bettany hughes: helen of troy

A masterwork by a brilliant Oxford-educated historian, Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore deals with Helen of Troy as a historical and literary figure. Very well-researched, it is scholarly without being boring; erudite without being pompous; interesting without being pretentious.

The book is flooded with facts, and the deluge will leave you breathless under the waves of words, but once you sink into the Late Bronze Age world that Bettany reveals to us, you will float away to a place and time alien to our own, but still a part of it.

Helen may have been a cultic goddess worshipped in trees and other forms of nature; she may have been a version of Aphrodite; she may have been an aristocrat during the days when matriarchy ruled, when the feminine was venerated and revered over the masculine; or she may have been a mixture of all these.

What matters is that she was an empowered female figure, whose personality was magnetic, whose beauty was iconic, whose story became legendary, and today stands for the strength of the feminine, which is in all of us women, if we but claim our right to it.

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