Abstract: The ancient lyric and poetic tradition presents Helen as an eternal model of beauty and contemporaneously as the cause of the Trojan War and Greek suffering. At Euripides’ “Helen” the tragic poet utilises a tradition, which was probably invented either by the poet Stesichorus or Hesiodus. This tradition differentiates itself, as it combines the presence of an “idol”,1 Helen’s idol in Troy, with the parallel hiding of the real Helen in Egypt, where she was placed under the protection of King Proteus. So, Greeks and Trojans remain trapped in an idol, in a deceptive image, for years as it is eventually proved.
This variation of the epic story displays the essential difference between “appearing and being”. And this is exactly the characteristic which now imparts to the play a particular value at present. Namely, the current situation shows the modern Achaeans trapped not in the snare of pretty Helen’s idol, but the illusion of the idealized Greek country. This illusion is being constantly invigorated by the idea that both the few “lucky” people who live in Greece and the Greek land itself constitute the Greek earthly version of the celestial paradise.