Helen of Troy: The Story Behind the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

Helen of Troy: The Story Behind the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

Paperback Vintage

By (author) Bettany Hughes

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 458 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 203mm x 31mm | 476g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1400076005
  • ISBN 13: 9781400076000
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 16 PP COLOR; 16 PP B&W; 6 MAPS
  • Sales rank: 381,645

Product description

For 3,000 years, the woman known as Helen of Troy has been both the ideal symbol of beauty and a reminder of the terrible power beauty can wield.In her search for the identity behind this mythic figure, acclaimed historian Bettany Hughes uses Homer's account of Helen's life to frame her own investigation. Tracing the cultural impact that Helen has had on both the ancient world and Western civilization, Hughes explores Helen's role and representations in literature and in art throughout the ages. This is a masterly work of historical inquiry about one of the world's most famous women.

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Author information

Bettany Hughes is a cultural and social historian, writer, and television presenter. She received degrees in ancient and medieval history at Oxford University and has carried out research in the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor. She has presented numerous documentaries and historical series for the BBC, PBS, and the Discovery Channel, and also writes pieces on popular history for several newspapers and magazines.

Review quote

" Dazzling. . . A look at the love match between beauty and power, displaying the archetypal ' trophy mistress" to the modern world." - "O, The Oprah Magazine" " A divine biography. . . . Sizzling. . . . [Hughes], a young British historian, explores not only the Bronze Age babe but also what she has meant throughout history and the cultural significance of being both desired and despised." - "USA Today" " [Hughes' ] multi-faceted, multi-hued, and multi-period portrait of la Belle Helene will capture the imagination of professional scholars and general readers alike. I cannot recommend it too strongly." - Professor Paul Cartledge, Cambridge University " Hughes brings a passion for ancient history and archaeology crossed with a strain of feminism to the figure of Helen." - "The Washington Post Book World" " The book triumphantly reclaims Helen from some of her traducers. Hughes' s portrait is as close to a real, living Helen as we are likely to get." - "Financial Times" " When Helen launched her " thousand ships, " was she a " shameless hussy?" Or, like her mother, was she a rape victim? . . . The answers have always depended on who you speak to and when. Hughes has them all." - "The Times" " Hughes skillfully brings this period back to life. A fascinating window onto the power politics of an age . . . a genuinely exciting historical narrative." - "Sunday Telegraph."

Table of contents

Illustrations Text Acknowledgements Maps Timeline Dramatis Personæ Family Trees Foreword and Acknowledgements INTRODUCTION Cherchez la Femme An Evil Destiny Helen-Hunting Goddess, Princess, Whore PART ONE HELEN’S BIRTH IN PRE-HISTORY 1 A Dangerous Landscape 2 A Rape, a Birth 3 The Lost Citadel 4 The Mycenaeans 5 The Pre-historic Princess PART TWO THE LAND OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN 6 The Rape of ‘Fair Hellen’ 7 Sparte Kalligynaika 8 Tender-eyed Girls PART THREE THE WORLD’S DESIRE 9 A Trophy for Heroes 10 The Kingmaker 11 A Royal Wedding PART FOUR KOUROTROPHOS 12 Hermione 13 A Welcome Burden 14 Helen, High Priestess 15 La Belle Hélène PART FIVE A LOVER’S GAME 16 The Golden Apple 17 Bearing Gifts 18 Alexander Helenam Rapuit 19 The Female of the Species Is More Deadly Than the Male PART SIX EROS AND ERIS 20 Helen the Whore 21 The Pain of Aphrodite 22 The Sea’s Foaming Lanes PART SEVEN TROY BECKONS 23 East Is East and West Is West 24 The Fair Troad 25 The Topless Towers of Ilium 26 The Golden Houses of the East 27 A Fleet Sets Sail PART EIGHT TROY BESIEGED 28 Helen – Destroyer of Cities 29 Death’s Dark Cloud 30 A Beautiful Death – Kalos Thanatos 31 The Fall of Troy PART NINE IMMORTAL HELEN 32 Home to Sparta 33 The Death of a Queen 34 The Age of Heroes Ends 35 ‘Fragrant Treasuries’ 36 The Daughter of the Ocean PART TEN THE FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND SHIPS 37 Helen in Athens 38 Helen Lost and Helen Found 39 Helen, Homer and the Chances of Survival 40 Veyn Fables 41 Helen of Troy and the Bad Samaritan 42 ‘Perpulchra’ – More Than Beautiful 43 Dancing with the Devil 44 Helen’s Nemesis APPENDICES 1 The Minotaur’s Island 2 La Parisienne 3 Women of Stone and Clay and Bronze 4 Elemental Helen – She-Gods and She-Devils 5 Royal Purple – The Colour of Congealed Blood Epilogue – Myth, History and Historia Abbreviations Notes Bibliography Index