Human feelings are always mixed, and there is no true unconditional love. Explain this statement byanalyzing the relationship of Helen and Paris in the Iliad.

In book 3 of the Iliad, we find that Helen and Paris have mixed feelings about one another. They experience an overpowering lust for each other, but this is marred by guilt, because they both know they are putting passion ahead of duty.

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As we see in book 3 of the Iliad, Helen and Paris have mixed feelings for one another. Especially in Helen, lust and an extreme desire for Paris mix with a sense of sorrow and disgust at the consequences that the lust the two share has brought on. Helen, for example, says,

I weep all the time.

When Paris comes back to her, initially defeated in his fight with Menelaus but still alive, Helen shows her conflicted feelings towards him when she says,

You’ve come back from the fight. How I wish you’d died there, killed by that strong warrior
who was my husband once.

Paris both notes his wife's mockery and conflicted feelings and says,

But come,
let’s enjoy our love together on the bed.
Never has desire so filled my mind as now,
not even when I first took you away
from lovely Lacedaemon, sailing off
in our sea-worthy ships, or when I lay with you in our lover’s bed on the isle of Cranae.
That’s how sweet passion has seized hold of me,
how much I want you now.

Both these characters are ruled by their passionate sexual desire for one another. On a carnal or bodily level, they love each other, but the conditions in which they love put a heavy strain on the relationship. Both know they are doing the wrong thing to stay together. Though Hector tells Helen none of this is her fault (after all, she was abducted by Paris), she knows in her heart she should end the war by going back to Menelaus. Paris, too, realizes he should be fighting, not making love to Helen in the middle of a war. Their love is marred by guilt because it is ruled by passion, not a dedication to duty.

In Homer's hands, Paris and Helen become the symbols of the error of allowing one's emotions to rule over reason. Being ruled by passion leads to disorder and warfare.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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