Disclaimer: I do not own the Iliad, the Odyssey, or any other aspect of Greek mythology (obviously; I'm a few thousand years too late for that...). This is just a short drabble that came to me while reading up on Helen of Troy for a paper. Enjoy!
My remembrance shall not be kind.
Even now, sitting behind the walls Teucer built, a husband and duty on each side, I know that Ilium shall fall; and when it does, my fate will be in the hands of the gods. Menelaus, I fear, will be unforgiving; but it is what I expect, as well as what I seem to deserve. A woman deserting her husband, for a guest of his household? A woman deserting her Greece for the hated Dardanian city? A woman deserting a wise and powerful king, O my Menelaus, for an air-headed young Prince, a single Prince out of fifty others? No other woman could do so without bringing the terrible wrath of Saturnia, of Minerva, indeed of almost all the gods, down upon her head.
When I am long gone, antiquity shall look at me and call me the whore of Paris, the cause for which so much blood of Ilium and Argos was shed, the woman who escaped the wrath of the gods because somehow, someway, she was blessed with extraordinary beauty.
I did not ask for this "gift" from the gods. Indeed, it is more a curse than anything else, it seems. Were I not declared the fairest woman in all the world, Venus would never have chosen me out for Paris. She would never have used her guiles to take me from Menelaus. Yes, I say "take" me. That is the part of this story that the world will not know. Yes, my marriage was arranged, but I…love Menelaus, I find. He is such a good spouse, such a good man. Our wedding night was the happiest of my life, truly it was—even happier than the night I conceived Hermione. O, my sweet daughter Hermione—will I ever see her again? And if Menelaus ends my life, what shall become of her, the child of the departed and disgraced wife?
When the Trojan delegation came to Sparta, I most certainly noticed the attentions of Paris. How could I not; I have been exposed to such calculating glances and thoughts since my twelfth winter. But I was not interested. Admittedly, Paris—I will not call him 'my Paris' while alone in my thoughts, as I must aloud, for in my heart he is not mine at all—was stunningly handsome, the handsomest Prince of Troy I must say, except perhaps his eldest brother Hector. But no man could ever mean more to me than Menelaus. I suppose I ought to have gone to Menelaus with this—but I was afraid he might act rashly, and start a war. Now I realize that a war on those grounds would have been far preferable to a war whose every casualty rests on my brow.
I awoke at dawn the day of Paris' departure to find he, himself in our bedchamber. I opened my mouth to scream for my Menelaus, and reached for his hand as he lay peacefully beside me—but then the strangest feeling came over me. I could see, yes; and hear. I was aware of all around me, but I could not move my limbs. I watched, as if from afar, the body that was not mine rise. It dressed itself, and packed clothes and favorite jewels, and then took the hand of Paris. I screamed and screamed for my husband, but he did not wake; only then did I realize that no one could hear me screaming.
My sister Clytemnestra and my cousin Penelopeia and I would often talk amongst ourselves, wondering what the arrow of Eros, what the powers of Venus, would feel like. We, silly girls, always thought that one would feel, well, love. If only it were so. The love spells of Venus were the greatest of agonies. My body was saying and doing things like a girl madly in love, and forever in my mind echoed an implanted feeling that I ought to feel love; but in my heart I knew I was under the control of a goddess, helpless to stop the world spinning out of control in front of me. All of these years with Paris—the voyage from Sparta, our marriage and its consummation, all my time at Troy—outwardly I was in love, or at least lust. No one would have cause to believe that I, Helen of Sparta—I say so in defiance, for the world knows me now as Helen of Troy—am living an undying death in Troy, that I did not come here of my own free will. But for the past decade—yes, ten whole years since I have seen my Menelaus, since I have caressed his hair and felt myself safe in his arms. No matter how I may have acted, the dishonorable arms of Paris left me feeling ill, as did those treacherous lips, lips forever in a pout, even unto the moment when, pierced by Philoctetes' arrow and refused salvation by his once-wife Oenone, he at last died—not so long ago, it seems.
The Teucrians are, naturally, horrified by my behavior. Our love was supposed to be so powerful as to provoke this great struggle—but I have shown few signs of mourning. In truth, I do not greatly mourn Paris, and I am not sorry for it. It was not his fault, perhaps—the fault truly lies with Venus, or perhaps with the three deities who laid the judgment before him; or perhaps the fault belongs to Discord, who first set out the golden apple, or perhaps to whoever forgot to invite that deity to some wedding or another, which is rumored to have started it all. So perhaps the fault does not lie on Paris—but I cannot forgive him. Besides, consider my new freedom: the death of Paris broke the spell of Venus. That, indeed, is the only reason I now have control to inscribe my thoughts.
Perhaps someday, in the far distant future, if any person ever has cause to come upon the sad ruins of this city, if by chance, by chance they might discover this, the true story of Helen, perhaps then antiquity will not look on me with such scorn. Perhaps, even now, when the Argive forces flood Troy as they are certain to do, some soldier of my Menelaus will find this account, will bring it to him, and perhaps he will believe the tale, and perhaps he will grant me forgiveness. To live without his love would be pain; but I could not survive without his forgiveness at any cost; even if he were to throw me out into the circle of lands forever, to have a word of forgiveness, any kind word, would make such a better fate than an eternity of unforgiven exile. But I do not dare to dream such dreams.
I am Helen of No Land, at least for the time, betrothed to my fourth husband, and third unwanted one: Deiphobus.
I am Helen of No Land, and my remembrance shall not be kind.