Joshua J. Mark
published on 02 September 2009
Oenone (her name comes from the Greek word oinos, for 'wine’) was a Greek nymph and daughter of the river god Cebren, who lived on Mount Ida where she met the young Paris of the city of Troy. The two were married and enjoyed their life together until Paris’ voyage to Sparta where he met Helen, wife of Menelaus, and carried her off (thus igniting the Trojan War).
Oenone had been given the gift of prophecy by Rhea (the mother of the gods) and so foresaw the results of Paris’ actions in Sparta and tried to talk him out of going. Paris refused, however, and so Oenone told him that, should he be wounded in his venture, he should return to her for only she could heal him. When, in the course of the Trojan War, Paris was struck by the arrow of Philoctetes, he was carried to Mount Ida to be saved by the potions of Oenone. She, hurt by his betrayal of her with Helen of Sparta, refused to help him and he was brought back to Troy. Oenone repented of her decision and rushed to Troy with aid but arrived too late and found Paris already dead. In her grief and regret she flung herself onto his flaming funeral pyre and died (alternate ends of Oenone’s life claim she hanged herself or threw herself off a cliff near Troy).
Her name has since been translated as 'Lover of Paris’ without regard to etymological roots. The Greek island of Aegina was originally known as Oenone or Oinone, 'Island of Wine’, due to the excellence of the wine made there, before the great King Aeacus re-named it after his mother. It is generally held that the island’s original name had nothing to do with the Greek nymph. The English poet Tennyson (1809-1892 CE) wrote a famous poem about Oenone in 1833 CE which sparked widespread interest in the legend in the 19th century CE and inspired artists of the Romantic period.
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