Notes for

Ovid, Heroides XIII


...:  The lines which would be numbered 63-64 are generally considered spurious.

...:  The lines which would be numbered 74-75 are generally considered spurious.

...:  The lines which would be numbered 161-62 are generally considered spurious.

Acastus:  Father of Laodamia.

Apollo:  Also called Phoebus Apollo, or simply Phoebus.  He was a sun-god, as well as a god of poetry, music, and healing; he was also strongly associated with prophecy.  He and the god Neptune were supposed to have built the original walls of Troy.

Argolian:  Native to Argos, a region in Greece (actually, more than one region was called Argos).  Here it is simply a synonym for "Greek."

Aulis:  A port town in Boeotia, a region of Greece.  The Greek fleet, en route for Troy, was held up for some time at Aulis by unfavorable winds.  An oracle informed the Greeks that favorable winds could only be procured by the sacrifice of one of the children of Agamemnon, who was the leader of the Greek forces.  Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia, on the altar of the goddess Diana, and the fleet was able to sail on to Troy.

Boreas:  The north wind.

Danaeans:  Another name for the Greeks who fought at Troy.

Dardanus, Dardanian:  Dardanus was a mythical ancestor of the Trojans.  He was a son of the god Jove.  Here, "sons of Dardanus" or "Dardanian" mean simply "Trojans" or "Trojan."

daughter of Leda:  Helen.  For additional details on Helen's birth, see the note on Leda.

foul adulteress:  Helen, who was with Paris, rather than with her husband, Menelaus.

Haemonian:  Haemonia was another name for Thessaly, the region in which Phylace, the home of Laodamia and Protesilaus, was located.  Haemon was the father of Thessalus, and names for the region were derived from both.

Hector:  Son of King Priam of Troy and brother of Paris.  He was the greatest of the Trojan heroes, and is supposed to have been the warrior who killed Protesilaus.  He himself was finally killed by the Greek hero Achilles.

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.  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 Paris' home in Troy.  The marriage of Paris and Helen led to the Trojan War and the eventual destruction of Troy--and also to the death of Protesilaus.

Ida:  A mountain near Troy.

Ilium:  Troy.  Troy was called Ilium after Ilus, the legendary founder of the city.

Inachian:  Inachus was the mythical first king of Argos, a region of Greece.  Here Inachian seems to be used simply to mean "Greek," in much the same fashion that "Argolian" is.  Inachus was also the name of a river in Argolis in Greece.

Iphiclus:  Father of Protesilaus; father-in-law of Laodamia.  

Jove; Jove of Returns:  Jove was the king of the gods, and the father of Helen.  Among his many other attributes, he was sometimes prayed to for the safe return of a traveler; offerings of thanksgiving (such as the weapons and armor of a warrior) might be made following a safely completed journey.

Laodamia:  Daughter of Acastus and wife of Protesilaus.  When Protesilaus sailed with the Greek forces to attack Troy, she was very apprehensive for his safety.  There are two versions of her behavior when Protesilaus was killed early in the Trojan War.  In one of them, she mourned for him so deeply that the gods allowed her to see him again for three hours; when the three hours were up and Protesilaus was drawn back to the underworld, she committed suicide.  In the other version, she became so enamored of an image of Protesilaus that her father burned the image; Laodamia then committed suicide by throwing herself on the fire.

Leda:  Mother of Helen.  The god Jove became enamored of Leda, and came to her in the form of a swan.  He either seduced her or raped her.  She then gave birth to four children, two girls and two boys:  Helen and Clytemnaestra, and Pollux and Castor; Pollux and Castor were often called the "heavenly twins."  Helen and Pollux were the children of Jove, and Clytemnaestra and Castor were the children of Tyndareus (in some accounts, both Pollux and Castor were the sons of Jove, and become gods themselves).  

Menelaus:  King of Sparta and husband of HelenParis 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, see the notes on Helen and on Paris.

Neptune:  God of the sea.  Neptune and the god Apollo were said to have built the original walls of Troy.

Paris:  Son of King Priam of Troy.  He was apparently very attractive to women, and was supposed to be something of an expert on feminine beauty.  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.  However, Helen was already married to Menelaus, king of Sparta.  When Paris was sent on an embassy to Sparta, he was received as a guest in Menelaus' palace.  Menelaus then went away to Crete, and in his absence Paris eloped with (or abducted) Helen.  The kings of the other Greek cities banded together and led a military expedition to get her back.  The result was the Trojan War, a ten-year siege of the city of Troy that led to its fall.  

Phoebus:  The sun-god Apollo.

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

Phylace; Phylaceian:  Phylace was a town in the Greek region of Thessaly, in northern Greece.  It was the home of Laodamia and Protesilaus.

Priam:  King of Troy and father of Paris and Hector.

Protesilaus:  Greek hero from Phylace, in Thessaly; son of Iphiclus and husband of Laodamia. He was the leader of a large contingent of Thessalian forces among the Greek armies in the Trojan War.  Homer mentions that he was killed by Trojan defenders when the Greeks landed, and says that he left a wife who mourned for him and a house that was still unfinished (indicating, presumably, that he was newly married).  Later writers speak of a prophecy that the first Greek to land at Troy would be killed.  In at least one of these later versions, the other Greeks hung back out of fear of the prophecy, but Protesilaus bravely leaped ashore, where he was killed by the Trojan hero Hector.  For Laodamia's reaction to his death, see the note on Laodamia.

purple dye:  Expensive purple dye, made from the murex (a shellfish), was generally reserved for the clothing of royalty.

Simois:  One of the major rivers near Troy.

Taenarian wife:  Taenaris was a cape or promontory at the southern end of the Peloponnesus in Greece.  It was in Laconia, the region of Sparta, where Menelaus and Helen lived.  Hence, "the Taenarian wife" refers to Helen.  

Tenedos:  An island off the coast of Troy.  The Greek fleet retreated to Tenedos and hid there after leaving the Trojan horse in front of the city.

Thessalian:  Associated with Thessaly, the region of northern Greece in which Phylace is found, home of Laodamia and Protesilaus.

Troy, Trojan:  Troy was a city in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).  Its king was Priam, father of Paris and Hector, and it was one of the wealthiest cities of the time.  After Paris brought Helen to Troy, Greek armies attacked the city in order to get her back.  Protesilaus was killed very early in this campaign.  The Greeks besieged Troy for ten years.  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. 

twins:  Pollux and Castor, the sons of Leda and Jove and the brothers of Helen, were often called the "heavenly twins."  For more details, see the note on Leda.

two-horned one:  The god Bacchus, who was sometimes represented as having horns like a faun or satyr.  He carried a thyrsus, a rod decorated with vine-leaves or ivy, and could induce a kind of divine madness or frenzy with it.

Xanthus:  One of the major rivers near Troy.

 

 

 

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Last updated 06/23/2013