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The Trojan War (

The Trojan War (


Sorry, no Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom, just Mrs. B and some black figure art.

What Was the Trojan War?

The Trojan War was a long ordeal that is thought to have lasted for 10 years. Although the war itself was gruesome, the journey home proved to be just as difficult and took some individuals another 10 years to complete. The end result was a 20 year journey that was told through countless different forms of art and literature.

Map of the Trojan War States

One of the most significant facts in the story of the Trojan War is that it was considered to be the last major event of the mythical age – likely because one of the main goals of the war was thought to be to eliminate the demigods that lived on the Earth.

Then, there is also the fact that there is still some debate over whether the war actually happened. There are many theories that offer up an answer to this question. Some believe that the Trojan War did occur, though they believe that many of the events of the war were fabricated in order to read better as poetry. They believe that the war was likely much smaller in scale and not quite as bloody as described in Homer’s texts.

There were also those that believed that the war did happen, but that the Trojans had won. These theorists claim that the Greeks came up with the tale that we know recognize as being the events of the Trojan War to try to cover up their humiliating defeat.

Then, there were those who believed the war never really happened and Troy was never a real place. These theorists gained the most popularity in the 1870’s and remained the most common perspective until Heinrich Schliemann published the work from his excavations at Hisarlik – the modern site which he believed was the ancient city of Troy. The site was verified to, in fact, be Troy in November of 2001, though few believe the events of the Iliad and the Odyssey actually occurred as they were presented.

Clues Left by the Hittites

To the East of Troy ruled the Hittite empire over most of Anatolia, centered at Hattusa , near modern day Boğazkale (formerly, Boğazköy), Turkey. Discovered within the ruins of the mighty Hittite citadel were piles of baked tablets. Each written in a cuneiform script, but in what was at the time an undeciphered language, until scholars in the mid-20th Century AD uncovered the Hittite language to be that of an early Indo-European type (Macqueen, 24).

With its code cracked, these tablets would rewrite the history of the Late Bronze Age. Written within the translated texts were activities and negotiations between two world powers, the Hittites and the Ahhiyawa. At first, the origin of the Ahhiyawa puzzled scholars, but before long they were to be identified as Homer’s Achaean, or the Mycenaean Greeks. From the 15th century BC to as late as the 12th century BC, the Mycenaeans were involved in assorted activities all along the Western Anatolian coast, both for and in opposition to the Hittite empire.

The Lion Gate at Hattusa. ( robnaw /Adobe Stock)

Another key piece of evidence is the reading of a small vassal kingdom to the northwest of Anatolia routinely referred to as Wilusa (Cline, 55). Wilusa was immediately identified with Homer’s Ilios, which was another name for Troy. These tablets would continue to provide a cast of characters which would later be reflected in the Homeric epic, such as Atreus, Alexandros (another name for Paris), and even a possible rendering of Priam.

Scenes From the Trojan War

Paris, prince of Troy and son of King Priam, (with scepter) shakes hands with Hermes, accepting his fate to judge the most beautiful of the goddesses. Aphrodite wins the contest by offering Helen (the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta) to Paris as a bribe, setting off the Trojan War. Amphorae, like this 6th-century-BC example, were used for storing and transporting liquids and grain. Large amphorae filled with olive oil were also given as prizes during games and athletic competitions. (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu)

Achilles withdrew from battle after his compatriot Agamemnon insisted on claiming Briseis, Achilles’ “prize bride.” Another Greek hero, Odysseus (left), motivated by battlefield losses in Achilles’ absence, tries to convince the sulking hero to fight. This 4th-century-BC fragment of a kylix may have come from a vessel used in a wine-drinking game called kottabos. (Douris, painter/Kleophrades, potter/The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu)

The scene of Achilles (on the left) and Ajax (on the right) playing a board game was popular in 6th-century-BC Athens, even though no such encounter appears in the recorded epic poems. Both men are fully armed, and in this depiction, Athena, goddess of war, stands in the foreground. (Leagros Group, painter/The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu)

This 6th-century-BC amphora shows Odysseus as he slits the throat of a Thracian warrior during a night raid on a Trojan encampment. Odysseus and Diomedes were sent on a mission to steal the horses of Rhesos, the Thracian king. (The Inscription Painter/The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu)

After the death of Achilles, Ajax and Odysseus quarrel for his armor, which is eventually awarded to Odysseus. Shamed by his loss, Ajax commits suicide. This 5th-century-BC kylix shows Tekmessa, Ajax’s lover, rushing to cover his dead body. (Brygos Painter/The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu)

Aeneas, the Trojan hero and legendary founder of Rome, carries his father, Anchises, to safety during the sack of Troy. The goddess Aphrodite, Aeneas’s mother, waves sorrowfully to the group, which is lead by Aeneas’s son Ascanius. The painter of this 6th-century-BC amphora labeled all the people and included commentary on their beauty. (Leagros Group/The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu)

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Was there a Trojan War?

