The latest addition to my family, my grand-niece Leda.
My first concern is that she not get too friendly with Swans. Last time that happened a pretty little girl was born, and married Menelaus the Mycenean King of Sparta. Helen of Sparta is not how we remember her, for Paris, son of Priam, stole her away to his home city. And so we remember her as the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illium.
Illium was the ancient name for the city of Troy, so Helen of Troy was daugher of Leda. But who was the father of this child with the dreadful fate? It was Zeus himself, who raped Leda, in the guise of a male swan.
And the brother of Menelaus? The dread Agamemnon King of Mycenae itself, ruler of all the Achaeans as the Greeks called themselves in those days. From this followed ten years of war. Ajax and Achilles, Hector and Aeneas, wily Odysseus and his Trojan Horse. Death and destruction as the Gods themselves engaged in the battle of the great Homeric Epic.
Calling a daughter Leda can come to no good I say. But I am Cassandra and they shall not listen.
Leda and the Swan; by W.B. Yeats
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
by the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
the feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
but feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
the broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
so mastered by the brute blood of the air,
did she put on his knowledge with his power
before the indifferent beak could let her drop?