The Abduction of Helen (page 290 with art)

Chapter 9: Theseus’ Later Exploits

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Istros 334F7 FGrHDie Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 3 pt. B, pp. 170-71, ed. F. Jacoby, 2d ed. Leiden 1957.

Greek Text

ApB 3.10.7 – Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (Library)

And when she [Helen] grew into a lovely woman, Theseus carried her off and brought her to Aphidnae.  But when Theseus was in Hades, Pollux and Castor marched against Aphidnae, took the city, got possession of Helen, and led Aethra, the mother of Theseus, away captive.  Greek Text

Fab 79 – Hyginus, Fabulae

Theseus, son of Aegeus and Aethra, daughter of Pittheus, along with Pirithous, son of Ixion, carried off the maiden Helen, daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, from the shrine of Diana while she was sacrificing, and took her to Athens, to a district of the Attic region. When Jove saw that they had such audacity as to expose themselves to danger, he bade them in a dream both go and ask Pluto on Pirithous’ part for Proserpine in marriage. When they had descended to the Land of the Dead through the peninsula Taenarus, and had informed Pluto why they had come, they were stretched out and tortured for a long time by the Furies. When Hercules came to lead out the three-headed dog, they begged his promise of protection. He obtained the favour from Pluto, and brought them out unharmed. Castor and Pollux, Helen’s brothers, fought for her sake, and took Aethra, Theseus’ mother, and Phisadie, Pirithous’ sister, and gave them in servitude to their sister.  Latin Text

Fab 92 – Hyginus, Fabulae

Alexander, at the prompting of Venus, took Helen from his host Menelaus from Lacedaemon to Troy, and married her. She took with her two handmaids, Aethra and Thisiadie, captives, but once queens, whom Castor and Pollux had assigned to her.  Latin Text

Throne of Apollo at Amyklai (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)

Paus 3.18.15 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

Underneath the throne [at Amyklai], … Peirithous and Theseus have seized Helen. Greek Text


Reconstruction of whole throne by A. Furtwängler, from J.G. Frazer, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, vol. III, Commentary (2nd ed. 1913), p. 352

Chest of Kypselos from temple of Hera at Olympia (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)

Paus 5.19.2-3 – Pausanias, Description of Greece

[2] On the chest are also the Dioscuri, one of them a beardless youth, and between them is Helen. [3] Aethra, the daughter of Pittheus, lies thrown to the ground under the feet at Helen. She is clothed in black, and the inscription upon the group is an hexameter line with the addition of a single word: “The sons of Tyndareus are carrying off Helen, and are dragging Aethra from Athens.”  Greek Text


Detail with rescue of Helen by Dioskouroi, from reconstruction of chest of Kypselos by W. von Massow, “Die Kypseloslade,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung vol. 41 (1916), pl. 1.

Paris, Louvre CA 617: Protocorinthian aryballos with Helen and Dioskouroi


Drawings from L. Couve, “Un lécythe inédit du Musée du Louvre,” Revue archéologique, 3rd series vol. 32 (1898) 213 ff.


Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Olympia, Archaeological Museum M 397: bronze cuirass with Helen and Dioskouroi


Munich, Antikensammlungen 2309: Attic red-figure amphora with Theseus and Helen


Photo from Wikimedia Commons



Front and back panels from Munich 2309, pl. 168 from E. Gerhard, Auserlesene Griechische Vasenbilder, hauptsächlich Etruskischen Fundorts (vol. 3): Heroenbilder, meistens homerisch (1847)

Beazley Archive Pottery Database

Perseus Art & Archaeology Artifact Browser

Digital LIMC

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Edited by Aaron J. Ivey, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Classics, University of Georgia, June 2016; and by Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, July 2016.

Literary sources updated by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, May 2023.

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