The Kypria is one of the lost ancient Greek
epics that make up the culture’s epic cycle. The Kypria centers on the years leading up to the Trojan War and the ﬁrst nine years of the war, which was not covered in Homer’s Iliad. The author of the original work is unknown, although it may have been Homer. The epic may date to the seventh or sixth century B.C.E.
Although the original Kypria was lost, it was summarized in a work in the ﬁfth century B.C.E., the Chrestomatheia. The author of that work may have been Greek philosopher Proclus Diadochus. The work took its name, Kypria, from one of the many names for Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who is a major character in the Kypria.
The Kypria opens with the myth of the judgment of Paris. The Trojan prince was confronted by three goddesses: Athena, goddess of wisdom; Hera, wife of Zeus; and Aphrodite. They demanded that he select the most beautiful of them. When Paris named Aphrodite the winner, she rewarded him with Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman. But Helen was the wife of Menelaos, king of Sparta. When Paris stole Helen away and took her to Troy, Menelaos and his brother, Agamemnon, declared war on Troy.
The Greek army gathered, but before they set sail they were warned that the war would last ten years. Agamemnon sacriﬁced his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt, and gain safe passage for the ships.
When the Greeks landed at Troy, they demanded the return of Helen and her dowry, but the Trojans refused. The Greeks besieged the city. The narrative brieﬂy describes the ﬁrst nine years of the siege and then ends abruptly.
There is a side story, however, that is linked to the motif of a vegetation deity that dies and is reborn seasonally. Helen’s brothers, Castor and Polydeuces (or Pollux), were caught stealing cattle and were slain. Zeus made them immortal, with the understanding that when one lived on Earth, the other must reside in the underworld.