Menelaus  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In Greek mythology, Menelaus was a king of Sparta, the husband of Helen, and a central figure in the Trojan War. He was the son of Atreus and Aerope, and brother of Agamemnon king of Mycenae and leader of the Greek army during the War. Prominent in both the Iliad and Odyssey, Menelaus was also popular in Greek vase painting and Greek tragedy; the latter more as a hero of the Trojan War than as a member of the doomed House of Atreus.

Trojan War

In a return for awarding her a golden apple inscribed "to the fairest," Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world -- Helen. After concluding a diplomatic mission to Sparta, Paris absconded to Troy with Helen in tow. Invoking the oath of Tyndareus, Menelaus and Agamemnon raised a fleet and went to Troy to secure Helen's return; the Trojans were recalcitrant, providing a casus belli for the Trojan War.

Homer's Iliad is the most expansive source for Menelaus' exploits during the Trojan War. In Book 3, Menelaus challenges Paris to a duel for Helen's return. Menelaus soundly beats Paris, but before he can kill him and claim victory Aphrodite spirits Paris away inside the walls of Troy. In Book 4, while the Greeks and Trojans squabble over the duel's winner, Athena inspires the Trojan Pandarus to kill Menelaus with his bow and arrow. Menelaus is wounded in the abdomen, and the fighting resumes. Later in Book 17, Homer gives Menelaus an extended aristeia as the hero retrieves the corpse of Patroclus from the battlefield.

According to Hyginus, Menelaus killed eight men in the war, and was one of the Greeks hidden inside the Trojan Horse. During the sack of Troy Menelaus killed Deiphobus, who had married Helen after the death of Paris. While looking for Helen, Menelaus resolved to kill her; Euripides tells us that when he found her, however, her striking beauty prompted him to drop his sword and take her back.<ref>Andromache 629-31.</ref>




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Menelaus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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