digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

For other uses, see Menelaus (disambiguation).
Menelaus
King of Sparta
Menelaus
Marble bust of Menelaus photographed by Giacomo Brogi
Wife Helen of Troy

Issue

Hermione
Nicostratus
Megapenthes
Aithiolas
Maraphius
Pleisthenes
Father Atreus
Mother Aerope

In Greek mythology, Menelaus (/ˌmɛnɪˈləs/; Greek: Μενέλαος, Menelaos) was a king of Mycenaean (pre-Dorian) Sparta, the husband of Helen of Troy, and a central figure in the Trojan War. He was the son of Atreus and Aerope, brother of Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and, according to the Iliad, leader of the Spartan contingent 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.

Etymology And Indo-European roots[edit]

"Menelaus" is thought to be derived of the Proto-Indo-European root *mḗh₁n̥s, "Moon", from which the english Moon, the scandinavian Máni, the baltic Meness and several other words for the Moon come from.[1] Combined with possible solar connections in regards to Helen of Troy, it is possible that historical reccordings of the king may be influence by residual proto-indo-european lunar deity myths.

Ascension and reign[edit]

Although early authors such as Aeschylus refer in passing to Menelaus’ early life, detailed sources are quite late, post-dating 5th-century BC Greek tragedy.[2] According to these sources, Menelaus' father, Atreus, had been feuding with his brother Thyestes over the throne of Mycenae. After a back-and-forth struggle that featured adultery, incest and cannibalism, Thyestes gained the throne after his son Aegisthus murdered Atreus. As a result, Atreus’ sons, Menelaus and Agamemnon, went into exile. They first stayed with King Polyphides of Sicyon, and later with King Oeneus of Calydon. But when they thought the time was ripe to dethrone Mycenae’s hostile ruler, they returned. Assisted by King Tyndareus of Sparta, they drove Thyestes away, and Agamemnon took the throne for himself.

When it was time for Tyndareus’ step-daughter Helen to marry, many kings and princes came to seek her hand. Among the contenders were Odysseus, Menestheus, Ajax the Great, Patroclus, and Idomeneus. Most offered opulent gifts. Tyndareus would accept none of the gifts, nor would he send any of the suitors away for fear of offending them and giving grounds for a quarrel. Odysseus promised to solve the problem in a satisfactory manner if Tyndareus would support him in his courting of Tyndareus’s niece Penelope, the daughter of Icarius. Tyndareus readily agreed, and Odysseus proposed that, before the decision was made, all the suitors should swear a most solemn oath to defend the chosen husband in any quarrel. Then it was decreed that straws were to be drawn for Helen’s hand. The suitor who won was Menelaus (Tyndareus, not to displease the powerful Agamemnon offered him another of his daughters, Clytaemnestra).[3] The rest of the suitors swore their oaths, and Helen and Menelaus were married, Menelaus becoming a ruler of Sparta with Helen after Tyndareus and Leda abdicated the thrones. Menelaus and Helen had a daughter Hermione as supported, for example, by Sappho,[4] whilst some variations of the myth suggest they had three sons as well: Aithiolas, Maraphius, and Pleisthenes.

Their palace (ἀνάκτορον) has been discovered (the excavations started in 1926 and continued until 1995) in Pellana, Laconia, to the north-west of modern (and classical) Sparta.[5] Other archaeologists consider that Pellana is too far away from other Mycenaean centres to have been the "capital of Menelaus".[6]

Trojan War[edit]

Main article: Trojan War
Menelaus regains Helen, detail of an Attic red-figure crater, c. 450–440 BC, found in Gnathia (now Egnazia, Italy).

In a return for awarding her a golden apple inscribed "to the fairest," Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in all the world.[7] After concluding a diplomatic mission to Sparta during the latter part of which Menelaus was absent to attend the funeral of his maternal grandfather Catreus in Crete, Paris ran off to Troy with Helen in tow despite his brother Hector forbidding her to depart with them. Invoking the oath of Tyndareus, Menelaus and Agamemnon raised a fleet of one thousand ships according to legend 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’s 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.

