المقدمة: القصة من البداية
(1)Dares’ account is known only in a sixth-century Latin translation based on a lost first-century Greek original; for Dictys’ fourth-century Latin text we have a first-century Greek fragment. For the dates, texts, and identities of Dares and Dictys see Frazer 1966: 3–15.
(2)The anonymous Siege of Troy is the exception to this narrative pattern, moving rapidly over the Argonaut material and the abduction of Helen to get to the poem’s titular subject.
(3)Zeus tormented Prometheus as a punishment for his championing mankind and because of his refusal to reveal the prophecy concerning Thetis. He chained Prometheus to a rock, where an eagle gnawed his liver each day; because Prometheus was immortal, his liver renewed itself each night.
(4)An alternative genealogy has Aphrodite born from the foam (aphros) of the sea. I give here the Greek names of the goddesses. In Roman mythology Hera is known as Juno, Pallas Athena is Minerva, and Aphrodite is Venus.
(5)In the presentation of the play at Shakespeare’s Globe in 2007 it was Paris’ melancholy looks that comically provided evidence of his experience of love.
(6)For accounts of the Judgment of Paris see Lucian Dialogues of the Gods 20, translated as “The judgement of the goddesses” (1969: 384–409), and Lydgate’s Troy Book 2.2369–92. Lydgate’s Paris refuses to judge the goddesses unless they appear naked (2.2747–54). Medieval literature, with its love of dream visions, frequently presents the Judgment of Paris not as a real event but as a vision dreamed by Paris (see e.g. Dares in Frazer 1966: 138-9). The Judgment is also a dream in American TV’s Helen of Troy (2003), where Paris retires to a cave to escape the midday heat and falls asleep, and in Eric Shanower’s graphic novel Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships (2005). The retrial in Peele’s Arraignment ends harmoniously when the goddesses catch sight of Queen Elizabeth I (for whom the play was first written and performed) and are content to acknowledge the monarch’s superior beauty.
(7)On being twin sister to a woman of Helen’s beauty see Eva Salzman’s poem “Helen’s Sister” (2004).
(8)Malcolm Bull reprints a Renaissance painting of Leda and the Swan in which “the eggs are helpfully stamped with the names of their occupants” (2005: 169 and plate VIIIb).
(9)In the Cypria (in Hesiod 1977: 499) Helen is Nemesis’ third child after Castor and Pollux. Helen’s birth is the result of Nemesis’ rape by her father, Zeus. Isocrates also names Nemesis as Helen’s mother (1894, vol. 1, §59: 304). A scholiast on Pindar notes that Hesiod “makes Helen the child neither of Leda nor Nemesis, but of a daughter of Ocean and Zeus” (Catalogues of Women in Hesiod 1977: 191).
(10)Both Hughes (2005) and Schmitz (1990), from whom Hughes clearly takes her information, are incorrect in describing Helen as eight years old in this poem; presumably they were misled by the unexpected collocation “eight score moneths” (Trussell in Shaaber 1957: 425 ).
(11)Pausanias attributes the story to Stesichorus (Pausanias vol. 1, 2.22, in 1918: 365–7). If Helen gave birth to Iphigenia, this gives us an indication of her age when Theseus raped her: old enough to bear children. It is possible that this story is the slander on Helen for which Stesichorus was punished with the loss of his eyesight (Adams 1988: 116).
(12)We can read about the suitors’ oath in fragments from Hesiod and Stesichorus, and in Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis (in Euripides 1972: 368-9); see Spentzou 1996: 305 n12. The oath may have been Hesiod’s invention: he is the first to relate it (Adams: 1988: 99-100).
(13)Quintus of Smyrna tells this story in his Post Homerica (The War at Troy).
(14)The anonymous Gest Hystoriale describes a sacrifice in Aulis but not of Iphigenia (TLN 4655–61). Hesiod reports that Diana turned Iphigenia into Hecate (Catalogues of Women in Hesiod 1977: 205). In Herodotus, book 4 (1965: 276) the Taurians identify Hecate as Iphigenia; but in Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians she is “merely priestess of the goddess” (editor’s note in Hesiod 1977: 205).
(15)Peter Jackson’s recent study of the Indo-European roots of the Trojan War myth cautions that it would be “naive to assume that Stesichorus invented the phantom story ex nihilo” (2006: 85).
(16)The variant was well known to the Renaissance (see Roche 1964: 152–67).
(17)George A. Kennedy (1987: 16) has a total of 17, of whom the last (in a twentieth-century play by Eric Linklater) is Voltaire!
(18)This is also the name given to Paris’ son with Oenone, so Dictys may be confused here.
(19)Paris was also known as Alexander which means “defender.” In Ovid’s Heroides he explains, “When I/Was hardly grown to man’s stature I regained/Our herds by killing an enemy./For that I received the name I proudly bear” (Ovid 1990: 160).
(20)William Morris’s Helen imagines three possible methods of death the Greeks might inflict on her: burning at the stake, slaughter by a knife, or being thrown (in a sack) from the cliffs into the sea (1915: 4).
(21)She also commits suicide in Thomas Heywood’s 2 Iron Age (1632), but at a later stage and for a different reason: old age has destroyed her beauty. In John Gould Fletcher’s “On a Moral Triumph” (1925) she hangs herself when called a “wrinkled harridan” by children, “first taking care to leave behind a note, in which she laid all the blame on Menelaus and his fits of bad temper” (1925: 97).
(22)The “Envoy” to Maurice Hewlett’s “Helen Redeemed” (1913) parallels Helen’s beauty with Achilles’ strength and sees their union as “the marriage of true minds.”
الفصل الأول: سَرْد الأسطورة
(1)This is a strong position in narrative terms, the final elegy, although its strength seems partly undercut by its sentiment—Hector was kind “even to Helen” (Willcock 1976: 276, my italics) and by its change of tone and subject from heroic paean to solipsistic concern: “I mourn for you [Hector] in sorrow of heart and mourn myself also and my ill-luck” (24.773-4). However, Helen’s self-pity is not unusual; Colin Burrow notes that in Homer sympathy regularly “lead[s] to the reaffirming of one’s own grounds for sorrow” (1993: 21).
(2)The parallels between weaving and narrative are long attested. See for example Clader 1976: 5–9, 33; Heilbrun 1990: 103-4, 111; Bergren 1980: passim; Ion in Euripides 1973: 47. Homer twice gives Helen the opportunity to tell her own story: in the Iliad (book 3) she does so with weaving, in the Odyssey (book 4) with words. On Achilles with his lyre and Helen with her tapestry as two forms of the poet see Austin 1994: 38 and 38, n21. Isocrates relates how Helen came to Homer at night and ordered him to compose a Trojan epic. Helen is thus responsible for the Iliad: “partly owing to the genius of Homer, but chiefly through her, his charming poem of universal renown was composed” (1894: §65, my italics). On Horace’s depiction of Helen as a poet see Putnam 2006: 92. Andrew Lang’s “Palinode” (the octave of which is addressed to Helen, the sestet to Homer) presents Helen as a poet (Lang 1923). In “Helen at the Loom” George Lathrop depicts Helen’s relief at being in control of her material (in both senses).
(3)Shakespeare’s Cleopatra is similarly concerned with artistic afterlife in the dominant seventeenth-century genre of drama: “Some squeaking Cleopatra” shall “boy my greatness” (Antony and Cleopatra 5.2.250). Whereas Homer’s Helen is concerned about the effect of (mis)representation on her reputation, Shakespeare’s Cleopatra is concerned about the effect of (mis)representation on her regality.
(4)Nor does he think about regaining Helen when he does fight, even though this is technically the reason for the war.
(5)For a good account of this absent material, and Homer’s knowledge of it, see Lattimore 1961: 20–8. Some of the absent material is probably purposeful omission of details familiar to Homer’s audience; some, however, comprises post-Homeric additions.
(6)Analyzing “abruptness,” “jolts,” and “partially undigested” material in Homer, Burrow observes that “the Homeric poems are generously capacious: they leave later writers space to invent motives” (1993: 11-12).
