Notes for

Ovid, Heroides V


Andromache:  Wife of the Trojan hero Hector, Paris' brother.  The union of Andromache and Hector was often cited as an example of a happy and devoted marriage.

Antenor:  An elderly Trojan, described as a wise counselor.  He advised returning Helen to the Greeks.

Apollo:  One of the Olympian gods, son of Jove and Leto.  Apollo was a god of healing, of prophecy, and of music and poetry, as well as a sun-god.  He was famed as an archer.  His sister was Diana, goddess of the hunt, of chastity, and of the moon.  He wooed both Cassandra (see note on "your sister") and Oenone (among others); he gave Cassandra her power of prophecy and Oenone her knowledge of the arts of healing.  Apollo was supposed to have built the walls of Troy.

Atreides:  Menelaus.  "Atreides" means "son of Atreus."  Menelaus was the younger son of Atreus; Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae and the leader of the Greek expedition against Troy, was his elder brother.

builder of Troy's walls:  The god Apollo.

Danaeans:  Another name for the Greeks.

Deiphobos:  Son of Priam and brother of Paris.  Deiphobos was one of the most effective Trojan warriors.  According to later writers, he married Helen after Paris' death and before the fall of Troy.

Faunus:  A forest god, associated with fertility; often represented as having characteristics of both a man and a goat (including a goat's horns).  

fleet was ready:  Paris is preparing to sail for Sparta, the home of Menelaus and Helen.  According to some accounts, Paris was sent on an official embassy to Sparta.  While Menelaus was away in Crete, Paris left with Helen.

fountain:  Oenone was a Naiad, sometimes called a "Nymph of the Fountain."  

Greek heifer:  Helen.

Hector:  Son of Priam and brother of Paris.  Hector was the greatest of the Trojan warriors.  In the Iliad, he is not especially patient with Paris and Paris' choices.  Hector is eventually killed by the Greek warrior Achilles, who defiles his body and only returns it for burial after a personal and very courageous plea from Priam himself.

Hecuba:  Wife of King Priam of Troy; mother of Paris.

Helen:  Wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta.  Helen was the daughter of the human woman Leda and the god Jove, who came to her in the form of a swan.  She was generally acknowledged to be the most beautiful and desirable woman in the world, and all the kings of Greece wanted to marry her.  Her human father (or step-father), Tyndareus, was afraid that fighting would break out among the disappointed suitors, so he delayed selecting a husband for Helen.  Ulysses suggested that Tyndareus make all the suitors swear an oath beforehand to defend the rights of the one who was finally chosen, so that anyone who tried to interfere with the marriage would face massive opposition.  This was done, and Helen was married to Menelaus, king of Sparta.  So when Paris eloped with (or abducted) Helen with the aid of the goddess Venus, all the kings of Greece joined together in an expedition to bring her back from Troy.  The marriage of Paris and Helen led to the Trojan War and the eventual destruction of Troy.

Ida:  Mountain near Troy; home of the Naiad Oenone.

Juno:  Queen of the gods; goddess of matrimony and childbirth.  Daughter of Saturn and Rhea; sister and wife of Jove.  Mother of Mars and Vulcan.

judgement:  The famous episode known as the "judgement of Paris."  A prophecy said that the Nereid Thetis would have a son who was mightier than his father.  Jove, who had had sexual designs on Thetis himself, decided to forestall any threats to his own power by having her marry a human, Peleus (she subsequently gave birth to the Greek hero, Achilles).  All the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, except one--Eris, the goddess of discord.  In retaliation for the snub, Eris inscribed a golden apple with the words "for the fairest" and threw it into the midst of a group including the goddesses Juno, Venus and Minerva.  Each goddess claimed that the apple was intended for her.  When they could not agree, they appealed to Jove to settle the dispute and award ownership of the apple.  Jove did not want to make a decision in such a delicate matter (after all, Juno was his wife, and Venus and Minerva were his daughters), and so he appointed Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy, to act as judge.  Each goddess tried to bribe Paris--Juno with a kingdom, Minerva with wisdom, and Venus with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.  Paris awarded Venus the apple.  As a result, Paris got Helen as his wife.  When he took her from the household of her rightful husband, the Spartan king Menelaus, he set in motion the chain of events that led to the Trojan War and the fall of Troy.  For more details on this, see the entry on Helen.  

Laconian:  Helen.  Laconia is a region of Greece.  Helen's original husband, Menelaus, was king of Sparta in Laconia.

Menelaus:  King of Sparta and husband of Helen.  Paris eloped with (or abducted) Helen while Menelaus was away in Crete, starting the chain of events that led to the Trojan War.  For more details on this, see the entries on Helen and on the Judgement of Paris.

Minerva:  Goddess of wisdom and of defensive warfare.  Daughter of Zeus.  Better known by her Greek name, Athene or Athena.  

Mycenaean:  Agamemnon, the brother of Menelaus and brother-in-law of Helen, was king of Mycenae.  The Greek armies that besieged Troy were sometimes called "Mycenaeans."

Nereids:  Sea-nymphs, daughters of the sea-god Nereus and the Oceanid Doris.

new wife:  See Helen.

