Helen of Troy and the Swan Knight

Helen of Troy’s mother was Leda, who was raped by Zeus who took the form of a swan. Leonardo Da Vinci worships Helen, Our Sweet Lady, and uses Mona Lisa as his model.

The Greeks held a poetry contest at Troy. Who won? I suspect King David with the riddle he confounded King Saul with – who was also at Troy?

King Henry, who was married to Eleanor of Aquataine, believed he descended from the Kings of Troy. Eleanor’s father. This was an arranged marriage – of the blood of a god! William of Aquataine, was a Troubador – supreme! He was a master at seducing women.


Jon Presco

Copyright 2011

In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy (in Greek, Ἑλένη – Helénē), also known as Helen of Sparta, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda (or Nemesis), step-daughter of King Tyndareus, wife of Menelaus and sister of Castor, Polydeuces and Clytemnestra. Her abduction by Paris brought about the Trojan War.
Leda and the Swan is a motif from Greek mythology in which Zeus came to Leda in the form of a swan. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus, while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta. In the W.B. Yeats version, it is subtly suggested that Clytemnestra, although being the daughter of Tyndareus, has somehow been traumatised by what the swan has done to her mother (see below). As the story goes, Zeus took the form of a swan and raped or seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband King Tyndareus. In some versions, she laid two eggs from which the children hatched.[1] In other versions, Helen is a daughter of Nemesis, the goddess who personified the disaster that awaited those suffering from the pride of Hubris.

The Knight of the Swan story first appears in French chansons de geste of the Crusade cycle, where they figure into tales of the ancestry of Godfrey of Bouillon.[2] As the first ruler of the newly-established Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Godfrey loomed large in the medieval Christian imagination, and his shadowy genealogy became a popular subject for writers of the period. Knight of the Swan stories attached to Godfrey fall into two major versions, identified by Gaston Paris as “I” and “II”. Each version has its own variants.[3]

[edit] Swan Children
Helias, Brabant (16th-century)Version I describes the “Swan-Children”, and appears to have been originally separate from the Godfrey cycle and the Swan Knight story generally.[3] Paris identifies four groups of variants, which he classifies usually by the name of the mother of the swan children.[4] In the “Dolopathos” group, named after the oldest variant, a lord finds a mysterious woman – clearly a swan maiden or fairy – in an enchanted forest and marries her.[4] She bears seven children, six boys and a girl, with golden chains about their necks, but her evil mother-in-law has them quickly removed and abandoned and replaces them with dogs.[5] The father blames the mother for their disappearance and punishes her; in turn, the boys lose their gold chains and turn into swans. Through the efforts of the sister, after seven years the truth is revealed, the mother is redeemed, and the boys are restored to their human form, with the exception of one whose chain has been melted down. The poet asserts that he becomes the swan in the Swan Knight tale.[6] The “Eloixe” group tells essentially a courtlier version of the same story; here, the mother is less mysterious in origin and dies in childbirth, so she does not suffer before her children are restored.[7] In the “Isomberte” variants, the woman is a princess fleeing a hated marriage.[8] In the “Beatrix” variants, the woman had taunted another woman over her alleged adultery, citing a multiple birth as proof of it, and was then punished with a multiple birth of her own.[8]

This involves fairy tale motifs of a woman, and her children, persecuted by her mother-in-law, though in the “Beatrix” versions she is also an avenging justice.[9] This makes the tale resemble not only such chivalric romances as The Man of Law’s Tale and Emaré, but such fairy tales as The Girl Without Hands.[10] It also bears resemblance to the fairy tale The Six Swans, where brothers transformed into birds are rescued by the efforts of their sister.[11]

[edit] Swan KnightVersion II involves the Swan Knight himself. These stories are sometimes attached to the story of the Swan Children, but sometimes appear independently, in which case no explanation of the swan is given. All of these describe a knight who appears with a swan and rescues a lady; he then disappears after a taboo is broken, but not before becoming the ancestor of an illustrious family.[12] Sometimes this is merely a brief account to introduce a descendant.[13] The second version of this tale is thought to have been written by the Norman trouvère Jean Renart.

In Brabant the name of the Knight of the Swan is Helias. It has been suggested[by whom?] that this connects him to the Greek solar god, Helios,[14] but the name is in fact a common variant of the name of the prophet Elijah.

[edit] Lohengrin
Lohengrin postcard around 1900 – unknown artistMain article: Lohengrin
In the early 13th century the German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach adapted the Swan Knight motif for his epic Parzival. Here the story is attached to Loherangrin, the son of the protagonist Parzival and the Grail maiden Condwiramurs. As in other versions Loherangrin is a knight who arrives in a swan-pulled boat to defend a lady, in this case Elsa of Brabant. They marry, but he must leave when she breaks the taboo of asking his name.

In the late 13th century the poet Nouhusius or Nouhuwius adapted and expanded Wolfram’s brief story into the romance Lohengrin. The poet changed the title character’s name slightly and added various new elements to the story, tying the Grail and Swan Knight themes into the history of the Holy Roman Empire.[15] In the 15th century an anonymous poet again took up the story for the romance Lorengel.[16] This version omits the taboo against asking about the hero’s name and origins, allowing the knight and princess a happy ending.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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