(7)The epic cycle additions are extant only in fragmentary summaries; they are available in a Loeb parallel-text edition of Hesiod (1977). For an analysis of the epic cycle see Burgess (2001).
(8)Quintus’ association with Smyrna, long considered doubtful, has been reexamined and accepted by the poem’s most recent translator, Alan James.
(9)In the BBC film version of Troilus and Cressida (1981) Helen is a silent presence in 2.2, the scene in which the Trojan council debate whether to return her to Greece. In the 2008 Cheek by Jowl production of the play in London, she is on stage “throughout the battles, reminding us that she is the ultimate provocation of war” (Billington 2008). Poetry too inserts Helen—through metaphor. As Martin McKinsey points out, Eumaeus’ complaint that Helen “has been the death of many a good man” (Odyssey book 14, p. 209) reads literally that Helen “cut the legs from under troops of men”; similarly, in Yeats’s “No Second Troy,” Helen “is credited … with having burned Ilium much as if she had wielded the torch herself” (McKinsey 2000: 187 n5).
(10)This in fact is how all perception works. In hearing, auditors do not receive every sound transmitted by the speaker but fill in gaps according to logic (deafness is when the gaps outnumber the received words, making the auditor incapable of completing the sense). In night driving, the brain connects remarkably little visual data into a road, a bend, a hill.
(11)For an extended analysis of this aspect of Helen see Gumpert 2001.
(12)In Homer the aim is simply to regain her. Revenge is a later addition, first implied in the epic cycle (in the Little Iliad; in Hesiod 1977: 519). There is no evidence that female adulteresses were ever punished by death in the fifth century BCE (see Patterson 1998; Cohen 1991: ch. 5).
(13)On both occasions the Greek simply reads, “thus he spoke.”
(14)The same Sanskrit root leads to Latin gnavus/navus = “diligent,” “assiduous”; i.e., working for knowledge.
(15)Part of the word’s negative, fearful meaning comes from its punning association with the River Styx (which means hateful, something that makes you shudder), as Hesiod explains, “And there dwells a goddess who makes the immortals shudder, awful Styx, eldest daughter of Oceanus” (Theogony in Hesiod 1988: 26).
(16)On the relation between these two texts see Maguire 2007: 91–109.
(17)Henry Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang convey this more overtly in their novel The World’s Desire when Helen lifts her veil to the Sidonian. “When he saw her loveliness he stopped suddenly as one who is transfixed by a spear” (1894: 233). The simile is telling: an image of disaster, of death. In the seventeenth century Daniele Bartoli notes Nicostratus’ reaction to Zeuxis’ painting of Helen: he was mesmerized “as though he had seen not the head of Helen, but that of Medusa, he remained as though of stone” (cited in Colantuono 1997: 161). For images of petrification in the rhetoric of Renaissance art see Cropper 1991. Even children’s literature adheres to this: climbing a wall to glimpse Penelope through a window, Tony Robinson’s Odysseus “froze. He knew at once who it was: she was thirteen or fourteen and she was incredibly beautiful. It was Helen” (1987: 18).
(18)I am indebted to Ben Morgan for this reference.
(19)The causes of the several destructions are varied: internal conflict; fire; earthquake; external attack; fire again. The nine numbered Troys (I–IX) subdivide into 47 phases of construction/habitation (Wood 2005: 19; Latacz 2004: passim).
(20)The parallels between Pandora and Helen are overt in Hesiod’s Works and Days, where the phrase used to describe Pandora—“fearfully like the immortal goddesses”—is Homer’s description of Helen in Iliad 3.158. West’s translation (1988: 39) reads dilutedly, “model upon the immortal goddesses’ aspect the fair lovely form of a maiden.”
Ericthonius, son of Vulcan by Athena or by Earth, was hidden by Athena in a chest and given to Cecrops’ daughters to guard without opening. They disobeyed, were horrified by its contents (something serpentine) and leapt from the Acropolis to death.
The beautiful Feather Woman fell in love with the beautiful Morning Star and was taken from earth to live in the sky. She spent her days gardening but was told not to dig up the Great Turnip (which plugs the hole between sky and earth). Curious, she disobeyed and brought death and unhappiness into the world.
(21)In seasonal myths the earth-mother divides into two characters, a mother and a daughter (as in the Demeter-Persephone myth) to “express the stages of summer-fullness and of spring rebirth after the wintry death” (Lindsay 1974: 186). The story of Demeter-Persephone has exact parallels in Sumerian myth in the story of Dunuzi and Geshtines (see Armstrong 2005: 52).
(22)At other times myth copies its model precisely. The stories of Moses and Jesus offer what Plutarch would call “parallel lives.” Each is threatened with death as a baby by tyrannical fiat. (Moses’ story here parallels other birth stories from the ancient Near East. For example, the mother of King Sargon of Akkod protected him by putting him in a box of reeds which she set afloat on the Euphrates; Reinhartz 1998: 5). Each delivers the law of their respective religion (Moses in the Ten Commandments, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount). For each a new spiritual identity is heralded by water (the crossing of the Red Sea; baptism in the River Jordan). Each spends a period of 40 days or years in the wilderness. The story of Moses is itself modeled on creation myths in which a god splits water to create the world. The narrative innovation in the Moses myth is that “what is being born is not a cosmos but a nation” (Armstrong 2005: 96).
(23)As Mercea Eliade notes, “symbolism does not depend on being understood” (1958: 450).
(24)Throughout Greek myth, gods shine and dazzle. They wear shining clothes, have gleaming hair, are associated with light. In Luke’s Gospel, when two men in dazzling clothes appear inside Jesus’ empty tomb, we are meant to understand from this sartorial semiotics that they are angels. When Jesus is transfigured, the four Gospels agree in telling us that his face shone. On the ways in which Christianity harnessed Homer see Coupe 1997: 106.
(25)The story is told by Herodotus 1965: 381.
(26)Herodotus describes a shrine of Helen at Therapnae (1965: 381), Pausanias a temple of Menelaus. Isocrates says both Menelaus and Helen were worshiped there as gods, not as heroes (1894: §63).
(27)Other narrative innovations—such as hanging—are also likely to be anthropomorphizing adaptations of a tree goddess religion. Pausanias relates that Helen was hanged at Rhodes by a vengeful widow of the Trojan War. The specific location, Rhodes, suggests that this is a variant of the Helen dendritis tradition. The parallel ends of the sisters Phaedra and Ariadne—both hanged from a tree—suggest the origin of each as a tree-goddess (Clader 1976: 70). The power of the tree-goddess structures the opening of Miranda Seymour’s novel The Goddess (1979); Helen as matriarchal deity is the subject of Linda Cargill’s To Follow the Goddess (1991).
(28)Most editors emend the folio’s “a fear” to “afeared,” including the RSC Shakespeare, which is an edition of the Folio text.
(29)Penelope in the Odyssey is similarly nostalgic, reminiscing about Odysseus’ leadership—“if ever there was such a man” (book 19, p. 295).
(30)In Homer Odysseus and Diomedes steal the Palladium from Troy.
(31)In Thucydides’ analysis Agamemnon was power-hungry (1972: 39-40).
(32)On the importance of the Trojan War to subsequent literary and political narratives see Waswo 1997.
(33)Derek Walcott writes, “ten years’ war was … an epic’s excuse” (Omeros, 56.3.11; p. 284).
(34)In the London version this ending to act 1 was replaced by a dialogue between Cassandra and Helen.
الفصل الثاني: الجمال
(1)The Latin reads: “primo Helenam speciositate nimia refulsisse” (delle Colonne Griffin 1936: 83).
(2)John Pollard similarly refers to Helen as a woman “whose only fault was that she was too beautiful” (1965: 145, my italics). Cf. Ovid’s Paris in the Heroides who tells Helen “I find more now than I was promised by the goddess and you exceed by far that promise” (1990: 152-3).
(3)The production was directed by Sam Mendes; Helen was played by Sally Dexter.
(4)The antistrophe can be found in Helen in Euripides 1973: 179, but the translation smoothes over the textual difficulties. Austin (1994: 177–82) provides a literal translation, indicates the lacunae, and chronicles the difficulties in reconstructing and interpreting.
