Alex, I'll Take Helen of Troy for $500 Please

Helen is one of the most generic names in the Iliad, and indicates that this woman was an heiress (and more particularly a God's Wife of Amun in Egypt). The name Helen continued to hold much the same significance as late as Herodian times.

So let's make a quick review of the leading queens of the 19th & 20th Dynasties and see how they caused the various rival lines to become so tightly coupled.

Nefertari was arguably the most famous of all Egytpian queens, and held the office of God's Wife of Amun in the early reign of Ramses II.

Her firstborn son was Amen-hir-khepeshef/Osorkon III/Alara. She also become the mother of Hori/Iuput II/Kashta by Ramses II. Nefertari was also the mother of a daughter Merit-Amon, who succeeded in the office of God's Wife. However, she eventually became eclipsed by a daughter of the heir apparent Khaemwaset, whose name was Tentsai/Pebajma. The Bible calls her "Jerusha". She was the mother of the leading prince Pi-anky/Rudamun/Piye by Hori/Kashta and of Amenemope/Shabaka/Takelot III by Amen-hir-khepeshef/Osorkon III.

After Khaemwaset died and Meremptah became co-regent of Ramses II in Year 55, he established one of his own young daughters Tiy-Merenese as God's Wife. She became the mother of two heirs. For Ramses/Tefnakhte (son of Khaemwaset) she bore Ramses III/Psusennes (the future Cyrus I). For Piye (son of Hori) she bore Nimlot/Menkheperre (the future Sennacherib). The former God's Wife, Merit-Amon (a.k.a. Karomala) did not seem to have any prominent sons, but one of her daughters became a God's Wife of Amun and the mother of two other great princes. She bore Osorkon IV (the future Esarhaddon) for Takelot III (Tiglath-pileser III). For Piye, she bore a second powerful son Psamtek-Taharqa (Astyges/Gyges).

One final lady must be mentioned. Piye had a son named Pinedjem by his half-sister Hrere (the daughter of his father Hori by princess Nodjmet). Just before he died Ramses the Great arranged for Hrere to become the queen of Ramses-Tefnakhte and named his "eldest son" Pinedjem as successor to the kingdom. He no doubt hoped that this compromise would be accepted and put an end to the civil war that was already out of control. Unfortunately no one was happy with this solution, including Ramses-Tefnakhte (Paris) and Piye (Menelaus) and the fighting continued after the death of Ramses II.

When Piye ultimately gained the upper hand, Pinedjem remained king of Egypt, but was subordinate once again to his father Piye as king of the (now) greater thrones he seized from Shabaka in Nubia and Assyria. At that time, the status of Tiy-merenese (Henutawy A/Tentamon/Makare) daughter of Meremptah as a God's Wife seems to have been ignored or superseded by Piye. Piye naturally appointed one of his own daughters to the office, Shepenwepet. (footnote ak)

So, with that as a background, let's see if we can interpret the "chicken bones" of Chart 26:

We have a few good candidates for Helen of Troy.

(1) Tiy-Merenese is perhaps the strongest because she had sons by both Ramses-Tefnakhte (Paris) and by Piye (Menelaus). Tiy-Merenese was also the daughter of Meremptah (Priam). In the Iliad Helen calls Priam father. However, the Iliad also names her father not as Priam but as Tyndareus ("pounder").

(2) The name Tyndareus seems to better suit Osorkon III/Assur-dan III than Meremptah. Osorkon's daughter was the God's Wife Shepenwepet. As she had sons by both Piye (Menelaus) and Takelot III (Agamemnon), a winning of her by Ramses-Tefnakhte would have understandably led to an alliance of the "brothers" against him.

(3) The name Hrere is actually the closest in form to the Greek name Helen, that is, if you substitute the r's for l's in Hrere (to get Helele). She had a son by Piye (Menelaus) and later also made a match with Ramses-Tefnakhte.

So the real Helen was one of the above queens, or a composite based on two or more of them.

Alex, did we pick a "Daily Double"? Hmm, how much should we wager on this one?

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Parallels in Homer and Sophocles