Helen regrets her elopement with Paris after seeing him nearly killed by the husband she abandoned, only surviving because a goddess spirited him away in the nick of time.
The quotation begins with a certain loveliness which doesn’t prepare you for her derision. ‘Shining among women’ is radiant, the ‘high-vaulted bedchamber’, an intimate space for a man and woman to meet. Aphrodite, whom I love for being ‘sweetly laughing’, herself pulling up a chair – a goddess in the service of a human – and then wham!, Helen lays into him.
See also the bestellar reviews, complete with rich quote-mosaics, of Adam Nicolson’s magnificent Why Homer Matters, and Christopher Logue’s War Music, a muscular rendition of several books of the Iliad.
‘… but she, shining among women, went to the high-vaulted bedchamber.
Aphrodite the sweetly laughing drew up an armchair,
carrying it, she, a goddess, and set it before Alexandros,
and Helen, daughter of Zeus of the aegis, took her place there
turning her eyes away, and spoke to her lord in derision…’
Source: Homer, The Iliad of Homer, trans. Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1961 (1951)), book 3, p. 111