(5)Helen, in John Erskine’s novel The Private Life of Helen of Troy, defines the central problem of beauty as insufficiency, not the insufficiency of an individual but of beauty itself: “In the presence of great beauty all men seem to be inexperienced. There isn’t enough of it, I suppose, to get used to” (1926: 36).
(6)In literature Helen regularly talks of her beauty as a curse. In Ovid’s Heroides she laments, “I wish beauty had passed me by” (1990: 172). In The Private Life of Helen of Troy, Helen observes, “They always said I was beautiful, but the only effect I could notice was that they treated me as if I weren’t a human being” (Erskine 1926: 140). Disguised as a commoner, Linda Cargill’s Helen enjoys the “novel sensation” of guards “glancing at me indifferently” (1991: 23). Mark Haddon’s Helen (2002) bonds with her newborn daughter because “it was the first time I had ever been loved by someone who did not care what I looked like” (this replays, in stronger form, her fascination with her ataraxic suitor, Menelaus: “he looked through me. It was the first time in my life I had ever felt invisible”). Sara Teasdale’s Helen talks of her beauty as the gods’ “cruel gift” (1937: 9). Delmore Schwartz’s Klymene pities one “chained to so beautiful a body” (1979: 115). Only the Chorus in Goethe’s 2 Faust does not see beauty as a bane: “For supreme good fortune is yours alone/In the fame of beauty, excelling all” (8516-17). In Sonnet 6 of John Erskine’s sequence about Paris, it is Paris who feels the pressure of Helen’s beauty (1922: 137).
(7)Shakespeare will later express the pivotal moment between knowing you should conclude with Helen and being unable to do so in the adversative conjunction “yet.” In Troilus and Cressida Hector offers 27 lines of axiological argument as to why Helen should be returned to the Greeks, but concludes in favor of retaining her: “yet ne’ertheless/I propend to you/In resolution to keep Helen still” (2.3.193–6). The contrasting conjunction “yet” is unspoken in Aeschylus but the hinge is there. The Chorus cannot articulate Helen’s beauty (because, as they realize, it cannot be articulated: “beauty no thought can name”) and yet they cannot stop themselves trying to do so. Their subsequent four lines are chrestomathic clichés. Helen herself encounters this problem in Goethe’s Faust when she meets the absolute of ugliness: Mephistopheles/Phorycas. She tries to describe her/it before conceding “Yet I waste breath; for ever vainly words attempt/To recreate and recompose the forms we see” (2 Faust 8692).
(8)Faced with a more prosaic extreme in Vanity Fair, that of the hangover of Joseph Sedley from too much rag punch at Vauxhall Gardens, Thackeray also employs the tactic of omission: “agonies which the pen refuses to describe” (1977: 95).
(9)A parallel episode of transferred representation occurs in art history in Apelles’ (c. fourth century BCE) complaint about a student artist who had lavished gold on his painting of Helen: “Because you knew not how to paint her fair, you have made her rich.” The incident, first reported by Clemens Alexandrinus, is narrated by Franciscus Junius (librarian to the Earl of Arundel) in The Painting of the Ancients (1638, book 2, ch. 6, §2, sig. Q4r; the Latin edition is 1637).
(10)The frequency with which Butler sees landscapes “in terms of painters he liked” perhaps recalls his own abandoned ambition to be a painter (Butler 1970: 264n).
(11)My informal survey of editions of Tristram Shandy in libraries, second-hand bookstores, and private collections has so far revealed only one reader (John Scholar) who has accepted Sterne’s invitation.
(12)I am grateful to David Summers for this reference. On the absent or off-stage representations of God and the godlike see Taylor 2001 and Daileader 1998.
(13)In 1576 Thomas Rogers took Zeuxis to task for his presumption in painting Helen when “neither Homer by eloquence, nor any man by imagination, should conceive the like” (sig. U4r).
(14)For Helen figures in the novel, see ch. 6. For Homeric echoes and structures in both To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway see Hoff (1999) and Wyatt (1973).
(15)In his Iconologia Cesare Ripa uses a naked woman as the emblem of beauty (first Italian ed. 1593).
(16)On the early modern equation of nakedness with “absence or deficiency of language” see Neill 2000: 411-12.
(17)Variants of this phrase occur in Ibycus, Sappho, Plutarch, Pindar, Hesiod, and Homer. Later literary tradition consistently portrays Helen as blonde. In the medieval Gest Hystoriale we read, “[t]he here of hir hede, huyt as the gold,/Bost out uppon brede bright on to loke” (TLN 3021). Shakespeare’s Pandarus tells us that Cressida’s hair is “somewhat darker than Helen’s” (Troilus and Cressida 1.1.41-2). There is nothing unusual about this in terms of beauty. Paris is traditionally blond, almost every medieval heroine is blonde, and in Marlowe’s Dido Queen of Carthage blond is the Trojan norm: Aeneas’ description of the sack of Troy includes “virgins half-dead dragg’d by their golden hair” (2.1.195).
(18)Heroines and gods in Greek drama such as Alcestis in Euripides’ Alcestis (1974: 38) and Dionysus in his Bacchae (Euripides 1973: 206) also have curls. Ciliary curls are attributed to both Aphrodite and Medea in Hesiod’s Theogony.
(19)See e.g. Fra Angelico, Jacques-Louis David, Evelyn de Morgan, William Morris, Antonio Canova. Curls had a long reign as the capillary desideratum for both men and women. Chaucer’s Pardoner’s blond hair is deemed ugly partly because it refuses to curl (General Prologue 675–9). Cf. Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, whose hair “will not curl by nature”; 1.3.98-9 (Theobald’s emendation for F’s “coole my nature” is universally accepted, including by the RSC Shakespeare editors whose copy text is the Folio). Absalon has curly golden hair in Chaucer’s “Miller’s Tale.” Curly hair is praised in Gest Hystoriale TLN 3968, 3757 and in Lydgate’s Troy Book 2.4550. A French manuscript of the fifteenth century (an illustration from the Works of Christine de Pisan) depicts Paris with blond curls (BL Harley MS 4431, fol. 129).
(20)It is this tradition that Shakespeare mocks in Sonnet 130: “I never saw a goddess go,/My mistress when she walks, treads on the ground.”
(21)Since Achanes is a child, this may mean no more than that Cupid imitated his childlike gait. But since Cupid is himself a child, the inference holds: the divine paediatric gait is different from mortal childlike movement.
(22)In his essay “On Beauty” Francis Bacon considers movement more important than features (1985: 189).
(23)The fake female in Aristophanes’ The Poet and the Woman (Thesmophoriazusae) wears a yellow dress and perfume. When later called upon to play Helen, he says that he is appropriately dressed for the role. This may mean no more than that he is dressed as a woman; but it may refer to the color of the dress he is wearing. In Derek Walcott’s Omeros (1990) Helen is characterized throughout by a controversial yellow dress. When Verena, the Helen character in Jane Stanley’s novel A Daughter of the Gods (1886), attends a ball, her dress is “a most artistic combination of bronze velvet and pale yellow, embroidered in gold” (1886, vol. 2: 96). (For Walcott and Stanley see chapter 6.)
(24)Clothes, like their wearers, shine, as in Penelope’s “shining veil” in Odyssey book 16, p. 252. See Hughes (2005: 106-7) on the saturation of clothes with olive oil to create this luminous effect.
(25)What is true of humans and gods is true of other sites of beauty too: effect is more illustrative than description. Sidney’s Arcadia tells us “we can better consider the sun’s beauty by marking how he gilds these waters and mountains” (1977: 63). This tradition is Platonic in origin: beauty is the reflected splendor of the divine countenance (see Rogers 1988: 67, citing Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s Symposium).
(26)Later writers developed this reaction, not just comparing the beautiful woman to a goddess but mistaking her for one. We see this in the Gest Hystoriale (TLN 13808), in Lydgate’s Troy Book 2.3653-4, and in Shakespeare’s romances.
(27)Laud Troy Book TLN 3067–76; Gest Hystoriale TLN 3538–64; Lydgate’s Troy Book 2.4296; Siege of Troy TLN 664-5; Caxton’s Recuyell 1894, vol. 2: 538-9.
(28)Hecuba anticipates Menelaus’ change of heart in Euripides’ The Women of Troy. She tries to dissuade Menelaus from returning to Sparta in the same ship as Helen because she knows his thoughts of vengeance will evaporate when he gazes on Helen’s beauty.
(29)The translator marks Lampito’s Spartan dialect with Scottish forms. Dictys narrates another version of this. Achilles first plans to kill Helen in public (Frazer 1966: 84). After the sack of Troy, it is Ajax who proposes killing Helen. Menelaus’ love for Helen is such that he petitions for her life (unmotivated by her appearance: neither she nor her breasts are in sight). It is the intercession of Odysseus with persuasive speech that saves Helen’s life.
(30)Joseph’s source for this episode was the anonymous Excidium Troiae.
(31)In Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania (1621) Philargus suspects his wife of infidelity, and repeatedly threatens her with death: by drowning, by burning, by being dragged naked through thorn bushes. But when he catches sight of her breast (“a most heavenly breast”), he stands stock-still in admiration and offers his wife a two-day reprieve to confess (1995: 13).
(32)For Stopford Brooke, “only one passage, that about the breasts of Helen and the sword, seem to me awkward in conception” (1900, vol. 1: 137). In Ben Jonson’s The Staple of News it is Hermione who has beautiful breasts, and Helen is praised “for a mouth!” (4.2.9). Jonson may have read Gest Hystoriale, which describes Helen’s lovely lips (“lippus full luffly, as by lyn wroght”; TLN 3049). The author of Gest Hystoriale takes his description from Guido, with one silent editorial omission: that Helen’s lips “ad oscula auidis affectibus inuitabant” (sig. d4r; Curry 1916: 66 n2).
(33)The poem, as Stopford Brooke first realized, is Roman rather than Greek in ambience. Lucretius’ devotion is to duty (stern, rigid) rather than to beauty, and “the sense of the beautiful as a part of life does not appear in the poem” (1900, vol. 1: 136). Consequently Helen’s beauty is not presented holistically.
(34)This tradition is recorded by Pliny (1968, vol. 33, §23: 63) among others. The tradition was later eroticized: Henri II of France (1519–59) complimented his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, by modeling his drinking goblet on the size of her breast (Yalom 1997: 68).
(35)The noun in Greek, malon, is the word for apple or any other tree fruit (pomegranate is another common translation) and is a common metaphor for breasts. Here the sequence of lines means literally “don’t despise the young girls, for softness resides in their tender thighs, and blossoms in their apple/breast/pomegranate.”
(36)Duffy here overlaps “beauty” and “sex symbol” but they are not always complementary categories. In fact the latter is defined by a focus on breasts rather than on facial beauty; breasts draw attention away from the face. I am grateful to Elisabeth Dutton for this observation. However, in Marlowe’s Dr Faustus outstanding female beauty is compared to the breasts of Aphrodite (1.1.161-2).
(37)That Canova was perfectly capable of distinguishing male from female is apparent from his sculpture of Napoleon (large, strong, with rippled muscles) and his head of a female dancer (with flowers in her hair), both in Astley House, London.
(38)I am grateful to Kathryn Loveridge for this reference.
(39)This, at least, is the general meaning but it is a difficult image, perhaps best glossed as “and you look pretty good in drag too.”
(40)The phrase was used in Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène (at the ENO in London’s Coliseum, 2006) where it describes Paris, a young Toby Spence (in the ENO casting) to Felicity Lott’s Helen (25 years Spence’s senior); but it is equally applicable to the gender-fluid Helens of this section. Not in Hesketh-Harvey’s original typescript, the pun was clearly added or ad libbed in the course of rehearsal or performance.
(41)A poem to Sir John Salusbury on the occasion of his marriage compares him to Paris, to the latter’s disadvantage. Paris is “beautiful,” “manlike,” “with face so feminate,” but Salusbury is even more so; consequently “Helen revives to love sweet Salusbury” (XXI, 25, 27, 21, 30; 1914: 30, 29). I am grateful to Katherine Duncan-Jones for this reference.
(42)Lyly’s detail was clearly not an error; when he revised his text, he kept this paragraph intact. Euphues first appeared in 1578; a revised edition appeared in 1579.
(43)A character called Dares appears in the Iliad (5.9ff).
(44)For Hector’s lisp see Barbour’s Bruce (Curry 1916: 73). For Hector’s stammer see Lydgate 2.4648.
(45)Curry (1916: 48) identifies the first qualification of Briseis’ monobrow as a defect in Tzetzes (1150), followed a decade later by Benoît.
(46)The verbal portraits are accompanied by illustrations, although the scale is too small to represent details such as Helen’s scar. Sylviane Messerli points out (personal communication) that Helen’s portrait on folio 25r is separate from those of the women (which begin on folio 28r). Helen’s portrait is followed by the men; Briseis effects the transition from warriors to women.
(47)This personal feature contrasts with the gap teeth of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, which “becam [her] weel” (Chaucer 1987: Wife of Bath’s Prologue, line 603). In Richard Brathwaite’s commentary on the Wife of Bath’s prologue (1665: sig. I5v), Brathwaite links the Wife of Bath’s gap teeth with Venus’ mole: the former “became her well, even as Venus’ mole made her more lovely.” This is the same Richard Brathwaite who cited Helen’s scar in a poem in 1621 (Nature’s Embassy); he is clearly taken by the notion of a defect enhancing beauty (a topic I shall explore in the next section).
(48)In Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida Thersites enters with the rhetorical question “Agamemnon, how if he had boils, full, all over, generally?” (2.1.2). Curry (1916: 76-7) suggests that in Lydgate’s case the King of Persia’s warts are a misunderstanding and mistranslation of Guido’s faciem lentiginosam (sig. E2v) and lentignosa facie (sig. E2r).
(49)If Lyly foregrounded the scar tradition, Thomas Heywood foregrounded the dimple. Alone of all the later revisers John Masefield picks up this issue and gives his Helen neither a scar nor a beauty spot but a monobrow (1923: 35).
(50)For extended discussion of this material I am indebted to my colleague and former student, Ben Morgan. In particular, in the second part of this section his assistance comes closer to co-authorship.
(51)Hence our habit of using gods’ names adjectivally—martial, venereal—because they are the essence of the category.
(52)The same linguistic dilemma obtains in Antony and Cleopatra where Enobarbus cites Cleopatra’s emotional exudations as inimical to metaphor: “we cannot call her winds and waters sighs and tears; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can report” (1.2.147–9). If Enobarbus sees Cleopatra as an absolute of woman and therefore beyond language, Cleopatra sees Antony as the absolute of men; in her attempts to describe him, comparison becomes recursively redundant. He is a “man of men” (1.5.72) and “lord of lords” (4.8.16). Consequently metaphor “devolves upon itself to become mere tautology” (Bates 2002: 200). The Laud Troy poet anticipates this tautology when he introduces King Cilydis, the most beautiful man alive: “His fairnes might no man discryve,/No man myght his fairnes say” (TLN 5260-1). The second line duplicates the first; faced with beauty it cannot describe, language is reduced to repeating its inability.
(53)Almost all commentators on Chaucer’s Criseyde and Shakespeare’s Cressida agree that Criseyde’s/Cressida’s situation is an action replay of Helen’s, mutatis mutandis.
(54)Lord Bonavida’s speech reveals Heywood’s medieval reading here in which Helen is only the most beautiful woman in Greece; it is Polyxena who is the most beautiful woman in Troy. Some medieval versions (the anonymous Siege of Troy, Caxton’s Recuyell, the Laud Troy Book) offer the alternative tradition—the tradition which was to become the dominant one—that Helen is the most beautiful woman in the world.
(55)This is true of all forms of beauty—poetry, for instance. In Ian McEwan’s Saturday, a violent intruder is stopped in his tracks by the poetic beauty of Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” which his victim recites to him (2005: 217–24).
(56)I am grateful to Jonathan Gil Harris for this suggestion.
(57)These examples occur in the dedicatory letter to Sir William West prefaced to the 1597 edition of The Anatomy of Wit. I am grateful to Leah Scragg for drawing this to my attention.
