Helen of Troy
Bettany Hughesâ€™ Epic Journey to Learn the Truth About â€œThe Face That Launched a Thousand Shipsâ€
Classical historian Bettany Hughes (THE SPARTANS) travels across the eastern Mediterranean on an epic journey to find out the truth about Helen of Troy, once called the most beautiful woman on earth. Known as â€œthe face that launched a thousand ships,â€ she has been blamed for causing the Trojan War, a conflict that caused countless deaths.
Hughes holds bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degrees, with honors, in ancient and modern history from Oxford University. Her first book, Helen of Troy, Goddess, Princess, Whore, is published by Knopf
During her own voyage in Helenâ€™s wake, Hughes separates the reality from the romantic myths that have been told about Helen. She travels from the city where Helen is said to have been born, Sparta, in the mountains of Greece, to the archaeological site in modern Turkey that will be forever linked with the war fought in her name: Troy.
On the way, Hughes discovers some fascinating facts. In a small tourist hotel in Mycenae, the â€œBelle Helene,â€ the powerful and famous from more recent times have left their mark. Author Virginia Wolfe and other members of the famous literary circle, the Bloomsbury Group, stayed there, as did leaders of the Nazi party, among them Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, perhaps in search of the origins of the Aryan race. Hughes notes their faded signatures, now framed on the hotelâ€™s walls.
Hughes also follows the path of Henry Schliemann, the man who put Mycenae on the map in 1876 and who, when he unearthed a cache of ancient jewels, adorned his young Greek wife with them.
Says Hughes, â€œHelenâ€™s story is important and irresistible because it deals with that strange and worrying combination of pleasure and pain, sex and violence, love and hate.