Oenone ( , from Ancient
Greek Oinōnē - Οἰνώνη "wine woman") was the first wife
of Paris of Troy, whom he
abandoned for the queen Helen of Sparta.
a mountain nymph (an oread) on Mount Ida in Phrygia, a mountain
associated with the Mother Goddess Cybele,
Her father was
, a river-god. Her very name links her
to the gift of wine.
Paris, son of the king Priam
and the queen
, fell in love with Oenone when he was
a shepherd on the slopes of Mount Ida, having been exposed in infancy
owing to a prophecy that he
would be the means of the destruction of the city of Troy but
rescued by the herdsman Agelaus
. The couple
married, and Oenone gave birth to a son, Corythus
When Paris later abandoned her to return to Troy and sail across
the Aegean to kidnap Helen, the queen of Sparta, Oenone predicted
the Trojan War
. Out of revenge for Paris'
betrayal, she sent Corythus to guide the Greeks to Troy. Another
version has it that she used her son to drive a rift between Paris
and Helen, but Paris, not recognizing his own son, killed
The only extensive surviving narration of Oenone and Paris is
, book X.259-489, which tells
the return of wounded Paris to Oenone. Mortally wounded by Philoctetes
' arrow, he begged Oenone to heal him
with her herbal arts, but she refused and cast him out with scorn,
to return to Helen's bed, and Paris died on the lower slopes of
Ida. Then, overcome with remorse, Oenone, the one whole-hearted
mourner of Paris, threw herself onto his burning funeral pyre,
which the shepherds had raised. A fragment of Bacchylides
suggests that she threw herself off
a cliff, in Bibliotheke
it is noted "when she found him
dead she hanged herself," and Lycophron imagined her hurtling head
first from the towering walls of Troy. Her tragic story makes one
of the Love Romances
of Parthenius of Nicaea
includes an imagined reproachful letter
from Oenone to Helen in his collection Heroides
, a text that has been extended by a
number of spurious post-Ovidian interpolations, which include a
rape of Oenone by Apollo that is nowhere confirmed in other
"Oenone and Paris" (1594) is an epillyon by Thomas Heywood
"The Misjudgment Of Oenone" is a play by Michael R. McGuire.
adapted Quintus' treatment
of the theme for "The death of Oenone" (1892), distilling its
- In Jean
Racine's play Phèdre, the name Oenone is given to
- Oenone was also the ancient name of an island, which was later
named after Aegina, daughter of the river god
- Her gift of prophecy was learned from Rhea, according to
ps-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke, 3.12.6; on-line English
translations of the relevant Classical references are at Theoi Project.
- On-line text
- "Oenone, skilled in drugs". according to Lycophron, Alexandra,
- Bacchylides, fr. 20D
- Parthenius, 4.
- Heroides v.
- Sergio Casali, reviewing The Cambridge Heroides in
The Classical Journal 92.3 (February
1997, pp. 305-314) pp306-07.
- Tennyson dedicated his poem to the classical scholar
Jowett as "a Grecian tale retold" and in his Memoirs
(ii.386) credited it with being "even more strictly classical in
form and language than the old", as Wilfred P. Mustard noted in
The American Journal of Philology 23.3
(1902), p 318. See "The death of Oenone"