In Greek mythology, Paris was a handsome young prince who eloped with the most beautiful woman in the world and caused the Trojan War. The son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, Paris seemed destined for disaster from birth. Shortly before he was born, his mother dreamed that she gave birth to a flaming torch that destroyed Troy. Priam consulted a seer, who warned the king that the dream foretold disaster for the city. Some myths say that Helen’s mother was Leda, the wife of King Tyndareus of Sparta. Others name Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, as her mother. Helen had a sister Clytemnestra, who later became the wife of King Agamemnon of Mycenae, and twin brothers Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri. Stories claiming Leda as Helen’s mother tell how Zeus disguised himself as a swan and raped the Spartan queen. Leda then produced two eggs. From one came Helen and her brother Pollux. Clytemnestra and Castor emerged from the other. Other versions of the myth say that Zeus seduced Nemesis, and she laid the two eggs. A shepherd discovered them and gave them to Queen Leda, who tended the eggs until they hatched and raised the children as her own. In some variations of this legend, Helen and Pollux were the children of Zeus, but Clytemnestra and Castor were actually the children of Tyndareus.Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships, was a tantalizing enigma from the very first. She was flesh and blood certainly, but she was also immortal, since her father was none other than Zeus. Her mother was the beautiful Leda, queen of Sparta, who was ravished by the father of the gods in the form of a swan. Leda’s husband was Tyndarecus, who later the same night, unaware of his feathered predecessor, also impregnated his wife. She produced two eggs, one of which yielded Helen and Polydeuces and the other of which contained Castor and Clytemnestra. While a swan’s egg can be accepted for the sake of myth, it has never made much sense that the part of her pregnancy initiated by Tyndareus should produce an egg as well. This most curious of births has been subjected to all manner of combinations over the years. As delicious as the story of Leda was, some commentators even went so far as to suggest that Helen and the Dioscuri were conceived at Rhamnus in Attica by Zeus and Nemesis, the usually rather stern and sexless goddess whose job it was to curb excesses. Nemesis, not happy with being raped by a swan, laid an egg and left it. Leda found it, and when the egg hatched it produced Helen and the Dioscuri. In that case, Clytemnestra was not even a sister of Helen. The most fascinating thing about Helen was her story. It was far better than she was. We do not see any real character development in her and have to regard her as a pawn of the gods. The larger story is involved with the people around her, their rise and fall. She herself seemed almost oblivious to the horrors that surrounded her. She displayed very little emotion and no remorse. She seemed removed and largely unaffected by the outcome of the war. In most accounts of her final years she was not even made to pay for her part in the calamity that touched virtually every family in Greece. It is small wonder some writers contrived alternative versions in which she was made to pay a debt to society.