame, e'en Sparta, or my sire
Tyndareus; for a legend tells how Zeus winged his way to my mother
Leda's breast, in the semblance of a bird, even a swan, and thus as
he fled from an eagle's pursuit, achieved by guile his amorous purpose,
if this tale be true. My name is Helen, and I will now recount the
sorrows I have suffered. To a hollow vale on Ida came three goddesses
to Paris, for beauty's prize contending, Hera and Cypris, and the
virgin child of Zeus, eager to secure his verdict on their loveliness.
Now Cypris held out my beauty,-if aught so wretched deserves that
name,-as a bride before the eyes of Paris, saying he should marry
me; and so she won the day; wherefore the shepherd of Ida left his
steading, and came to Sparta, thinking to win me for his bride. But
Hera, indignant at not defeating the goddesses, brought to naught
my marriage with Paris, and gave to Priam's princely son not Helen,
but a phantom endowed with life, that she made in my image out of
the breath of heaven; and Paris thought that I was his, although I
never was,-an idle fancy! Moreover, the counsels of Zeus added further
troubles unto these; for upon the land of Hellas and the hapless Phrygians
he brought a war, that he might lighten mother-earth of her myriad
hosts of men, and to the bravest of the sons of Hellas bring renown.
So I was set up as a prize for all the chivalry of Hellas, to test
the might of Phrygia, yet not I, but my name alone; for Hermes caught
me up in the embracing air, and veiled me in a cloud; for Zeus was
not unmindful of me; and he set me down here in the house of Proteus,
judging him to be the most virtuous of all mankind; that so I might
preserve my marriage with Menelaus free from taint. Here then I abide,
while my hapless lord has gathered an army, and is setting out for
the towers of Ilium to track and recover me. And there by Scamander's
streams hath many a life breathed out its last, and all for me; and
I, that have endured all this, am accursed, and seem to have embroiled
all Hellas in a mighty war by proving a traitress to my husband. Why,
then, do I prolong my life? Because I heard Hermes declare, that I
should yet again make my home on Sparta's glorious soil, with my lord,-for
Hermes knew I never went to Ilium,-that so I might never submit to
any other's wooing. Now as long as Proteus gazed upon yon glorious
sun, I was safe from marriage; but when o'er him the dark grave closed,
the dead man's son was eager for my hand. But I, from regard to my
former husband, am throwing myself down in suppliant wise before this
tomb of Proteus, praying him to guard my husband's honour, that, though
through Hellas I bear a name dishonoured, at least my body here may
not incur disgrace. (Teucer enters.)

First Page ||| Next Page
Euripides Home Page ||| Elpenor's Free Greek Lessons
Aeschylus ||| Sophocles
Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Greek Literature - Ancient, Medieval, Modern

  Euripides Complete Works   Euripides Home Page & Bilingual Anthology
Euripides in Print

Elpenor's Greek Forum : Post a question / Start a discussion

Learned Freeware

Reference address :