Helen - Hellen - Hellene

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Do not confuse Helen with Hellen (the origin of Hellene).

  • Helen is a woman's name known since ancient Greek times. In Homer's Iliad, the abduction of Helen (Ἑλένη HelEnē) by Paris from her husband Menelaus, King of Sparta is the cause of the Trojan War. In the legend, she was known as the most beautiful woman in the world, her parents being the chief god Zeus, in the form of a swan, and Leda - she was hatched from an egg in the same birth as the twins, Castor and Pollux. Marlowe took her as the epitome of beauty in Dr Faustus, where Satan conjures her up, and the eponymous hero asks, with reference to the Trojan War
Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships?
    • Helen is still in use as a female forename. It became popular in England after another Helen - the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity in 312 CE. She herself was a pious Christian, who is credited with the discovery of the True Cross - that is, the very wood on which Jesus was crucified. She is most often known by the Latin form of her name, Saint Helena.
  • Hellen (Ἕλλην) is the ancestor of the Greeks, as Abraham was of the Jews. He was, according to the myths, the son of Deucalion. His descendants through his son Aeolus formed the Aeolians; through Dorus the Dorians; and through Xuthus the Achaeans (descended from Xuthus's son Achaeus) and the Ionians (descended from Xuthus's probably illegitimate son Ionas). These are the most important ethnic divisions of the ancient Greeks.
    • Hellene, the most common Greek word to label their people, is derived from his name, as is the word still used in Greece to name the current republic: Hellas (Ἑλλάς, the subjective case in classical, Ελλάδα (EllAda) in modern - and in other grammatical cases cases, classical - Greek).