K to Keres Kerigo to Kleomenes I Kleomenes II to Kronikos Kronos to Kyzikos 2


The Kypria; one of the fragmentary remains of the Epic Cycle which elaborates on the Trojan War and its aftermath; Kypria is another name for the goddess of Love, Aphrodite and the poem revolves around her.

The poem was originally in eleven books but all that remain are twenty two fragments; the author of the Kypria is alternately given as Homer, Stasinus and Hegesias; a brief narrative about the Trojan War is augmented by a series of disjointed facts and sometimes contradictory statements regarding such characters as Helen, Theseus and Nemesis.

The Kypria tells the story (in abbreviated form) of the so-called Judgment of Paris in which the Trojan prince, Alexandros (Paris), is summoned to the wedding of Thetis and Peleus to judge which goddess is most beautiful: Hera, Athene (Athena) or Aphrodite; he chose Aphrodite and won her favor but, at the same time, inflamed the wrath of Athene and Hera.

Aphrodite then suggested that Alexandros build a ship and ordered another of her sons, Aineias (Aeneas), to sail with him; the seers, Helenos and Kassandra (Cassandra) told Alexandros his future but exactly what they told him is lost to us; Alexandros and Aineias sailed to Lakedaemon (Lacedaemon) where they were entertained by Helen and, her husband Menelaos (Menelaus); after Menelaos left for the island of Cyprus, Aphrodite cast a spell on Alexandros and Helen to make them become lovers; they loaded Alexandros’ ship with treasure and sailed away; a storm blew the ship off course and they were carried to Sidon, where Alexandros sacked the city before returning to Troy to marry Helen (or, also according to the Kypria, the two sailed to Troy in three days).

Meanwhile, Helen’s brothers, Kastor (Castor) and Polydeukes (Polydeuces or Pollux), were caught stealing the cattle of Idas and Lynkeus (Lynceus); Kastor was killed by Idas and then he and his brother, Lynkeus, were killed by Polydeukes; Zeus made Kastor and Polydeukes immortal with the condition that while one of them lived on the surface of the earth, the other would reside in the Underworld.

The goddess, Iris, told Menelaos of Helen’s infidelity and he gathered the Greeks to attack Troy; at this point in the remaining fragments of the Kypria, Menelaos consulted Nestor and it becomes obvious that, had the Kypria remained intact, we would have a wealth of information concerning many of the greatest heroes of Greece; as you may recall from The Iliad, Nestor was a storyteller; when he was asked a question or his opinion, he would always digress into a series of tales from his youth and never give a simple or concise answer; if you were in a hurry, I can see how this might be annoying but for someone seeking knowledge, and not just facts, Nestor would have been the perfect mentor; mentioned in the Kypria, but not elaborated upon, are: the story of king Oedipus, the foiled love of Epopeus, the madness of Herakles (Hercules) and the pretense of madness by Odysseus to avoid joining the expedition to Troy.

When the Greeks assembled at the island of Aulis, the seer, Kalkhas (Calchas) correctly read the omen of the serpent and the birds and predicted victory after ten years of fighting; when the fleet sailed from Aulis, they mistook Teuthrania for Troy and sacked the city; the fleet was then scattered and finally returned to Aulis.

The commander of the Greeks, Agamemnon, killed a deer while hunting and boasted that his skill as a bowman surpassed the goddess, Artemis; the enraged goddess sent heavy seas and prevented the fleet from sailing; the seer, Kalkhas, perceived the nature of their plight and advised Agamemnon to send for his daughter, Iphigenia, so that she could be sacrificed to appease Artemis; Agamemnon sent for Iphigenia under the pretense that she was to marry Akhilleus (Achilles); when she was about to be sacrificed, Artemis snatched her from the altar and put a stag in her place; Iphigenia was then made immortal and transported to Tauris.

The winds abated and the fleet left Aulis and proceeded towards Troy; when they stopped at the island of Tenedos, one of the soldiers, Philoktetes (Philoktetes), was bitten by a snake and left on the island of Lemnos; the fleet arrived at Troy and the first Greek soldier killed was Protesilaus; Akhilleus killed Poseidon’s son, Kyenus, and stole the cattle of Aineias (Aeneas); the Greeks demand the return of Helen but the Trojans refused; the Greeks then laid waste to the surrounding cities, taking slaves and plunder; at this point of the Kypria, the Trojan War narrative abruptly ends and the remaining fragments are very abbreviated, some are only a few sentences.

The historian, Herodotus, mentions the Kypria in relation to the abduction of Helen by Alexandros; Herodotus reasons that the lines in the Kypria which differ from Homer’s account of the abduction, in The Iliad, prove that Homer was not the author of the Kypria but he does not state who might have been the true author of this remarkable poem.

For the complete translations of the Epic Cycle I recommend the Loeb Classical Library volume 57, ISBN 0674990633; you can sometimes find this book at the library or you can order it from the Book Shop on this site which is linked to

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K to Keres Kerigo to Kleomenes I Kleomenes II to Kronikos Kronos to Kyzikos 2


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