Isocrates. Isocrates with an English Translation in three volumes, by Larue Van Hook, Ph.D., LL.D. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1945-1968.

All these personages Helen surpassed in proportion as she excelled them in the beauty of her person. For not only did she attain immortality but, having won power equalling that of a god, she first raised to divine station her brothers[*](Castor and Pollux; cf. § 19.), who were already in the grip of Fate, and wishing to make their transformation believed by men, she gave to them honors[*](A reference to “St. Elmo's fire”; cf. Pliny ii. 37.) so manifest that they have power to save when they are seen by sailors in peril on the sea, if they but piously invoke them.

After this she so amply recompensed Menelaus for the toils and perils which he had undergone because of her, that when all the race of the Pelopidae had perished and were the victims of irremediable disasters, not only did she free him from these misfortunes but, having made him god instead of mortal, she established him as partner of her house and sharer of her throne forever.

And I can produce the city of the Spartans, which preserves with especial care its ancient traditions, as witness for the fact; for even to the present day at Therapne[*](Just outside Sparta were the tombs of Menelaus and Helen (see Pausanias iii. 19.9) and their sanctuary (Herodotus vi. 61).) in Laconia the people offer holy and traditional sacrifices to them both, not as to heroes, but as to gods.

And she displayed her own power to the poet Stesichorus[*](The famous lyric poet of Himera, in Sicily.) also; for when, at the beginning of his ode, he spoke in disparagement of her, he arose deprived of his sight; but when he recognized the cause of his misfortune and composed the Recantation,[*](The well-known Palinode; for this legend and the fragment of the poem see Plat. Phaedrus 242a.) as it is called, she restored to him his normal sight.

And some of the Homeridae also relate that Helen appeared to Homer by night and commanded him to compose a poem on those who went on the expedition to Troy, since she wished to make their death more to be envied than the life of the rest of mankind; and they say that while it is partly because of Homer's art, yet it is chiefly through her that this poem has such charm and has become so famous among all men.

Since, then, Helen has power to punish as well as to reward, it is the duty of those who have great wealth to propitiate and to honor her with thank-offerings, sacrifices, and processions, and philosophers should endeavour to speak of her in a manner worthy of her merits; for such are the first-fruits it is fitting that men of cultivation should offer.

Far more has been passed over than has been said. Apart from the arts and philosophic studies and all the other benefits which one might attribute to her and to the Trojan War, we should be justified in considering that it is owing to Helen that we are not the slaves of the barbarians. For we shall find that it was because of her that the Greeks became united in harmonious accord and organized a common expedition against the barbarians, and that it was then for the first time that Europe set up a trophy of victory over Asia;

and in consequence, we experienced a change so great that, although in former times any barbarians who were in misfortune presumed to be rulers over the Greek cities (for example, Danaus, an exile from Egypt, occupied Argos, Cadmus of Sidon became king of Thebes, the Carians colonized the islands[*](Cf. Thuc. 1.4 and Isoc. 12.43.), and Pelops, son of Tantalus, became master of all the Peloponnese), yet after that war our race expanded so greatly that it took from the barbarians great cities and much territory.

If, therefore, any orators wish to dilate upon these matters and dwell upon them, they will not be at a loss for material apart from what I have said, wherewith to praise Helen; on the contrary, they will discover many new arguments that relate to her.