Helen and her brothers
Helen and her brothers
While looking for the origin of the name Helen, I learned about the constellation of Helen and her Brothers. Who are they, my brothers?
I learned that I should look for them in Gemini (a constellation of the northern hemisphere, which the Sun enters in June 20; it can be clearly observed in December and January all over Russia; the two brightest stars are Castor and Pollux).
According to Thracian mythology, the origin of Gemini is linked with King Tyndareus.
Thracians inhabited the Balkans and the adjacent territories (modern Bulgaria and Turkey). They spoke the Thracian language – a branch of the Indo-European language family. They could be distinguished from the Greeks by their red hair and blue eyes.
Presumably Thracians soon mixed with Greeks, Romans and Slavs. They are first mentioned in the V century B.C.
The excavation in Bulgaria near Karlovo revealed the ancient Thracian capital.
Thracians passed a number of their mythological characters and gods to Greeks, Dionysus, princess Europa and Orpheus among them. In the second book of Iliad Thracians fight on the Trojan side. In this fifth book Herodotus writes that Thracians honor only three gods, Ares, Dionysus and Artemis. Titus Flavius Josephus thought that Greeks called “Thirasians” - Thracians.
Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, was exiled by Hippocoon and traveled much until he settled in Ethiopia. There he was welcomed by the local king Thestius who offered Tyndareus his daughter, Leda. After Hippocoon was assassinated, King Tyndareus returned to Sparta with Leda as his wife.
Leda is always depicted fair-skinned. But if Tyndareus met her in Ethiopia, she should have been a dark-skinned beauty, which would make starker contrast with the white swan. In some interpretations of the myth Leda is accompanied by a black swan (Leonardo da Vinci, Louis Icart).
Igor Zeinalov depicted Leda in bronze as an Ethiopian beauty wearing typical for African culture large ear rings.
Pontormo of the Florentine Renaissance paints the swan black and white. The artists must have been following the tradition of picturing Leda fair-skinned, or might not have known, or wanted to reveal, the full story behind the art.
The myth itself is very attractive and has been found in art since ancient times, and continues to excite the painters, sculptors and drawers.
Upon seeing Leda Zeus lost control, turned into a swan and took her. Leda gave birth to Polydeuces (Pollux) and Helen by Zeus, and to Castor and Clytemnestra by Tyndareus.
Polydeuces and Castor make the constellation of Gemini. Castor is known as an outstanding rider. Poseidon gave the twins horses to save victims of shipwrecks.
In Greek mythology Helen is the queen of Sparta, daughter of Zeus and Leda. As a young girl she is kidnapped by Theseus. Everybody knows what happened next – the Trojan War over the beautiful Helen.
From the Greeks Helen came to Russian folk tales as Helen the Beautiful. The Slavs nickname her Alyona.
There used to be a sanctuary for Helen near Sparta, and in Sparta there grew her sacred platanus.
If you search for the origin of the name Helen on the internet, you will find information about its Zodiac meaning. Having read this article, you will know, why.