Yeats is someone for whom "the past is never past." He viewed history as interlocking periods of increasing or decreasing order and authority. The fall of the ancient city of Troy marked one such breakdown of order, and he thought that modern society was headed for another period of chaos. Maud Gonne, a traditionally raised woman turned radical, represents one example of history trending toward chaos. Yeats compares Gonne to a figure from ancient Greece, Helen of Troy, whose beauty and mischievous character led to great violence. Maud is a modern-day Helen, even if her impact is limited mainly to Yeats's own life and Ireland.
Although Gonne's role in Irish politics has changed to adapt to new political circumstances, the poem suggests that her character is static and unchanging, like a figure from Greek epic poetry.
Yeats views the political instability in Ireland as a sign of a coming period of chaos, similar to the Ancient World after the destruction of Troy.