For Real Friday: Scapegoating

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy

Troy fell because of a beautiful woman. At least that’s what we’re taught. Helen was a trojan scapegoat and if you go back before her the entire thing was the “fault” of the goddess Nemesis. Rarely is Paris blamed. Even more rare are the tensions between the two factions involved in the war brought up.

Helen spent her entire mythical life reduced to an object. She was a thing that Theseus wanted, she was a prize Paris won, she was a face that launched a thousand ships, she is the thing that destroyed Troy. Rarely is she viewed as a person with thoughts and wants and agency. Rarely is the reality that she was a young woman who was abducted since childhood with an alarming frequency brought into the story. Modern day adaptions love to make Helen a lovesick girl unconcerned for the fate of her people. She’s painted as this spoiled, vain, selfish creature and everyone forgets it takes two to tango. That as prince of Troy, Paris had a greater responsible to consider the impact of his actions, and that’s assuming she was abducted with consent. I almost never see the Trojan War portrayed as a horror story where Paris abducts an unwilling woman. I wonder why that is?

Society loves to blame the victims, especially when they’re women. If a man cheats on his wife it’s his wife’s fault for not being enough and his mistresses fault for tempting him. When a man rapes a woman society bends over backward to pin the blame on her. What was she wearing? Why was she there? She shouldn’t have tempted him.

Though Helen is by no means a major character in my story, I tried to portray her as a three dimensional character and a victim. A person with limited control in a bad situation that just kept getting worse. I tried to address the guilt she would feel, rightfully or not. I don’t know if I accomplished that, but one of my goals is to eventually do a duel-POV prequel with Cassandra and Helen to cover the Trojan War my way.

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