Helen of Troy is one of Homer’s most fascinating female voices. She is an elusive character who defies any attempts to pin her down. This is demonstrated well in the below scene from the Odyssey. On the surface Helen is a kind host and loyal wife, yet underlying this persona is a sinister portrayal of an inscrutable woman.
The scene takes place in Book 4. Helen is returned to her husband King Menelaus and playing the role of an obedient housewife. Odysseus’ son Telemachus has come to the court of Menelaus to seek information about his father’s whereabouts, who since the Trojan War has vanished from Greece. The group drink together and reminisce about the heroes at Troy, weeping for those who are lost. Helen then does something very curious. She mixes a drug into the men’s wine. It is a drug that removes all sorrow, to the extent that a man’s parents could lie dead in front of him and he would not mourn.