There are four versions of Menelaus’ and Helen’s reunion on the night of the sack of Troy:

  • Angry at Helen, Menelaus looked for and found her. In a fit of rage, he decided to kill her for leaving him for Paris, but when he raised his sword, she started to weep at her former husband's feet, begging for her life. In a split second, Menelaus' wrath went away instantly. He took pity on her, and decided to take her back as wife.
  • Menelaus resolved to kill Helen but her striking beauty prompted him to drop his sword and take her back to his ship “to punish her at Sparta”, as he claimed.[8]
  • According to the Bibliotheca, Menelaus raised his sword in front of the temple in the central square of Troy to kill her but his wrath went away when he saw her tearing her clothes in sorrow (to reveal her breasts).
  • A similar version by Stesichorus in “Ilion’s Conquest” narrated that Menelaus surrendered her indeed to his soldiers to stone her to death; however, when she ripped the front of her robes, the Achaean warriors were stunned by her beauty and the stones fell harmlessly from their hands.

After the war[edit]

Book 4 of the Odyssey provides an account of Menelaus’ return from Troy and his homelife in Sparta. When visited by Odysseus’ son Telemachus, Menelaus recounts his voyage home. As happened to many Greeks, Menelaus' homebound fleet was blown by storms to Crete and Egypt where they were unable to sail away because the wind was calm. They trapped Proteus, who then told them how to make the voyage home. After their homecoming, Menelaus and Helen’s marriage is strained; Menelaus continually revisits the human cost of the Trojan War, particularly in light of the fact that he and Helen have no male heir. Menelaus is fond of Megapenthes and Nicostratus, his sons by other women. According to Euripides’ Helen, after Menelaus dies, he is reunited with Helen on the Isle of the Blessed.[9]

Menelaus in vase painting[edit]

Menelaus appears in Greek vase painting in the 6th to 4th centuries BC, such as: Menelaus’s reception of Paris at Sparta; his retrieval of Patroclus’s corpse; and his reunion with Helen.[10]

Menelaus in Greek tragedy[edit]

Menelaus appears as a character in a number of 5th-century Greek tragedies: SophoclesAjax, and EuripidesAndromache, Helen, Orestes, Iphigenia at Aulis, and The Trojan Women.

Menelaus in other media[edit]

  • Menelaus is portrayed by Niall MacGinnis in the 1956 film Helen of Troy.
  • Patrick Magee portrayed Menelaus in the 1971 film of The Trojan Women.
  • In the Coen Brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is loosely based on Odyssey, Academy Award nominated actor Charles Durning plays Governor Menelaus.
  • In James Callis's revisionist 2003 miniseries Helen of Troy, Menelaus is encouraged to fight the Trojan War by his brother Agamemnon instead of by Helen’s infidelity or the resulting slight to his honour.
  • Menelaus also appears in the 2004 film Troy, portrayed by Brendan Gleeson. Like the 1956 film that influenced it, Menelaus is portrayed as a brutish king out for revenge. He duels Paris and wins, but Paris retreats to his brother Hector. When Menelaus wants to strike the finishing blow, Hector kills him to protect his brother.
  • Menelaus is a character in John Barth’s short story, "Menelaiad" which is part of Lost in the Funhouse.
  • Menelaus is a song by the band We the Living.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dexter, 1984, 139-40
  2. ^ The chief sources for Menelaus' life before the Trojan War are Hyginus' Fabulae and the Epitome of the Bibliotheca.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Sappho, fr. 16. See an analysis of the poem by Gumpert, Grafting Helen, 92
  5. ^ Palace of Helen
  6. ^ Mee & Spawforth (2001), page 229
  7. ^ See the Judgment of Paris.
  8. ^ Andromache, 629-31.
  9. ^ Line 1675.
  10. ^ Woodford 1993.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Menelaus at Wikimedia Commons
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tyndareus
(second reign)
King of Sparta Succeeded by
Orestes

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menelaus — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
5532 videos foundNext > 

Troy - Paris vs Menelaus

The battle when Paris gets his butt kicked but then his bro saves him!!

