face that launched a thousand ships, the

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face that launched a thousand ships, the

fAn exceptionally beautiful woman; or, ironically, someone lacking in beauty. The phrase comes from Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus (ca. 1588), and describes Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Greece, whose legendary beauty led to her abduction by Paris, which set off the Trojan War. “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?” wrote Marlowe.
See also: face, launch, that, thousand
References in periodicals archive ?
The role of the woman with "the face that launched a thousand ships" is inhabited by a beefy middle-aged man who plays three other characters as well--including one of Helen's would-be murderers.
The face that launched a thousand ships acquires an engaging, intelligent and surprisingly guileless voice in George's sweeping novel.
Hers was the face that launched a thousand ships, but who could possibly be beautiful enough to play Helen Of Troy on the big screen?