(58)This is the view of Henry Fielding in Joseph Andrews (1742) when he describes Fanny Price, the 19-year-old previously dismissed by Mrs Slipslop “on account of her extraordinary beauty” (1977: 65). When Fielding later details Fanny’s beauty, his details include innumerable flaws; e.g., two smallpox scars, and teeth that, though white, “were not exactly even” (1977: 155).
(59)This work is a translation from Plutarch and others, but this observation seems to be Grant’s addition. I am grateful to Kirsty Milne for this point and for the reference to Grant.
(60)Pliny reports that Helen had a cosmetic to combat old age; he identifies it as helenium. When mixed in wine, this same herb banishes sorrow (1969, vol. 21, §91: 273-4). Homer’s Helen is seen to possess such a herb in the Odyssey book 4 (see also Edwin Muir’s poem “The Charm”). But it is poets not cosmetics that defeat age, as Chiron observes in Goethe’s 2 Faust: “The poets freely choose her changing face./She never need grow up, grow old,/Or lose her looks” (7429–31).
(61)Without naming her, Wilfred Owen invokes Helen in “The Kind Ghosts” (1918), which contrasts the equanimity of the sleeping Helen with the generosity of the permanently sleeping boys who died for her.
(62)The unfinished story was published in 1966, along with the comments of Green and Fowler.
(63)The transformation of Elfine in Cold Comfort Farm (1932) creates the most frequent effect of beauty: love. Richard Hawk-Monitor realizes “not that Elfine was beautiful, but that he loved Elfine” (Gibbons 2006: 158).
(64)The heavy mythological superstructure, cumbersome allegory, and antiquated language are partly responsible for the novel’s failure. For the National Observer’s devastatingly bad review of the novel see Green 1946: 134.
(65)John Ogle had anticipated them in 1594 when he described Helen as “Beauty’s existence” (sig. D2v).
(66)Katy Littlewood offered a version of this in 2004 when she directed a student production of Euripides’ Helen at Magdalen College, Oxford. Three actresses were chosen to play the role of Helen. The triple casting was partly a practical response to the size of the role, partly an aesthetic response to the Diane Kruger problem outlined above, and partly an embodiment of the production’s keynote question blazoned on the poster campaign: “The most beautiful woman in the world—who does she think she is?” Delmore Schwartz approached the casting challenge in the same way in his theatrical poem of 1941, “Paris and Helen: An Entertainment.” In his projected cast of characters he alternately cast four actresses as Venus: Greta Garbo, Myrna Loy, Hedy Lamarr, and Dame May Whitty (Schwartz 1979: 105). To him a convincing representation of Venus was obviously more difficult than that of Helen, whose role is confidently assigned to Madeleine Carroll. One quarter of his Venuses, Hedy Lamarr, later played Helen in the film L’Amante de Paride (1954). Coincidentally this Helen was also a quartered role: Lamarr’s character has four reincarnations of which Helen is one.
(67)He has also commented on her stature in Memoirs 1972: 40.
(68)Oliver Taplin explains how the Iliad “became a nationalist epic” from the fifth century CE onward (1992: 110). Austin relates this to the nationalist plot of Euripides’ Helen, designed “to remove Helen’s body from all foreign beds once and forever” (1994: 143).
(69)Similarly the Greeks in Quintus of Smyrna’s account, when they see Helen/home, forget their previous reviling and see in her only perfection.
(70)The goddess Circe manipulates nostalgia in the opposite way, encouraging Odysseus to forget his fatherland.
(71)Delmore Schwartz’s poem “Paris and Helen” is structured round nostalgia. The Dioscuri, dead in their native land, contrast with the exiled Helen who is fearful that Venus will take her “further from home” (Schwartz 1979: 123) and with the “expatriate American,” never mentioned by name (Ezra Pound), who “puts old Greek into modern English” (115), “speaking Greek/Perception, and Greek passion” (116). “Nostalgia is the easiest emotion,/Helen must suffer it, despite her beauty” (115). Schwartz’s view of the past parallels Theodore Weiss’s view of Helen: both renew themselves in poetry. “How the past/Once in a poem, has more lives than a cat!” (Schwartz 1979: 116); “Helen, it seems, is more herself the more she’s reproduced” (Weiss 1988: 953, lines 37-8).
(72)Talking of nationalism, Schwyzer explains that the “project of bringing a nation into being” has as “one of its prerequisites … the absence of a fully realized nation” (2004: 75).
(73)For Schiller (1967: 5) beauty is a mystery and that is its attraction. (Hence Paglia’s—or Western art’s—equation of beauty with the mysterious smile.) George Santayana (1955: 19) and Northrop Frye (1970: 66) agree. The technical phrase for this mystery in seventeenth-century continental philosophy is the je-ne-sais-quoi; see Bouhours (1960) and Scholar (2006).
الفصل الثالث: اختطاف هيلين
(1)Briseis lost her husband and three brothers on one day (19.282–30) in the same campaign in which Andromache lost her father and brothers, also slain by Achilles (6.414–24).
(2)Medieval narrative combines or confuses the two rhyming females, Briseis and Chryseis, with a new character, Criseyde, who becomes the lover of the Trojan prince Troilus.
(3)It is not the loss of Briseis that pains and angers him so much as the personal insult to his valor and status. As he later explains, he and Agamemnon are equals; to have his “prize of honor” confiscated is to be treated like a “dishonored vagabond” (16.53, 54, 59).
(4)Bia implies unwillingness, but unwillingness need not imply force. In classical thought, force (bia) is commonly opposed to persuasion (peithō) and trickery (dolos), which are the other means of getting an unwilling person to do something. The contrasts or parallel with Helen’s abduction—which was accompanied by persuasion (of Helen) or trickery (of Menelaus) or force (of Helen) is an interesting one. The respective value of each method is a matter of controversy (explored by Gorgias; see chapter 4). I am grateful to Florence Yoon for the points in this paragraph.
(5)Phoenicia was a collection of city states, organized along Greek lines, occupying the area known in the Bible as Canaan and today as Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian territories.
(6)In Herodotus, value, and how value is determined, is a practical rather than ethical activity. Long notes that the Phoenicians, bargaining people, are “peculiarly accustomed to fixing values and prices” (1987: 47).
(7)For the ancient Greek belief that women experience greater sexual pleasure than men and therefore can never be unwilling see Walcot 1978: 141.
(8)The participial phrase (my italics) is designed to prevent us viewing Helen’s information as special pleading. She is speaking to Hecuba, Queen of Troy, who is surely in a position to contradict this information were it false.
(9)Chaucer himself suffered—or benefited—from the ambiguity of the category raptus in the accusation brought against him by Cecily Champaigne. A summary of this case might read, she thought he raped her (in the modern sense of the word); he thought she consented (Ackroyd 2004: 83–6; Chaucer 1987: xxi-xxii).
(10)I am indebted to Marion Turner for drawing my attention to this passage and the passage on incest in book 3, and for invaluable discussion on their implications.
(11)This is the action that Shakespeare’s Cressida will later present as submission to prevent rape: “upon my back to prevent my belly” (Troilus and Cressida 1.2.260).
(12)T. E., the author of The Law’s Resolution of Women’s Rights (1632), could be glossing this episode when he talks of rapists’ arguments that “a careless liberty in [women’s] behaviour” was “an infallible argument of sensuality,” and therefore an invitation to violence (390). Although T. E. wishes he could persuade women not to behave in such ways, his censure is directed at those who misinterpret this behavior.
(13)The atmosphere in the BBC film (directed by Jonathan Miller) was threatening throughout, as the manipulative verbal treatment threatened to become physical: Cressida was forced into a semisupine position in her tent, with Diomedes pressing towards her, leaning over her, physically restraining her. A similar atmosphere of constraint was created by the set in the RSC production of 1990, directed by Sam Mendes. Cressida’s tent was represented by steel ladders, and she looked as if she were behind prison bars.
(14)For extended discussion of this in Shakespeare see Maguire 2007: 78–119. For rape in Romeo and Juliet see Watson and Dickey (2005).