Description of Proof of Menelaus's Theorem

Troy Movie - Extended Edition - Hector Talks With Menelaus

This part is from the Director's Cut version of Troy which is about 30 minutes longer than the original. Prince Hector talks with Menelaus in Sparta.

Geometria ( Teorema de Ceva e Teorema de Menelaus ) Nível 3

Matéria - Geometria Conteúdo - Teorema de Ceva e Teorema de Menelaus Nível - 3 Aula - 7 e 8 Professor - Luciano Guimarães Monteiro de Castro Currículo - http...

(PROFMAT-MA13) TEOREMA DE MENELAUS COMO MEMORIZAR E UTILIZAR

Como memorizar e utilizar o teorema de Menelaus. Vídeo mostra um exercício resolvido explicando como memorizar esse teorema. Inscreva-se: http://www.youtube....

Menelaus & Agamemnon *Declare War* "Troy"

UnivHypGeom31: Menelaus, Ceva and the Laws of proportion

The classical theorems of Menelaus and Ceva concern a triangle together with an additional line or point, and give relations between three ratios of distance...

Paris vs Menelaus for the love of Helen

http://sites.google.com/site/trojanwarcine http://sites.google.com/site/troikospolemos.

Troy (2/5) Movie CLIP - Hector Saves Paris (2004) HD

Troy Movie Clip - watch all clips http://j.mp/x3LtJr Buy Movie: http://j.mp/vShPJn click to subscribe http://j.mp/sNDUs5 Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) refuses t...

Geometria ( Ceva Menelaus ) - Nível 2

Matéria - Geometria Conteúdo - Ceva Menelaus Nível - 2 Aula - 14 Professor - Bruno Holanda Currículo - http://poti.obmep.org.br/index.php/curriculo/view/id/4...

5532 videos foundNext > 

876 news items

Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem Post
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:03:45 -0800

It must have been the last high priest, Menelaus, who ruled under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, before that Seleucid ruler persecuted the Jews. Menelaus had obtained the post by bribing Antiochus, after the previous high priest, Jason, had also obtained it ...

Haaretz

Haaretz
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 04:06:01 -0800

Three years later, another rich priest, Menelaus, offered even more money and was appointed high priest by Antiochus. Jason went into exile. Menelaus however was not from the line of high priests and his appointment upset the conservative Judeans ...

UW Badger Herald

UW Badger Herald
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 21:03:45 -0800

This point was further emphasized by Helen's imitation of Menelaus having sex with her because his face was emotionless and body was stiff. She called it “missionary position.” The audience burst out laughing because of the awkward movement and ...
 
Madison.com
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:29:05 -0800

In the dimly lit Hemsley Theatre, a modernized Greek play of epic proportions emerged Friday, Nov. 21. “Helen” is the classic story of the wife of King Menelaus. She is known for starting the Trojan War when she ran off with Paris, prince of Troy. To ...
 
The Jewish Voice
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 16:22:30 -0800

One of the brothers, Menelaus, went to the Emperor, and told him that the Mityavmin were "desirous to leave the laws of their country, and the Jewish way of living according to them, to follow the king's laws, and the Grecian way of living." (Josephus ...

Times Herald-Record

Times Herald-Record
Sun, 07 Dec 2014 23:07:30 -0800

When Helen and Menelaus married, Tyndareus extracted a promise from all those former suitors, demanding that they protect and defend his daughter's marriage to King Menelaus forever. Each of the suitors vowed they would always defend this marriage.

Haaretz

Haaretz
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 01:22:30 -0800

Menelaus took the opportunity to undermine his brother, bribing Antiochus to install him as the new High Priest. Jason fled to Ammon, but returned four years later, in 168 BCE, to make a failed bid for reinstatement. One version of the end to his story ...

Patheos

Chicagoist
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:56:15 -0800

These are tough times for the Greeks. The beautiful Helen, their most prized national symbol, has abandoned her country and her husband, Menelaus, (or been kidnapped, depending on which playwright you read) for a new life with the Trojan playboy Paris.
Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight