Why is Helen, in Agamemnon, compared with a domesticated lion cub?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Helen (the wife of Menelaus in Agamemnon) is compared to a lion cub through a parable spoken by the Chorus. The Chorus of the Argive Elders tells a parable about a man who raised a lion cub in his home. The lion cub, early in life, was gentle enough to bring children around. As the lion cub grew, its true nature grew as well. The lion, as part of its nature, killed the flocks kept by the man who raised it.

The Chorus continues, changing the message to fit Helen. They state that she has arrived "as a gentle spirit." Later, she "changed her direction" and "destroyed all those she lived with."

Based upon the parable, Helen is very much like the lion cub that turned on the hand which fed it.

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