Essay for Bachelor of Fine Art and Visual Culture 2017
According to Greek mythology, Helen of Troy, the legendary ‘face that launched a thousand ships” was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. In Homer ‘s Iliad, which covers only a short period of the siege of Troy, Helen represented an understated but essential part of the story. Plato, who both admired and ridiculed Homer for his writing of the Iliad, wrote about his standards for beauty and character especially for the ‘ideal individual’ in a city-state, and it is by the employment of these principles that continuing admiration of the beauty of Helen of Troy will be analysed. Examples of visual art will support this investigation, but it is her portrayal in the Iliad that will underpin the argument for and against her beauty. A broad investigation of Helen’s complex character, and how she has been depicted for centuries, will result in a better understanding of her by exposing her inward and outward beauty, or lack thereof, according to the ideals expressed in Plato’s The Republic and Symposium.