face that launched a thousand ships, was this the

Cultural Dictionary

face that launched a thousand ships, Was this the definition


A line from the sixteenth-century play Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe. Faustus says this when the devil Mephistopheles (Marlowe spells the name “Mephistophilis”) shows him Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in history. The “thousand ships” are warships, a reference to the Trojan War.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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