2015-03-12 00:35:45 UTC
The common interpretation is to see Helen and Paris as villains who brought on the war. Rather the true villain is Menelaus, who thought that his possessive interest over his wife justified killing thousands of innocent people and destroying a whole civilization. Whatever "hubris" can be ascribed to Paris and Helen, he had to a much greater extent; and unlike him, Paris and Helen were not mass murderers.
Whether or not there were such people as Helen, Menelaus and Paris - and whether or not there was a Trojan war - is immaterial. Far more important are the lessons drawn from the Iliad, as these have real implications for real people's lives. The lesson that Iliad teaches is that love is wrong and that jealousy and possessiveness, even to the point of mass murder, is rightful. And that is a terrible lesson to teach people.
My wife has left me, but I wouldn't dream of killing her or anyone else over it. Instead I have maintained a good relationship with her and her new husband. If I can do it, then so can the next man; and it is this attitude, not ones formative to the Iliad, that should be encouraged in people.
Oscar Wilde said that we've been given a world that only our folly prevents from being a paradise. The world is what people make of it; which means that it is our duty to make the world the best that it can be. Love should be accepted and encouraged; jealousy and possessiveness should be confronted. The wrong lessons from the Iliad should be unlearned and replaced with better lessons. The result will be more beauty and goodness and less violence. And that is a worthy future toward which to strive.