Online Encyclopedia

HELENUS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 220 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HELENUS, in Greek legend, son of Priam and Hecuba, and twin-brother of Cassandra. He is said to have been originally called Scamandrius, and to have received the name of Helenus from a Thracian soothsayer who instructed him in the prophetic art. In the Iliad he is described as the prince of augurs and a brave warrior; in the Odyssey he is not mentioned at all. Various details concerning him are added by later writers. It is related that he and his sister fell asleep in the temple of Apollo Thymbraeus and that snakes came and cleansed their ears, whereby they obtained the gift of prophecy and were able to understand the language of birds. After the death of Paris, Helenus and his brother Deiphobus became rivals for the hand of Helen. Deiphobus was preferred, and Helenus withdrew in indignation to Mount Ida, where he was captured by the Greeks, whom he advised to build the wooden horse and carry off the Palladium. According to other accounts, having been made prisoner by a stratagem of Odysseus, he declared that Philoctetes must be fetched from Lemnos before Troy could be taken; or he surrendered to Diomedes and Odysseus in the temple of Apollo, whither he had fled in disgust at the sacrilegious murder of Achilles by Paris in the sanctuary. After the capture of Troy, he and his sister-in-law Andromache accompanied Neoptolemus (Pyrrhus) as captives to Epirus, where Helenus persuaded him to settle. After the death of Neoptolemus, Helenus married Andromache and became ruler of the country. He was the reputed founder of Buthrotum and Chaonia, named after a brother or companion whom he had accidentally slain while hunting. He was said to have been buried at Argos, where his tomb was shown. When Aeneas, in the course of his wanderings, reached Epirus, he was hospitably received by Helenus, who predicted his future destiny. Homer, Iliad, vi. 76, vii. 44, Xii. 94, xiii. 576; Sophocles, Philoctetes, 604, who probably follows the Little Iliad of Lesches; Pausanias i. 11, H. 23; Conon, Narrationes, 34; Dictys Cretensis iv. 18; Virgil, Aeneid, iii. 294-490; Servius on Aeneid, ii. 166, iii. 334.
End of Article: HELENUS
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