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