Who Is Menelaus?

Menelaus, the King of Sparta, had the most beautiful wife in the world, Helen. Paris, the Prince of Troy, stole her and held her captive as a lover in Troy. These events caused the ten-year-long Trojan war that took thousands of lives and entailed the destruction of Troy.

Menelaus led the Spartan troops against Troy. He was subordinated to Agamemnon, his elder brother, the King of Mycenae, and the commander-in-chief of the entire Greek army.  

The Iliad provided us with the most comprehensive information about Menelaus’ actions in the Trojan War. In the ninth year of the military conflict, Menelaus challenged Paris to a single fight to end the war. They agreed that the winner would take Helen. Menelaus almost killed Paris, but Aphrodite intervened, taking Paris to Troy. But in Book 4, Athena urged Pandarus to shoot an arrow at Menelaus that wounded him in the abdomen. He survived (Athena did not intend to kill him), but the truce was broken. 

Book 17 contains an extended aristeia (a scene describing the glorious moment a hero in his best battle). Menelaus protects Patroclus’ body to bring it to the Achaean camp safely.  

According to Hygnius, Menelaus was one of the Greek warriors that entered the city in the Trojan Horse. Although he was an experienced warrior and commander, his glory paled compared with those of Achilles and Agamemnon. Homer rarely mentioned Menelaus in battle scenes. Still, the King of Sparta gets the epithet “war-loving,” which probably refers to his guilt in the outbreak of war. 

Thank you for reading this article! If you are looking for essay title ideas on The Iliad, take a look at our essay topic collection or try using our title-generating tool. 

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