Monday, November 24, 2008

What Did Helen Say to Menelaus?

Paris and Helen in Wolfgang Peterson's film Troy. Brad Pitt did a fine Achilles, but my students could have written a better script.

After the fall of Troy, Menelaus found Helen and brought her back to Sparta. Given that her flight with Paris was the cause of the great war, one wonders what she first said to Menelaus when he met up with her. And what he replied.

This was the task I gave my students in Creative Mythology--to write the couple's dialogue. Here are a few samples of their work:


M: Hi, long time no see. You're still as beautiful as before.

H: Hah hah! Thank you very much. You didn't change much either. So, how have you been for these last ten years? Has the world changed much? I don't know anything--they put me in a room without TV, newspaper or computer. I felt that I'd almost become a hermit, except that I had a few friends I could talk with.

M: Really? That's amazing. Then let me tell you. There's a new resident in the White House, and what's more, he's not white. Secondly, one of our wedding guests, the leader of Iceland, well, his country is in danger now and has almost gone bankrupt. You really didn't know anything about all this?

H: No, not a bit of it. But tell me, what color is the new president of America? You didn't explain. Is he pink? That's my favorite color!

M: No, you're wrong. He isn't pink, he isn't white and he doesn't belong to any color. Actually, his color is "the color of dreams."

H: I see.

M: So, did you feel afraid when you, a Greek, staying in this dirty Trojan place alone? Did they treat you well? That shameful man, Paris, what about him?

H: Fine. Their food is OK too. But when dark night surrounded the palace, I often felt lonely. And some of my private secrets, such as how I missed my mother country, and missed my newly-wed husband. . . . I couldn't talk about these to them.

M: Then why not call me with the cell phone I gave you?

H: It ran out of batteries. However, all these things aren't important now. I only want to go home and see a movie--Cape 7. Many nobles visiting here from Taiwan promoted this film to Priam. It sounds like a really interesting place, Taiwan. So maybe we can have our honeymoon there after returning to Greece and seeing this film in the theater. It is supposed to really be worth seeing.

M: Sounds great.

May Lu


M: Why have you been there so long?

H: Because the Trojans just kept me in jail.

M: You liar! You stayed with Paris all day. Why didn’t you just kill him?

H: It was too hard. They have so many soldiers.

M: But you could have just killed him when he was beside you.

H: Because I was always thinking about you, so I had no time to kill him.

M: Oh. Really? I love you.

H: I love you too.



M: So how's life in Troy?

H (sadly): It's boring. I can't see you and I keep dreaming about my life in Greece.

M: I think we must go home.

H: But I want to stay here and visit some other places first.

M: Well, how long do you want to be travelling?

H: Maybe another, I don't know, maybe another ten years?

M: Okay, I'll wait for you. You can visit some other countries.

H: Then I'll go to China, Italy, France . . . lots and lots of places. And don't forget me!

M: Bye, then. See you ten years from now.

H: Bye. I wish you luck in the next war. I hope you win.


H: Oh, Menelaus! Nice to see you again! Do you know how the Trojans . . .

M: Stop talking sweet, you trickster! Do I look like a fool? Of course I know what you've been doing here. You've been talking to Paris like "Oh, my baby, come here! Don't worry about those foolish armies. Oh, how mean Menelaus is! I suffered so much with him!" Right?

H: No, of course not! I didn't say anything bad about you. I don't even talk to Paris. I always just hide in the bedroom and cry about "Oh! How poor I am! Why can't I be with my handsome brave husband Menelaus, but have to stay with this ugly coward Paris? Oh, please gods, bring my husband to me!"

M: Really?

H: Really.

M: It's true you will always be my sweetheart. So come here. Come into my arms!

H (coming forward): Oh, Menelaus!

M (pushes her): Back! Do you really think I'd say this to you? After what you did? Don't pretend to be so innocent!

H: Why . . . ? Why are you so mean to me? I didn't do anything wrong. He kidnapped me. Really. I really love you! What's wrong with you? Where's my little Menelaus?

M: Hm. . . . Oh, alright. I believe you, my little Cinderella. I love you too. I missed you so much.

H: I missed you too.

M: Baby!

H: Darling.

M: Sweetheart!

H: Honey!

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