Menelaus, red-haired, son of Atreus and brother of Agamemnon. King of Sparta (Lacedaemon). The abduction of his wife Helen by Paris was the casus belli for the Trojan War. All Helen's suitors had pledged to help her and Menelaus if anything went wrong. In the Iliad he picks up Paris' challenge to single combat in Book 3, but is hurt by Pandarus' arrow in Book 4. He is a bit of a softy compared with the other warriors (he actually wants to spare Adrestus in Book 6 until Agamemnon persuades him otherwise). Agamemnon is very anxious for him not to go on the raid in Book 10. In 17 he has some good fights. After the Iliad he returns home safely and is found in domestic bliss at Sparta by Telemachus in the Odyssey (Book 4). In later literature he becomes nastier - especially in Euripides' Orestes. A Mycenaean palace is being excavated at Therapne, above Sparta, near the so-called Menelaion - allegedly the tomb of Menelaus and Helen.

The Menelaion, SpartaJames and Andy near the Menelaion on a wet day in 1996