Always be the best, my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others. Never disgrace the generations of your fathers. -- The Iliad (trans. by Robert Flagles). Hippolochus to his son Glaucus

7th century BC pottery depiction of the Trojan Horse

More Information

Was there a Trojan War? The short answer is "probably." Though for most of modern history, archeologists believed that the war was just a legend, today it is accepted that there probably was such a war. The amateur archeologist Heinrich Schliemann, using The Iliad and the The Odyssey of Homer as a guide, discovered the ruins of a powerful city in Asia Minor. The Ancient Greeks from the classical period thought the Trojan War was a historical event that had taken place in the 13th or 12th century BC, and believed that Troy was located in modern day Turkey and the Dardanelles. The city Schlieman found is where Troy would have been, and was destroyed at the end of the 13th century. Its location and apparent wealth suggest that it would have been a trade rival to the fpowerful Mycenaeans. The prize was control of the Aegean. Other parts of the poems appear to have had a historical basis. Archeologists discovered great bronze age cities on the mainland, the remnants of the Mycenaeans.

Archeologists discovered that there was a powerful city in Asia Minor where Troy would have been, which was destroyed at the end of the 13th century. There were many levels of cities on this site. The one which most likely corresponds with the great war of the Achaeans is Troy VII, which was destroyed in 1190 BC either by earthquake or by attack. Its location and apparent wealth suggest that it would have been a trade rival to the powerful Mycenaeans.The prize was control of the Aegean. Other parts of the poems appear to have had a historical basis. Archeologists discovered great bronze age cities on the mainland, the remnants of the Mycenaeans. Archeologists studying Troy found a Mycenean cemetery at Besik Bay, south of Troy, which may have been the Greek landing place - there were over 50 cremations with grave goods, so the Mycenaeans were there.

It is clear that Troy had contact with the Mycenaeans. Trojan pottery imitating the Mycenaean style has been found at the Troy excavations.

But the truth in the poems is only a kernel. Bards modified as they transmitted the poems through the dark centuries. The more interesting the poems, the more enthusiastic the response from their audiences, and the greater the stature of the poet. And the descriptions became more and more distorted, as features of the dark age culture became part of the poems. For example Homer speaks of iron in weapons, which was common in the iron age civilization of the dark ages, but which would not have been present in Mycenaean culture, a bronze age civilization. In The Iliad the leaders were cremated as they were in the Iron Age, while the Mycenaeans clearly buried their noble dead in tholos tombs.

The evidence indicates that the Mycenaeans probably did sack Troy in around 1250 BCE. But around 1200 BCE sees the the decline of the Mycenaeans. One theory of the Mycenaean fall may be found in Homer and Greek legends. The war took a toll on their civilization. When the kings returned they found their power weakened, and were engaged in power struggles. Odysseus, for example, when he finally arrived at Ithica, found his loyal wife Penelope hounded by suitors. She had reached the point where she had to accept one of them, who would then become the king. Other returning kings, such as Agamemnon, met bad fates. Do these stories have a kernel of truth too? Did the Mycenaean kings have to fight for their place when they came back from Troy? Were they so weakened by 10 years of war, that they never regained their prosperity and power?

Just history.

Detail from The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by DomenicoTiepolo (1773), inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid (Google images)

The Trojan War is probably one of the most widely known wars of all time but most of what we know about the Trojan War is based on myth. We have probably all read or at least heard of Homer’s Iliad. The Iliad tells a part of the last year of the siege of Troy. The Trojan War is mentioned in the old epic poems in the Epic Cycle, also known as the Cyclic Epics: the Cypria, Aethiopis, Little Iliad, Iliou Persis, Nostoi, and Telegony. Though these poems survive only in fragments, their content is known from a summary included in Proclus’ Chrestomathy. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets including Virgil and Ovid.

It all begins with a golden apple or its true name the “Apple of Discord” and starts with the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, a sea-goddess. Zeus hosted a banquet on Mount Olympus to celebrate the wedding. Everyone was invited except for Eris, the goddess of discord, the outraged goddess stormed into the wedding banquet and threw a golden apple onto the table. According to Eris, The apple belonged to whomever was the fairest goddess. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each reached for the apple because they each thought themselves the most beautiful. They quarrelled bitterly over it, and none of the other gods would venture an opinion favouring one, for fear of earning the enmity of the other two. Eventually, Zeus ordered Hermes to lead the three goddesses to Paris, a prince of Troy, who, unaware of his ancestry, was being raised as a shepherd in Mount Ida, because of a prophecy that he would be the downfall of Troy.