(15)See Kahn and Hutson 2001, Sheen and Hutson 2005, Hutson 2007, and Thompson 2008.
(16)For an excellent account of consent in T. E. and in Shakespeare see Sale (2003).
(17)For an explanation of the contexts of statute change (“each had its own story and a reason for being told”) in Elizabeth’s parliaments see Dean 1996: xiii and passim. The abduction debate is part of Parliament’s concern “with ordering the household” and “punishing those who challenged the stability of the household” (16).
(18)Sir Simonds D’Ewes records the readings in his journals (D’Ewes 1682: 551, 552, 555).
(19)The will (National Archives PROB 11/89) was written on Jan. 3 and proved on Feb. 3 and proved again (? or entered in the PCC?) on Mar. 14. Stoite describes himself as being “aged and weak of body yet of perfect mind and memory” in January; a month later he was dead.
(20)Alice’s abductor, Donnington, was tried and acquitted in London; what happened to him at the assizes in Dorset I have not yet discovered. Alice was returned to her family in Dorset and whom she subsequently married is unknown (the Dorset records do not begin until 1651).
(21)Cf. Measure for Measure in which Angelo asks Isabella to agree to her own violation.
(22)In Homer et al. the name is often used both for the country and for the city.
(23)I am grateful to Robert Parker for this reference.
(24)One of his variants, “Helen ye pearle of Greece,” may have caught Shakespeare’s eye for use in Troilus and Cressida (2.2.81).
(25)A later Thomas Watson (d.1686) has a “Helen Graeco” in a Latin marginalium about beauty in Heaven Taken by Storm (1670).
(26)Without using the specific collocation, Faustus too associates Helen with Greece rather than Troy, promising the students that they will see “that peerless dame of Greece.”
(27)Given Menelaus’ injunctions to Helen not to struggle in Morris’s Scenes from the Fall of Troy, this poetic drama may also end with rape.
الفصل الرابع: اللوم
(1)Ovid’s Heroides, by contrast, presents Helen’s ambivalence as a flirtatious technique.
(2)Pollard notes that Eve, Pandora, and Helen are judged by the “repercussions on others,” not “by their degree of personal guilt” (1965: 161-2).
(3)The earliest MS is ninth century CE but the original was probably written sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries CE (Atwood and Whitaker 1944: xv).
(4)The Latin dialogue is of such banal simplicity that one can only imagine it being used as a textbook for language tuition (Anon/Atwood and Whitaker 1944: xviii).
(5)In 1909 Alfred Williams’s Helen suggests that the Greeks are more to blame “who for one feeble woman, drew/With one consent a world to strife” (111).
(6)In English, “faultless” can be a reference to Helen’s flawless beauty or her faultless actions. In Greek the word is amōmētos (a variant of the more usual amymōn) whose primary meaning is blameless, although in Quintus, who uses the word three times, it always refers to physical beauty (see Parry 1973: 83). I am grateful to Florence Yoon for talking me through the Greek complications here.
(7)Different versions of Helen’s story present her attendant as the mother of Theseus or as a totally separate character who just happens to share a name with Theseus’ mother. Homer’s designation of Aethra as “Pittheus’ daughter” leaves no room for doubt (3.144).
(8)Maionia is an old name for Lydia, in the centre of Asia Minor.
(9)This is an instance where narrative logic (not a high priority in epic) is sacrificed to emotional need: the father was killed in book 5 (Willcock 1976: 152). He is here resurrected when his son is slain so that we can share his anguish.
(10)For a discussion of doubled episodes in the Odyssey (which unfortunately, does not include this one) see Fenik 1974.
(11)“Guilt” is clearly a term with Christian connotations; the Greek reads, “Helen … is the cause of many evils for Greece.”
(12)Despite the gap of five hundred years Pollard’s point is essentially the same as Caxton’s in his Recuyell; Helen’s problem, Caxton states, is a general female problem: curiosity. Having heard of Paris’ great beauty, Helen “after the custom of women … had great desire to know by experience if it were truth that she heard speak of” (Caxton 1894: 530, my italics).
(13)This is a Latin translation of Benoît’s Roman de Troie, although Guido says it comes from Dares and Dictys.
(14)The phantom myth is believed to originate with Stesichorus’ “Palinode,” a poem we know only from Plato’s quotation of it in Phaedrus §243a-b. For a reinvestigation of the relationship between Plato’s quotation and its alleged origin in Stesichorus, see Wright 2005: 83–90, 99–105, who argues that Plato’s argument is full of spurious references. We might note here that Stesichorus’ (alleged) palinode, in which he recants his slander of Helen (for which he had been struck blind) and in which he rehabilitates Helen’s reputation through the eidōlon story, is a double exculpation: he rescues himself from blindness and Helen from blame.
(15)“Defense,” like “encomium,” is a technical generic term: the latter is a eulogy, the former an argument of vindication. Despite its title, Gorgias’ work is a defense, not an encomium (although its playful nature perhaps makes it a mock encomium).
(16)He makes this point again later when he lists the “blessings” of the Trojan War, of which the greatest is Greek national independence.
(17)When Chaucer refers to his source in Dares, he means Joseph of Exeter (Joseph/Roberts 1970: ix).
(18)Bate (Joseph/Bate 1986: 168) suggests an analogue in Dido’s banquet for Aeneas
(19)Bate interprets this phrase as premature ejaculation. Kennedy (1987: 9) views it as a euphemism for fellatio.
(20)When Helen is reunited with Menelaus, the poet replays the line of her meeting with Paris: “Ether kyssid oder and were acord” (TLN 1902).
(21)This is a version of Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Destructionis Troia.
(22)This complaint recurs in most medieval Troy books. It is reinforced in the weavers’ song in Thomas Deloney’s later prose narrative Jack of Newbury (1626) where the weavers, naturally, approve of Penelope’s spinning, and conclude that disaster would have been averted “had Helen then sat carding wool” (sig. F2r).
(23)The book was sold in the Houghton sale at Christie’s of London on June 11 and 12, 1980, lot 362, for £14,000.
(24)Bullen edited the poem in the nineteenth century; he collated both the 1589 and 1604 texts. I quote from Bullen’s text because it has the convenience of line numbers. Where variants between the two printed versions are an issue, I quote the two versions separately, relying on Bullen’s representation of the 1604 text. However, as will be evident below, Bullen’s edition is not reliable in all details.
(25)1589: “will be no better rulde”; 1604: “will not be oreruled.”
(26)I retain the edition’s italic and modernize spelling.
(27)The apparent paradox is rooted in the difference between blame and responsibility. Those texts (e.g., the Iliad) that point the finger of responsibility at the gods view them as agents of action, not as figures of blame. To say the gods are responsible is a fact, not an accusation. In Greek mythology gods behave badly, not immorally.
(28)In a self-defeating circularity typical of early modern revenge tragedy he says (four times) that he now must take revenge for Hector’s death.
(29)Contrast the sacrifice of Iphigenia.
(30)As McKinsey notes (2002: 182), this unfulfilled form reflects the unfulfillment of the poet.
(31)It is notable that at the time Shakespeare was revising women’s roles in myth—a project he pursues in the problem plays with Isabella replaying Lucrece’s predicament (but refusing to become a martyr, a role for which her position as novice nun admirably equips her) and with Helen and Cressida’s reputations being recuperated in All’s Well That Ends Well and Troilus and Cressida—he was simultaneously exploring how one might escape “being.” Troilus and Cressida are aware of their roles as historical lovers, destined to betray and be betrayed. Yeats’s question “What could she have done, being what she is?” applies to Cressida.
(32)Agnes Latham betrays an anachronistically twentieth-century sensibility when she glosses “Helen’s face, but not her heart” in As You Like It as follows: “few if any of Shakespeare’s audience would pick up the reference and know that he was saying Rosalind was as beautiful as Helen but more chaste” (3.2.140).
(33)The respective texts are Greene, Ciceronis Amor; Lodge, An Alarm Against Usurers; Fenne, Fenne’s Fruits; Parry, Moderatus.
