Beauty, Whiskey, and Helen

Also known as "The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships".

Thalia: Well, I’m sitting at the Laundromat listening to a strange lady draining parsley sauces on the cooking channel.  My muse is distracted! The cheese is melted and hot!

Melpomene: I just came from a house where the three year old boy chose to spend his hour of television watching Martha Stewart.

Thalia: Good boy

Melpomene: He promised to decorate cookies with me later.

 Thalia: Learning social arts!

 Melpomene: It was adorable.

Thalia: That is a lovely thing. I think the men are the ones who really appreciate beauty Here’s this little 3 year old looking for order and beauty. And finding it, in all odd places, on the Martha Stewart show.

Melpomene: Interestingly, some of my friends were just having a discussion – er, argument – about whether or not Helen was worth the destruction of Troy.

Thalia: Was there a conclusion?

 Melpomene: The men all said “yes”. She is the Ideal of Beauty, and beauty is always worth sacrifice.

Thalia: I am fascinated!

Melpomene:  The women emitted a resounding, “no”. One person is not worth the destruction of a city.

Thalia: While I agree that it was a high price, I am inclined to side with the Gentlemen in this matter.

Melpomene: Really?

Thalia: Especially considering that enough time has passed that we should see Helen as a metaphor as well as a woman. Time, that purger, removes individuality, but leaves the shape of a type. And for Beauty and its preservation, many have fought wars.

 Melpomene: While I think Helen is often overlooked as a real character – she does have a surprisingly human realism in her portrayal – I do I think that she was not completely worth the fall of a nation. Was she meant to be so simple a symbol?

 Thalia: Doubtful, honestly, but that has become her role.

Melpomene: Is it what was intended as her role? Yeats calls the men – of mankind – who search for beauty and meaning and love, “Those Who Search for Helen”.

Thalia: If not, what? Given the judgment of Paris, she was set up as The Beauty.

Melpomene: But something in Homer’s portrayal of her emphasizes her very humanity. She was, after all, but a woman. A mortal.

Thalia: Then why didn’t she step forward to stop the war? Did she have a different view than Normal Woman?

Melpomene: Well, she blames the gods. And, frankly, Venus did make her run away with Paris.

Thalia: Oh how very fatalistic of her.

Melpomene: And she regretted it deeply.

 Thalia: Did she?  I don’t recall….

 Melpomene: So the question is then one of, “how much free will did she have in this instance?”

Thalia: From her perspective or from ours?

 Melpomene: Oh yes! The bedroom scene, where she is weaving while Paris plays with his arrows is filled with her fury.

Thalia: Ha, but she got the dumb Trojan, didn’t she. . . . . . . I bet he was a perfume model. Frankly, I think she had as much free will as you and I, but I don’t know much about what the Greek view of free will was. . . . . . . Were the Fata so irresistible that even sin was inevitable?

. . . . also known as "The Patsy Prince Pansy-Pants".

Melpomene: Well, he was played – in a piece of brilliant casting – by Orlando Bloom!

Thalia: Yup! Prettier than his Helen…

I have no doubt that the Men of Troy and the Peloponnese would say “It’s a matter of principle.”

 Melpomene: Given that so many Greek characters – even gods – fell in love against their will, it might be safe to say that her will was not fully engaged . . . Also given the said paradigms of this myth-world.

 Thalia: Did she ever reengage?

Melpomene: That has always been my question. When Priam has her point out the warriors of Greece, or Odysseus sneaks into the city, did it ever occur to her that she could GO BACK?

Thalia: As a modern American woman, I have no idea. I have a very strong sense that if you think its right, you stay, and if you think it’s wrong, you go.

Melpomene: What would Homer have said for our modern life?

Thalia: Well, if it wasn’t worth the siege, she could have …up and left… A la O Brother Where Art Thou.


Sirens. Occasionally referred to to in popular literature. And scary movies.

 Melpomene: Pfft! Runnoft. Oh, for the Cyclops and sire-EEns!

Thalia: So either, Helen was content to have them fighting over her, or she thought it was out of her hands.

HAHAH, yeah….funny movie. So….Basically, Helen was out of cards to play, since either she has no free will, or else she sides with the men and thinks Beauty, (hers,) is enough to be fighting over. Add it to the list of Shoes I Don’t Want to Walk A Mile In. Though if offered a MilliHelen, I would say…ok…

 Melpomene: MilliHelen? Dare I ask?

Thalia: Enough beauty to launch 1 ship….at the cost of a minor feud. Not my joke, but terribly funny.

 Melpomene: So, how many-a-ship-wife are you?

Thalia: HA! I am giggling madly and accounting for my accomplishments

 Melpomene: I think I am worth 6 and half ships. If only on account of my blitz poetry skills.

Thalia: Nine. I am worth 9 ships. I think you are worth twelve. On account of your Aristotelian glory.

