Composers and their stage works 


(Helene; Helena, 412 B.C.).


Tragedy closer to high comedy in style and approach.


At the beginning of the play, Helen explains how Paris, a Trojan, was asked to judge the beauty of the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena. He chose Aphrodite as the fairest, on condition that he marry the beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, but the jealous Hera deceived him by giving him a phantom woman in her place. War between the Greeks and Trojans followed for possession of this phantom Helen, while the real Helen was spirited away to Egypt and sheltered by the Egyptian king Proteus.

As the play opens, Proteus has died and his son Theoclymenus seeks avidly to marry Helen. She is informed by the exiled Greek hero Teucer that the Trojan War ended seven years ago and that Menelaus has been wandering lost with his supposed wife since then. The news leaves Helen in despair, and she contemplates suicide. Menelaus, however, has just been shipwrecked nearby. He encounters the true Helen and learns from his men that the other was a phantom, who disappeared before them. He and Helen are now reunited, but Theoclymenus's sister Theonoe, a prophetess, almost reveals Menelaus's identity to Theoclymenus. After persuading Theonoe to keep their secret, Helen convinces the suspicious King that her husband has been reported drowned and that she will now marry him if he will allow her to perform burial rites at sea. At the insistence of Theonoe, Theoclymenus provides a ship that Menelaus and Helen promptly use to make their escape and learns too late that he has been tricked. His avowed revenge on Theonoe is prevented by Castor and Polydeuces ex machina, who inform him that the gods had ordained the safe reunion of Helen and Menelaus.