Paris was a child of Priam and Hecuba. Just before his birth, his mother dreamed that she gave birth to a flaming torch. This dream was interpreted by the seer Aesacus as a foretelling of the downfall of Troy, and he declared that the child would be the ruin of his homeland. On the day of Paris’s birth it was announced by Aesacus that the child born of a royal Trojan that day would have to be killed to spare the kingdom because of the prophecy. Paris was spared by Priam and Hecuba, despite the urging of the priestess of Apollo. Priam asked his chief herdsman, Agelaus, to remove the child and kill him. The herdsman, unable to use a weapon against the infant, left him exposed on Mount Ida, hoping he would perish there, he was, however, suckled by a she-bear. Returning after nine days, Agelaus was astonished to find the child still alive, and brought him home in a backpack to rear as his own. He returned to Priam bearing a dog’s tongue as evidence of the deed’s completion. Paris grew up to be one of the most intelligent and handsome men known in the land.

Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector’s body around Troy, from a panoramic fresco of the Achilleion ( Google images )

Hermes escorted the three goddesses to the spring of Mount Ida where they bathed and then approached Paris as he herded his cattle. Having been given permission by Zeus to set any conditions he saw fit, Paris required that the goddesses undress before him He was unable to decide between them, so the goddesses began to offer bribes. Athena offered Paris wisdom, skill in battle, and the abilities of the greatest warriors Hera offered him power and control of all of Asia and Aphrodite offered him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Of course Paris awarded the apple to Aphrodite, infuriating the Hera and Athena. The two goddesses bitter with Paris would eventually help Sparta win the war. Paris, eager for his new bride to be, prepared to set off for Sparta to capture Helen. Twin prophets Cassandra and Helenus (also children of King Priam and Hecuba) tried to persuade him against such action, as did his mother, Hecuba. But Paris would not listen and he set off for Sparta anyway.

Helen was a daughter of Tyndareus, King of Sparta and her mother was Leda. Helen was a renowned beauty and had scores of suitors, and her father was unwilling to choose one for fear the others would retaliate violently. Odysseus of Ithaca, proposed a plan to solve the dilemma. In exchange for Tyndareus’ support of his own suit towards Penelope. He suggested that Tyndareus require all of Helen’s suitors to promise that they would defend the marriage of Helen, regardless of whom she chose. The suitors duly swore the required oath on the severed pieces of a horse, most were not happy agreeing to the oath but did it anyway. Tyndareus than chose Menelaus as a political choice. He had wealth and power. He had humbly not petitioned for her himself, but instead sent his brother Agamemnon on his behalf. He had promised Aphrodite a hecatomb, a sacrifice of 100 oxen, if he won Helen, but forgot about it and earned her wrath. Menelaus inherited Tyndareus’ throne of Sparta with Helen as his queen and Agamemnon married Helen’s sister Clytemnestra and took back the throne of Mycenae.

When Paris entered Sparta, Menelaus treated him as a royal guest. However, when Menelaus left Sparta to go bury his uncle, Crateus in Crete , Paris abducted Helen, who was shot with an arrow from Eros, otherwise known as Cupid, and fell in love with Paris when she saw him, as promised by Aphrodite and he also carried off much of Menelaus’ wealth. The couple returned to Troy and were married. Menelaus was of course justifiably outraged to find that Paris had taken Helen. He called upon all of Helen’s old suitors, because of the long ago oath that they had all taken.

The Burning of Troy (1759/62), oil painting by Johann Georg Trautmann ( Google images )

Many of the suitors did not wish to go to war. Odysseus pretended to be insane but this trick was uncovered by Palamedes. He travelled the region with Pylos’ king, Nestor, to recruit forces. He also attempted to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means but was unsuccessful. Achilles, though not one of the previous suitors, was sought after because the seer Calchas had stated that Troy would not be taken unless Achilles would fight. Probably one of the most interesting stories is of Cinyras, king of Paphos, in Cyprus, he did not wish to go to war, but promised Agamemnon fifty ships for the Greek fleet. True to his word, Cinyras did send fifty ships. The first ship was commanded by his son. The other forty-nine, however, were toy clay ships, with tiny clay sailors. They dissembled soon after being placed in the ocean

The Greek fleet assembled, under the command of Agamemnon. He either killed one of Diana’s (Greek: Artemis) sacred stags or made a careless boast and Diana was outraged, so she calmed the seas so that the fleet could not take off. The seer Calchas proclaimed that Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia, must be sacrificed before the fleet could set sail. This was done, and the Greek ships set off in search of Troy.