Melpomene: Ah-HA!! Should we count for cooking skills? And how big are these ships?

 Thalia: These are triremes. Sadly… not super cool battleship.

 Melpomene: Can we upgrade? I want a Carrier.

Thalia: But I sank your battleship, so nothing doing.

Melpomene: And I want a cute little tugboat.

 Thalia: AWWWW! I do think your cooking, being slightly less….incendiary…..than mine, warrants an extra ship.

 Melpomene: True. My hams do not explode.

 Thalia: You can have a tugboat for that.

Melpomene: But exciting culinary adventures might be worth more to some men!

Thalia: My hams do have comic and social value.

Melpomene: Again, men appreciate such a quality.

 Thalia: The men on airplane carriers, preferably?

Melpomene: Exactly! Men with a taste for the heavenly and sublime!

 Thalia: Lovely! Ha! I see your punniness . . .

 Melpomene: I wish I could figure out HOW to make my hams explode.

 Thalia: Put a sealing lid on a vat of bourbon soaked ham.

Melpomene: I did once have my cake turn into flame.

Thalia: BRAVO!

Melpomene: I think that it was the whisky that I put in it . . . .

 Thalia: Maybe. Hard to say. But maybe.

True Beauty. THIS never lets me down.

Melpomene: I tend to believe that everything is better with whiskey. Even BEAUTY!

 Thalia: As when you and I met. Which was beautiful. And full of tea and whiskey!

Melpomene:You and me, and tea and whiskey. It is a perfect friendship.

 Thalia: Beauty, sans whiskey, foulness only is. A sign of weakness! To paraphrase John Donne

 Melpomene:  If Helen had had some whiskey, she might have summoned the courage to walk out of Troy.

 Thalia: We could have given Helen some real courage! It is that!

Melpomene: So the issue might be, that Helen was not enough of  an ?

 Thalia: I think that is what it boils down to.

Melpomene: And for the purposes of this conversation, we should explain what we are making “Aristotelian Woman” mean.

Thalia: Ah. The Uninitiated might be confused.

Melpomene: Or think we mean all that stuff about woman being an incomplete man.

Thalia: Heavens! No!

Melpomene: What we mean, or what we refer to with that phrase, is . . . .

Thalia: TALL WOMEN! Beautiful women!

Melpomene: Sometime, somewhere, Aristotle points out that only tall can be properly proportioned.

Proportionally perfect. Minus arms.

Thalia: Ergo, only tall women be beautiful!

Melpomene: We take this as a personal compliment. And disclude Helen from our ranks.

Thalia: She was a scaredy cat without whiskey!  Poor Helen! Alas Hector!

Melpomene: Let us not discuss Hector right now. He hurts my heart.

 Thalia: He pains me as well. We shall leave our Son Hector, my Muse!

 Melpomene: Oh, wondrous Hector!

Thalia:  *sigh* Returning to Helen.

Melpomene: Perhaps that other use of “Aristotelian Woman” does give us some insight into her role.

Thalia: She . . . . in the fact that she is considered an idea rather than a thing, became less than she should be. A human.

 Melpomene: Also, clearly she was not tall enough.

 Thalia: Not at all.

Melpomene: She fell short of the True Ideal.

 Thalia: She was an inch. And a Thing!

 Melpomene: An inch! She needed some of the “Drink Me”!

 Thalia: Oh muse of my heart, I must fold laundry.

Alice drank. And grew TALL!

Melpomene: Go forth, beloved, and revel in the smell of clean clothes.

Thalia:The 21st century …what can be said in its defense?

Melpomene: In its defense, we are not required to BE Helens. We can simply be . . . women.

 Thalia: Thankfully.

Melpomene: No city will fall on our account. No souls will be lost.

Thalia: Even if the gods demand it?

Melpomene: Again, thankfully, our God is not so arbitrary.

 Thalia: YES! But, may I request a match of fisticuffs? in exchange for my MilliHelen?

Melpomene: With whom? Helen? or me?

 Thalia: Oh! No! among the Men, the lovers of Beauty!

Melpomene: Ah. I see. Alright then. There ought to be some sort of test, or fight for them to win our womanly affections.

Thalia: Consider the challenge issued. Men, the rest is up to you!

If you insist that Beauty is worth the fight . . . .


One thought on “Beauty, Whiskey, and Helen

  1. Leave it to the Muses to miss the entire point of feminine beauty. Perhaps Thalia was closest to the truth by saying “I think the men are the ones who really appreciate beauty”. The female was made beautiful for the benifit of man. The man was made strong to impress the female. The female can never be content due to her belief that other females posess more of the “thing of beauty” than they. If you are following this line of logic correctly, you will clearly see that men appreciate beauty while women are simply jealous of the beauty that they believe they do not posess. I thought that I had made you smarter than that…

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