Nymph:  A demi-goddess or minor deity, generally associated with a natural feature such as a spring or a tree.

Nymph born of a great river:  Oenone was a Naiad, or water nymph, and was the daughter of the river-god Cebrenis, a river in the region of Troy.

Oenone:  Daughter of the river-god Cebrenis and first love of Paris.  Oenone was a Naiad, or water-nymph, of Mount Ida near Troy.  She met Paris and fell in love with him while he was working as a shepherd, and before he was recognized as a son of King Priam of Troy.  According to Apollodorus, the two were married.  Paris later deserted Oenone for Helen.  Oenone had learned the arts of healing from one of the gods or goddesses--from Apollo in Ovid's account, or from the goddess Rhea in Apolodorus'.  She told Paris that if he were ever wounded, she would heal him.  When he was mortally wounded by Philoctetes' arrow, he appealed to her for aid and she refused.  She repented, but did not arrive in time to save him.  She committed suicide, either by hanging herself or by throwing herself on Paris' funeral pyre.

Paris:  Son of King Priam of Troy and his wife, Hecuba.  While Hecuba was pregnant with him, she had a dream that she gave birth to a torch from which serpents came forth.  When the child was born, he was supposed to be killed; he was left exposed to the elements in the countryside and was rescued and raised by shepherds, ignorant of his true parentage.  There he met and married the nymph Oenone.  Later he was recognized and received into the royal household of Troy as Priam's son.  When he was a young adult, he was asked to judge which of three goddesses was the most beautiful--Juno, Minerva, or Venus.  Each goddess tried to bribe him--Juno with a kingdom, Minerva with wisdom, and Venus with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.  Paris chose Venus.  In return, he won Helen as his wife.  (For more details on this episode, see the note on the Judgement of Paris.)  However, Helen was already married to Menelaus, king of Sparta, and after Paris eloped with (or abducted) her, the kings of the other Greek cities banded together and led a military expedition to get her back.  (For more background on this, see the note on Helen.)  The result was the Trojan War, a ten-year siege of the city of Troy that led to its fall.  Paris was famed as an archer, and it was his arrow that killed the greatest of the Greek warriors, Achilles.  Paris in turn was killed by one of the poisoned arrows of Hercules, fired by the Greek warrior Philoctetes.  

Phrygian:  Phrygia was an area in Asia Minor, near Troy.  In poetry, "Phrygian" was often used as a synonym for "Trojan."

Polydamas:  A Trojan warrior, son of Panthoos.  He is noted for his wise advice in the Iliad.  He was born on the same day as Hector and was his companion.  Hector goes out to his death only after ignoring Polydamas' counsel. 

Priam:  The king of Troy and father of Paris, Hector, Deiphobos, etc.  For details of Paris' birth and his ignorance of his true parents, see the note on Paris.

Satyrs:  Creatures of the woods and countryside, generally represented in Roman times as half-humans with the legs and horns of goats.  They were known for their lust, and were often represented as pursuing nymphs.

slave:  In some of the stories about Paris' youth, before his was recognized as a son of Priam, he was the servant of a shepherd.

stolen bride:  Helen.  See the note on Paris for his abduction of or elopement with Helen.

Theseus:  One of the great heroes of Greek legend.  He is especially associated with Athens.  During his youth, he is supposed to have abducted Helen from Tyndareus' home, but to have returned her unharmed.

Troy:  City in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).  Its king was Priam, and it was the home of Paris; it was one of the wealthiest cities of the time.  After Paris brought Helen to Troy, Greek armies besieged the city for ten years, trying to get her back.  They finally got into the city by means of a trick.  They left a huge wooden horse, apparently as a divine offering, and withdrew their troops.  The Trojans brought this "Trojan horse" into the city, believing that Troy could never fall with the horse inside.  The horse was full of Greek warriors, who crept out at night, let the other Greek troops into the city, and then sacked and burned Troy.  For more details on the events that led up to the Trojan War, see the notes on the Judgement of Paris and on Helen.

Tyndarid:  Helen.  "Tyndarid" means "daughter of Tyndareus."  Tyndareus was the husband of Leda, Helen's mother.  Even though Jove was supposed to be Helen's "real" father, she is still referred to as Tyndareus' daughter.  See the entry on Helen.

Venus:  The goddess of love.  She was generally represented as the daughter of Jove and Dione; however, in some accounts she was born out of the foam of the sea.

Xanthus:  A major river near Troy.  Some accounts make Oenone the daughter of Xanthus rather than of Cebrenis.

your sister:  Cassandra, daughter of King Priam of Troy and sister of Paris.  The god Apollo had wooed her and given her the gift of prophecy; when she spurned him, he added a curse--that her prophecies, although true, would never be believed.  She is supposed to have warned the Trojans not to bring the Trojan horse into the city (the horse was full of hidden Greek soldiers, who then sacked the city).  After Troy's fall, she was taken as a concubine by Agamemnon, King of Mycenae; she warned Agamemnon that his wife, Clytemnestra, was plotting his death, but Agamemnon ignored her warning and they both were killed.

 

 

 

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Last updated 06/22/2013