Sunday, September 1, 2019

Yes, Helen Could Have Caused The War

Historians can no longer deny the existence of Troy or the Trojan War, thanks to the advancements of archaeology. Really, the only thing that remains in question now is, why? Why did the Argives (Greeks) attack and demolish the famed City? According to Homer, it was to take back the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta, aka "The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships." Mythologists and historians alike have debated over whether she was kidnapped or truly wanted to leave her husband for a better life in Asia Minor. Many argue that the Greeks would have not started a war over one man's marriage, that the real motive was plunder and power and that Helen, if she had a role at all, was merely the excuse and the open door. 

But as a historian and a mythologist myself, I think that if we look at the circumstances in practical terms instead of romance, we find that Helen, while perhaps not the sole reason, could have certainly created a need for the Greeks to conquer the Trojans. Troy wasn't some commune across the sea, they were an Aegean superpower of the time, whose muscle was no doubt felt by the Greek kingdoms. It's a good bet that tensions existed, perhaps even the threat of invasion on the Greek islands or the mainland. Helen, queen of Sparta, was allegedly not only taken by Trojans, but by the royals of Troy, which makes it a far bigger deal that if some commoner had done it. Naturally, this caused upset in Sparta's government. So not only was Troy a superpower that rivaled the Greeks, they were now even interfering with Greek royal houses. It wasn't simply a Romeo and Juliet for the plays, it was a sabotage of one of the most powerful Greek governments, now threatened with instability that might give the Trojans the ability to attack. Not to mention the intelligence on Sparta and Greece she might be able to give. And for that matter, who was to say the Trojans wouldn't return to other kingdoms and mess with their royal houses as well? Troy simply couldn't be trusted. Did the Greeks go to war over a love affair that insulted Menelaus? No, they went to war to protect their governments from Trojan interference, the first of which was caused by the affair between Paris and Helen. The Greeks had to make sure Troy was no longer a threat to them, whether they retrieved Helen or not.

Imagine if the president of Russia came to Illinois and managed to convince the wife of the governor to come back with him. This greatly angered and had such an impact on the governor and he wouldn't or couldn't come to his office and sign bills or make appointments. In short, the Illinois government fractured and the crack was felt by everyone in the state, and kept you up at night worrying about what information she might be giving the Russians. It would make you pretty angry with Russia, wouldn't it? You'd have a lot of malice and blame to throw across the ocean. You might even manage to convince your neighboring states to join you against the Russian threat and stop it before it becomes too big a problem. We invaded Iraq because we simply feared they might have weapons of mass destruction that were never found. What if we could actually confirm a serious threat? We would no doubt take some form of counteraction against the opposing party.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.