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Troy Stories Today: Women and Goddesses

This section focuses on the late twentieth century interest in the women at Troy and their goddesses. In order to examine the role of women at Troy, as re-envisioned by the Women's Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, I have selected several recent novels about Troy. Each examines the roles of women and goddesses/gods in the story of Troy, but does so with a late twentieth century twist of feminism, even the one written by a man (Daughter of Troy). None is great literature, but all are interesting, especially when considering what can still be done with this very ancient story tradition.  

  • The Autobiography of Cassandra: Princess & Prophetess of Troy by Ursule Molinaro. (1979; McPherson & Company, first paperback edition, 1992. ISBN 0-929-701-240). graphic of budda
  • Daughter of Troy by Sarah Franklin ( Avon Books. Trade Paperback, 1998. ISBN 0-380-79353-9). Back in print in 2002. For all its apparent focus on women at Troy, "Sarah Franklin" is a pseudonym for a male author, Dave Duncan.
  • The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Pocket Books, 1991. ISBN 0-671-74406-2). Reprinted by Roc Trade; Reissue edition (May 6, 2003); ISBN: 0451459245; also, loads of used copies are for sale on the www.
  • Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass. Book One of The Troy Game. ( A Tor Book, 2003). The first of a four part fantasy series based on the notion of "The Troy Game" being a witchcraft and labyrinth power trip that is played out by Brutus, descendent of Aeneas, among others.
  • Helen of Troy by Margaret George. (Viking, 2006. ISBN 0-670-03778-8. An excellent historical novel about Helen, her Spartan background, and her role in the Trojan War.
  • Iphigenia and Other Daughters in The Greek Plays by Ellen McLaughlin (Theatre Communications Group, 2005). This is a contemporary feminist play in three parts: Iphigenia in Aulis, Electra, and Iphigenia in Tauris. It is an interpretation or adaptation, not a translation, of the Greek originals, and well-worth reading if you are interested in the character of Iphigenia. 
  • The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper (1988; Bantam Books, 1989. ISBN 0-553-28064-3). Spectra; Reissue edition (February 1, 1993). ISBN: 0553280643.
  • Goddess by Miranda Seymour (New York: Coward, McCann & Geohegan, Inc., 1979).  ISBN: 0698109724
  • Helen in Egypt by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (New Directions Publishing Corporation; Reprint edition, 1974.ISBN 0811205444). A modern poetic epic based on the variant myth that Helen never went to Troy.
  • To follow the Goddess by Linda Cargill (Cheops Books, 1991. ISBN 0-9627258-7-0).
  • The Song of Troy: A Story that Will Outlast History  by Colleen McCullough. (Orion Fiction, 1998. ISBN  0-7581-763-9). Not her best work, but a thorough job.

One of the fascinating elements in these contemporary Troy novels, especially The Firebrand, Daughter of Troy, Goddess, The Autobiography of Cassandra, and To Follow the Goddess, is the use of late twentieth century feminism and its rediscovery and/or recreation of ancient times when goddesses had their own religions and women were more powerful and better treated than for the next several thousand years. 

Whatever the actual truth of these modern feminist interpretations, Troy has become a symbol for this late twentieth century interest in the women of Troy and the ancient goddess religions. The Mycenaean Greeks are represented as the patriarchal,  god-worshipping invaders who destroyed the matriarchal, goddess-worshipping civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East, including Troy. The authors of The Firebrand, The Autobiography of Cassandra, Goddess, and To Follow the Goddess are women and clearly influenced by the women's movement. The author of Daughter of Troy is a man and not a feminist; nonetheless, he too uses the goddess theme in his novel. The author of Song of Troy, a woman, uses the old religion/new religion ideas, but does not otherwise make feminism a significant issue in her version.

Sherri Tepper's provocative Gate to Women's Country, carries the myth of Iphigenia into a bitter post-nuclear war future, where women control the cities and men are almost all soldiers, living in armed camps outside the cities and manipulated by the women into killing one another in order to breed violence out of the society.

Some of these books, all paperbacks, may be hard to find, so I suggest referring to the list of Online Booksellers if you can't find them locally.  I have bought all of these books online, some new and some used; none were rare or expensive, so if one interests you, go ahead and search for it.

Women and Goddesses Activities Women and Goddesses Bibliography
Explore the links below



  • Helen in Egypt : an audio recording by H. D. (Hilda Doolittle). She wrote her epic poem based on the variant myth that Helen was never at Troy, but only a false image of her (an eidolon) was there. Helen actually spent the ten years of the Trojan War on an island off of Egypt.
  • "Helen of Troy does Countertop Dancing": a poem by Margaret Atwood.
  • "Helen of Troy": a poem by Sara Teasdale. Helen regrets her role in the destruction of Troy and blames the gods, of course. Annoying ads, but scroll down to the poem.
  • Spartan Women in the Spotlight: a thoughtful, detailed review by Thomas J. Sienkewicz, of Sarah Pomeroy's Spartan Women. Helen of Troy was from Sparta, a very different sort of place from Athens, especially for women.
  • The Trojan Women by Euripides: E-text from MIT.  Sherri Tepper's Gate to Women's Country includes an extremely bitter anti-war play that the women rehearse and perform every year, which is based on a mixture of The Trojan Women and other Greek plays about the Trojan War.
  • What are the best poems about Helen of Troy? Quora site suggests three.


  • Authors and Books: Information about Tepper and Zimmer-Bradley, and about their books.


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© Diane Thompson: 8/25/1998; updated: 8/8/20165/2017