(34)Little St Helen’s, now called St Helen’s Place, is one street north of Great St Helen’s, the street in which John Crosby in Heywood’s 1 Edward 4 desires his last resting place: “In Little St Helen’s will I be buried” (sig. D3r).
(35)This reference occurs in a scene that textual critics attribute to Shakespeare’s collaborator (possibly George Peele). John Stow invokes “Helen, mother to Constantine” in his Chronicles of 1589, as does Lodowick Lloyd in 1590 (The Consent of Time), Antoine de la Faye in 1599 (A Brief Treatise), Henry Timberlake in 1603 (The Travails of Two English Pilgrims), and John Wilson in 1608 (English Martyrology). In 1612 Michael Drayton repeats the formula three times in Polyolbion.
(36)We recall the “rolling eye” of Helen in ch. 45 of the English Faust book.
الفصل الخامس: هيلين وتراث فاوست
(1)The English translator is known only by his initials, “P. F”; John Jones (1994: 26–34) makes a convincing case for identifying him as Paul Fairfax, an Englishman who had traveled in Germany.
(2)Goethe changes Faust’s pact with the devil to a wager between God and Mephistopheles. Although in scene 7 Faust enters into a contract with Mephistopheles, its terms are vague (“sometime later/Wages in the same kind will then fall due”; 1658-9). David Luke comments that this bargain “seems to be an artistically necessary concession by Goethe to the old Faust tradition” and “its importance is immediately played down” (Goethe/Luke 1987: 555 n33).
(3)The earliest extant English edition is dated 1592, but an Oxford inventory of late 1589 contains what is almost certainly an English edition of the Faust book (Fehrenbach 2001).
(4)All references are to John Jones’s 1994 edition and are by through-line numbers. For convenience, I also provide chapter numbers.
(5)This quotation is P. F.’s addition to his original.
(6)This detail is P. F.’s addition to his German original.
(7)There is tautology here in the English. The EFB reads “suddenly the globe opened and sprang up in height of a man: so burning a time, in the end it converted to the shape of a fiery man” (115–17, ch. 2). Since the grammatical subject is consistently the globe, the sentence must mean (awkwardly): the globe became a burning man then a fiery man. In German the man-height stream of fire extinguishes itself and then reforms as a fiery man (Anon. 1988: 17).
(8)These encouragements are P. F.’s additions.
(9)This chapter is considerably expanded by P. F. from the German. He adds animal details (e.g., the specificity of hog, worm, and dragon), extends the list of animal forms in which the devils appear, adds new dialogue between Faust and Lucifer about shape and transformation, and describes the emotional and physical effects on Faust of the therioform devils.
(10)The terror and the two-hour time scheme are P. F.’s addition.
(11)The A-text reads “Enter [MEPHISTOPHELES] with a Devil dressed like a woman, with fireworks” (2.1.151SD, my italics). The B-text reads “He fetches in a woman Devil” (2.1.146SD, my italics). The A-text thus explains how the B-text effect is achieved.
(12)This pedagogical promise is P. F.’s addition.
(13)P. F. omits a phrase from the German, which reads “fair and rosy-cheeked like milk and blood mixed” (omission in italics).
(14)As in Marlowe, Faustus seems not to know what to ask for. Marlowe’s Mephistopheles appropriately promises Faustus “more than thou hast wit to ask” (A-text and B-text, 2.1.47).
(15)P. F.’s endearing explanatory literalism occasions one of his additions here: the pregnant Helen is only pregnant “to his [Faustus’] seeming” (2668, ch. 55, my italics). As devils are incapable of creation, pregnancy is a technical impossibility. The pregnant Helen is doubly an illusion.
(16)On function: the German Faust Book informs us that Faustus prefers to walk rather than ride (on horseback or in a carriage). The EFB adds an explanation for Faustus’ preference: on foot “he could ease himself when he list” (2392-3, ch. 46). “Ease himself” can mean either urinate or defecate (Jones glosses it as the latter). Either way it is a supererogatory insertion in narrative terms but consistent with P. F.’s interest in the body.
(17)The Duchess of Anholt is the only “real” female character. The wife in act 1 and Helen in acts 2 and 5 are devils; the alewife is a stock caricature.
(18)Even Goethe’s Faust indulges a momentary libidinous impulse when he first sees Helen.
(19)Damnation, then, as defined by Mephistopheles, would seem to have attractions: “Hell hath no limits” (2.1.124). Hell in short is a metaphysicians’ (or at least a Faustian) paradise.
(20)By the end of the play, however, in an unsurprising theophobic volte-face, Faustus will be begging for the reimposition of limits: “Oh God,/…/Impose some end to my incessant pain./Let Faustus live in Hell a thousand years,/A hundred thousand, and at last be saved./No end is limited to damned souls” (5.2.98, 101–4).
(21)Productions rarely attempt a realistic Helen, opting instead for devils in drag or property objects. In the 1974 RSC production, directed by John Barton, Helen was a puppet with a blonde wig, manipulated by Mephistopheles; in the 1970 RSC production, directed by Gareth Morgan, a straw wig on a mop represented Helen. Often the devil who represents the wife in 2.1 represents Helen of Troy at the end.
(22)See Riggs 2004: 318-19 for a discussion of the Dutch Church libel in which controversial views, posted on the wall of the Dutch churchyard in London, were signed “Tamburlaine.”
(23)On the autobiographical relevance of both Faust and Homunculus to Goethe see Goethe/Luke 1994: xxxiv–xxxvii.
(24)To avoid confusion, I refer to Goethe’s texts as 1 and 2 Faust; I call Clifford’s Part One and Part Two. References to Goethe are by through-line number; references to Clifford are by page number. For an interesting joint exploration of Marlowe and Goethe see Keefer 2004.
(25)A version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, corresponding in many respects to the text of Q1 (1600), survives in a German edition of 1781.
(26)Lyric, epic, opera, operetta, masque, procession, allegory, choral ode, folk tale, and comedy are just some of the many forms incorporated in Faust.
(27)Cf. Hatfield 1987: 77: “a remarkably irrelevant scene.”
(28)In conversation with Johann Eckerman, Goethe’s secretary and live-in companion during his last decade, Goethe said that poetry should be both frag-mentary and difficult (Goethe/Luke 2 Faust 1994: xvii; 1 Faust 1987: xlvi). Eckerman published his Conversations after Goethe’s death.
(29)The philosopher James Kirwan offers an explanation of the relationship between time and ecstasy, which is transferable to Faust: “Paradise is never here and now, for one cannot be conscious of being entirely happy; the moment I become absolute, in ecstasy, the ‘I’ disappears; such a moment is timeless, but the ‘I’ that wanted ecstasy no longer exists. Thus time, as finitude, separates us from paradise now, yet time causes paradise to come into being—then” (Kirwan 1999: 68). This explains why Goethe’s devil loses the wager.
(30)“Das Heidenvolk geht mich nichts an”—literally, “Heathen folk don’t do it for me” (Goethe 1949: TLN 6209).
(31)The Astrologer voices two of the topics of ch. 2: Helen is not beautiful, but is beauty itself; and her beauty is associated with excess.
(32)One of Goethe’s early subtitles for the Helen fragment written in 1800 was “Helena in the Middle Ages” (Goethe/Luke 1994: xli). In becoming a medieval knight Goethe’s Faust fulfils the ambition of Marlowe’s Faustus (“I will … wear thy colours on my plumèd crest”; 5.1.98–101).
(33)In German the nouns are “Sage,” “Märchen”: tale, fairytale.
(34)Goethe critics agree that the references to Helen and Paris as Luna and Endymion refer to an engraving by Le Sueur.
(35)There is similar acoustic self-consciousness when Heywood’s Helen moves between rhyme and blank verse in 1 Iron Age (1632).
(36)In Omeros (1990) Derek Walcott describes rhyme as “language’s desire to enclose the loved world in its arms” (13.3.14-15).
(37)Euphorion is an allegory of Byron, revealed Goethe, although this identification was an afterthought. His name is the Greek form of the Latin “Faustus.”
(38)http://clem.mscd.edu/~holtzee/odyssey/helen.html accessed June 7, 2008.
