In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy was the daughter of the god king, Zeus, and had the reputation as the most beautiful woman in the world. As the most desirable bride in all of Greece, her hand in marriage was won by the suitor Menelaus of Sparta. Under the influence of Aphrodite (the greek goddess of love) Helen's loyalty to her husband faltered when she met the Trojan prince, Paris, and the lovers eloped with Menelaus' treasury. When the Trojans refused to return Helen and the stolen treasure, Menelaus assembled a great army and brought about the decade-long Trojan War.
This image illustrates the version of Helen in the Illiad, where Homer paints a poignant, lonely picture of Helen in Troy, and the similar sympathetic views by Scottish poet, Andrew Lang, in which Helen is filled with self-distaste and regret for what she has caused. This painting depicts Helen's state of despondency, bitterness, sorrow and shame. Helen's new husband, Paris, has proven to be weak and uncaring, and by the end of the war, the Trojans have come to hate her for the havoc she has brought to their city.
The title is taken from Lang's lyrical version of Helen of Troy from a scene following the war, when Helen is found by her previous husband, Menelaus. Intent on executing her for her crimes, Menelaus publically accuses Helen for the miseries of the Spartans:
"Behold the very fountain of your woe!
...These sorrows hath his woman wrought alone."