Date of Award

Spring 2013

First Advisor

Thomas Nevin


"Portrayed as victim, whore, and above all, the supreme incarnation of beauty, Helen's story has been told and retold throughout the ages in various forms. Homer's Iliad relates the most famous account of the Trojan War, which she is alleged to have begun. Gorgias wrote a rhetorical defense of Helen, Euripides used her as the subject of one of his tragedies, and Ovid composed a pair of fictional love letters between Paris and Helen. Moderns continued to use her in such works as Offenbach's operetta, La Belle Hélène, Pierre de Ronsard's Sonnets à la Belle Hélène, and paintings by Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon, among others. After so many iterations, though, later writers must have asked themselves the question Goethe poses in the prelude to Faust: "Wie machen wir's, daß alles frisch und neu\ Und mit Bedeutung auch gefällig sei?”1 (ll. 47-48). What, if anything, would yet another representation of Helen contribute to the literary world? Better yet, what could each author do to make his or her own interpretation unique?"


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