(39)In her afterword George reverts to the mode of the critics cited above when she talks of Helen’s story as “culminating” in Marlowe’s “famous” line, the “ultimate description of Helen” (2006: 608).
(40)“A thousand” is used as a round figure for a large number in Virgil’s Aeneid, as in book 2’s description of “death in a thousand forms” (1981: 62).
(41)Cf. the use of “a thousand” in Dido 2.1.175, 185; 5.1.39.
(42)In 1909 Arthur Symons, questioning whether prose could compare with poetry as being “the best words in the best order” (1927), used Marlowe’s lines as a test case for comparison (challenging the conclusion of W. J. Courthorpe, Oxford professor of poetry, who had used the same lines for the same purpose).
(43)In this paragraph I take my lead from Flax’s explanation of romantic parody in McMillan 1987: 43-4. The Schlegel quotation is cited by Flax.
(44)I have modernized Schlegel’s spelling.
(45)The generically fluid nature of modern fiction means that parody has left the novel for other more traditional genres. Journalism is probably our last stable genre; hence the British satirical newspaper Private Eye can flourish, piggybacking as it does on journalistic staples from the tabloid press to the parish magazine.
(46)He acknowledges wryly that “from a professional point of view I should rejoice in this./Machismo is such a useful tool./The destructiveness it causes is beyond belief” (49).
(47)The conversation is replayed on p. 68 before the appearance of Gretchen, the innocent young girl with whom Faust falls in love.
(48)Paris’ effeminacy is often ridiculed by male characters in twentieth- and twenty-first-century texts, while being an attraction for Helen (see Drew 1912: 11; Drew 1924: 24SD; Haddon 2002).
(49)Although this geographic boundary occurs in Goethe, it is not made relevant to the thematically liminal as it is in Clifford.
(50)Helen is used as a sexual noun in Schiller’s Mary Stuart, where it functions as an insult to Mary—she is “a Helen.” As we shall see, this is exactly the synecdoche that Clifford’s Helen seeks to overturn.
(51)This rejection of gender stereotypes applies even in the Witch scenes, where Faust is surprised that the witches’ spells do not sound like those in Shakespeare’s and Middleton’s Macbeth. “You mustn’t believe all the stuff you see on the commercials, dearie./It doesn’t rhyme,” a witch explains (Clifford 2006: 67). The Hollywood film The Truth about Cats and Dogs (1996) had similarly used Helen’s name as a shorthand for the damage caused by overvaluing female beauty in male-female relations. Dr Abby Barnes (Janeane Garofalo), a vet with a call-in radio show, falls in love with one of her callers, Brian, yet convinces herself he would not be attracted to her were he to see her. When Brian suggests a meeting, she arranges for her tall blonde neighbor (Uma Thurman) to stand in for her. Asked for the truth at the height of the confusion, Abby expostulates: “The truth is Helen of Troy! Helen of Troy!” The 15-year-old protagonist of Mark Schultz’s play A Brief History of Helen of Troy (2005) feels similarly burdened by the beauty of her dead mother. In Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love (1998) the recently deceased textual critic A. E. Housman feels no such pressure. Arriving in the underworld, he expresses interest in meeting Benjamin Hall Kennedy, the classical scholar after whom Housman’s academic Chair was named. Charon remarks that this is not usually the first request of the newly dead. “Who is?” inquires Housman naively. The response: “Helen of Troy” (1998: 2-3).
(52)Diary, Aug. 2, 2007. Marjorie Garber analyzes the segregated lavatory as the key site of gender difference in Vested Interests: Cross Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (1992).
الفصل السادس: مُحاكاة هيلين
(1)Since my discussion concerns only book 3, I omit the preliminary 3 from all canto references.
(2)Hamilton (9.42.9n) notes that this comment about Aeneas’ regret of his marriage is added by Paridell to his Virgilian source.
(3)Marlowe’s Dr Faustus later halves the number of Cupids: “Enter HELEN again … passing over between two Cupids.” (This stage direction exists only in the B-text, 5.2.93.)
(4)When performed by boys, as in the original Elizabethan production, this effect might have been more (or less) obvious.
(5)In his poem La Belle Hélène (1878), about attending a performance of the opera, Edgar Fawcett resigns himself to Offenbach’s opera as the lesser of two evils: better to parody the classics than to forget them.
(6)The production was directed by Laurent Pelly; Kit Hesketh-Harvey provided the English translation/adaptation.
(7)The director, Laurent Pelly, also designed the costumes.
(8)Coincidentally Offenbach had originally planned a musical parody of Wagner’s Tannhäuser but was overruled by his librettists (Traubner 2006). For a lucid account of the development of the opera see Traubner 2003: 45–50.
(9)I have not found any copies of this film in American libraries, although the Library of Congress owns a two-page synopsis. According to the synopsis, the missing material includes the Judgment of Paris (the goddesses are listed as Aphrodite, Hera, and Thetis, although the attached cast list correctly offers Athena instead of Thetis); Helen’s disillusion with Paris who snores just like Menelaus; Paris’ irritation at Helen’s sartorial extravagance; Helen’s attempts to end the war (thwarted by the Trojans); and the wooden horse. Two stills, available on the Web and copyrighted to Getty Images, show episodes not in the BFI fragments.
(10)The film won an Oscar for its intertitles in the first year of the Academy Awards.
(11)Elisabeth Dutton, personal communication.
(12)See Wilfrid S. Jackson’s Helen of Troy, New York (1904) and Mrs Burton Harrison’s The Story of Helen Troy (1881), for examples. Jackson’s novel was made into a musical comedy by Bert Kalmar in 1923, titled Looking for the Happy Ending (but sometimes also known by the title of Jackson’s novel).
(13)Kate Payn teases the heroine Verena about her aversion to being photographed, revising Scott’s lines from “Lady of the Lake” for the purpose (vol. 1: 235). In vol. 2: 213 Kate reassures her mother, who is losing her in marriage, that she has another daughter; Tennyson’s lines from “The May Queen,” pressed into service here, do not include Kate’s comments about curling tongs and female hairstyles. The novel is in two volumes; all references are to volume and page number.
(14)This review is quoted in an advertisement for the book in The Daily News of May 26, 1886.
(15)Hurst and Blackett specialized in popular novels, publishing the work of Mary Braddon (author of Lady Audley’s Secret), Mrs Oliphant, and “John Halifax, Gentleman,” for example. Stanley’s novels were also published and widely publicized in the USA.
(16)For the parallels between Clarissa’s parties as an “offering” and Septimus Warren Smith’s suicide as a Girardian sacrifice, see Wyatt 1973. On the Homeric world of the novel generally, see Hoff 1999.
(17)I am grateful to John Scholar for observations on Woolf and Joyce in this paragraph and throughout this section.
(18)References to Omeros are in the form: chapter/section/line.
(19)John van Sickle sees in the name of Achille’s ancestor, Afolabe, a Greek etymology: apo = from, away, and labé = take (1999: 23). Afolabe’s name means “taken away,” even before he is captured as a slave.
(20)Although this is typical of Helen narratives, it is unusual in Omeros, where everyone’s interiority is examined at length. The poem’s events are primarily emotional.
(21)Boswell’s Past Ruined Ilion provides wide coverage of Helen poems, but the list has expanded considerably since 1982. In addition to the novels cited in endnotes throughout this book, see Nye (1980), McLaren (1996), Franklin (1998), Pollard (2004), and Elyot (2005); in 1956 Warner Brothers released a book of the film: Helen of Troy—The World’s Greatest Love Story. For a screenplay (adapted from his stageplay) see Miller (2003). Political and religious uses of Helen are at their height in the early modern period: see Rainold 1563: Gir-v; Buchanan 2004: 79; and Fuller 1799: 153-4 (a late-eighteenthcentury transcript of a seventeenth-century speech delivered by Charles I). I am grateful to Thomas Roebuck for these three references. For religious uses see Pikeryng’s Horestes, lines 538–601 (where the satire is conveyed by using the tune of a popular song about Mary Queen of Scots to words about Clytemnestra and Helen; Axton 1982: 158) and Bridges (1587) where Helen is compared to the Roman Catholic mass. For philosophy and politics see Camus (2000).