Menelaus, in Greek mythology, was a legendary king of Lacedemonia (Sparta), younger brother of Agamemnon and son of Atreus. The abduction of his wife (Helen) by Paris (also known as Alexander), gave rise to the Trojan War.
After the fall of Troy, he recovered his wife.
Homer tells that Menelaus was not one of the best warriors, but he was very noble and possessed great wealth. Menelaus and Helen had a daughter named Hermione.
Menelaus is described by Homer as blond in the Iliad and Odyssey.
There are basically two versions of who Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon's parents were, who could be either sons of Atreus and Aérope or grandsons of these.
Atreus was king of Mycenae, son of Pelops and Hippodamia, grandson of Tantalus, twin brother of Thestes and father or grandfather of Agamemnon and Menelaus.
There are variants who would be the father of Agamemnon and Menelaus:
in Pseudo-Apolodorus, Agamemnon and Menelaus are the sons of Plystene and Aérope, daughter of Catreu.
in Hesiod and Aeschylus, quoted by Tzetzes, a Byzantine poet and grammarian, Plisthenes was the son of Atreus and Aérope, and Agamemnon, Menelaus and Anaxibia were Plisthenes' children with Cleola, daughter of Dias.
In Dictis of Crete, calling Agamemnon and Menelaus the sons of Plisthenes, rather than the sons of Atreus, was a way of offending them. Family tree based on John Tzetzes, adding the paternity of Atreus and Dias:
Helen, daughter of Zeus and Leda, wife of Tyndareus, had several suitors. Odysseus suggested that all suitors swear to defend the chosen one from any evil done against him; only then did Tyndareus choose Menelaus to marry Helen, and made Icharius, his brother, marry Penelope, daughter of Icharius, to Odysseus.
Menelaus and Helen had a daughter, Hermione.
Abduction of Helen
At a fraternization between Spartans and Trojans, Helen fled with Paris to Troy which gave rise to the entire Trojan War, when this happened Hermíone was only nine years old.
Menelaus had two sons, Nicostratus and Megapentus, with a slave girl. According to a fragment of Hesiod, Nicostratus was the son of Helen and Menelaus, or the son of Ares.
In Pseudo-Apolodorus, Nicostratus is, according to some, the son of Helen and Menelaus, and Megapente is the son of an Aetolian slave named Pieris or, according to Acusilau, the son of Tereis; another son of Menelaus, according to Eumelus, was Xenodamus, son of the nymph Cnossia.
Capture of Troy
After the capture of Troy, Menelaus took revenge on Glyphobo, who had taken Helen as his wife after Alexander's death; Glyphobo was tortured to death, cut to pieces, and had ears, arms, nose, and the rest of his body cut off.
After the Trojan War (according to Homer)
After the Trojan War, Menelaus received Telemachus, who was looking for Odysseus, accompanied by Pisistratus, son of Nestor.
After the Trojan War (according to Dictis of Crete)
Menelaus landed in Crete, and there discovered the death of Agamemnon. He then returned to Mycenae, where he tried to kill Orestes, but was prevented by the people, who decided that Orestes should go to Athens, where he would be tried.
Idomeneus then invited Orestes and Menelaus to Crete, where Orestes accused Menelaus of plotting against him at a time when he was weakened, but Idomeneus reconciled them, and Menelaus promised Hermíone in marriage to Orestes. But Hermíone married Neoptolemo, son of Achilles.
When Neoptolemus went to Delphi to give thanks for the death of Alexander, who had killed his father, Hermíone, worried that Neoptolemus was paying more attention to his captive wife Andromache than to her, asked Menelau to kill Andromache and Hector's son Laodamante, but Andromache discovered the plan and fled.
Orestes also discovered these plans, and wanted Menelaus to carry them out, because he wanted to kill Neoptolemus, who had married Hermione, who was promised to him. Menelaus wanted no part in the crime, and returned to Sparta.