The Trojans were also defended well with Hector, Paris’s brother, and a Trojan prince and the greatest warrior for Troy in the Trojan War. He was the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba. He was known for his was courage and courtly nature. He was married to Andromache, with whom he had an infant son, Scamandrius. Hector was to meet his untimely end in a fight with Achilles.

Achilles was the son of the Nereid Thetis and King Peleus. He was probably considered Sparta’s greatest warrior. Agamemnon had taken a woman named Chryseis as his slave and her father Chryses, a priest of Apollo, begged Agamemnon to return her to him. Agamemnon refused and angered Apollo. Achilles intervened and Agamemnon consented to Achilles, but then commands that Briseis (Achilles slave) be brought to him to replace Chryseis. Achilles is thought to have been in love with Briseis and he refused to fight or lead his troops alongside the other Greek forces. The Trojans, led by Hector, pushed the Greek army back toward the beaches and assaulted the Greek ships. With the Greek forces on the verge of absolute destruction, Patroclus, a close friend of Achilles, led the Myrmidons into battle wearing Achilles’ armor, though Achilles remained at his camp. Patroclus succeeded in pushing the Trojans back from the beaches, but was killed by Hector before he could lead a proper assault on the city of Troy. This enraged Achilles and he ended his strike against Agamemnon and took the field killing many men in his rage. He then sought out Hector and when he found him, he chased Hector around the wall of Troy three times before Hector decided he wanted to go down fighting, and charged at Achilles with his only his sword, but missed.

Accepting his fate, Hector begged Achilles, not to spare his life, but to treat his body with respect after killing him. Achilles told Hector it was hopeless to expect that of him, declaring that “my rage, my fury would drive me now to hack your flesh away and eat you raw – such agonies you have caused me.” Achilles then killed Hector and dragged his corpse by its heels behind his chariot. Hector’s father, Priam, went to Achilles’ tent to plead with Achilles for the return of Hector’s body so that he could be buried. Achilles relented and promised a truce for the duration of the funeral.
Still seeking to gain entrance into Troy, Odysseus ordered a large wooden horse to be built. Its insides were to be hollow so that soldiers could hide within it. It took three days to build the horse and was built by the artist Epeius, a number of the Greek warriors, along with Odysseus, climbed inside. The rest of the Greek fleet sailed away, so as to deceive the Trojans. One man, Sinon, was left behind. When the Trojans came to marvel at the huge creation, Sinon pretended to be angry with the Greeks, stating that they had deserted him. He assured the Trojans that the wooden horse was safe and would bring luck to the Trojans. Only two people, Laocoon and Cassandra, spoke out against the horse, but they were ignored. The Trojans celebrated what they thought was their victory, and dragged the wooden horse into Troy. That night, after most of Troy was asleep or in a drunken stupor, Sinon let the Greek warriors out from the horse, and they slaughtered the Trojans. Neoptolemus first killed Priam’s son Polites in front of him as he sought sanctuary on the altar of Zeus. Priam tried throwing a spear at Neoptolemus but it harmlessly hit his shield. Neoptolemus then dragged Priam to the altar and killed him and Cassandra was pulled from the statue of Athena and raped by Ajax.

Achilles was killed by Paris with a poisoned arrow, with the help of Apollo, the arrow entered the only vulnerable part of Achilles’ body: his heel. Achilles was thought to have no known weaknesses but Polyxena, daughter of Priam, found out and told Paris. This is where we get the term “Achilles heel” In the arms of Odysseus, Achilles died a painful death. Protecting the remains of his friend, Ajax prevented Paris from desecrating Achilles body, and returned it back to the Achaean camp for a proper burial.

Paris was later killed by Philoctetes, Achilles son, using the enormous bow of Heracles. Helen made her way to Mount Ida where she begged Paris’s first wife, the nymph Oenone, to heal him. Still bitter that Paris had spurned her for his birthright in the city and then forgotten her for Helen, Oenone refused. Helen returned alone to Troy, where Paris died later the same day.

Helenus was captured by Odysseus and angry with his brother Deiphobus, who was slain by Odysseus, for taking Helen for himself after Paris’s death informed Odysseus that Sparta could win if they stole the Palladium (Pallas Athena), a wooden statue of Athena. With Diomedes help they supposedly later had Aeneas take it to the future site of Rome.

The Achaeans entered the city and killed the sleeping population. A great massacre followed. The Trojans desperately fought back, despite being disorganized and leaderless. With the fighting at its height, some donned fallen enemies’ attire and launched surprise counterattacks in the chaotic street fighting. Other defenders hurled down roof tiles and anything else heavy down on the rampaging attackers. The outlook was grim though, and eventually the remaining defenders were destroyed along with the whole city being burned and the spoils divided.

Antenor, who had given hospitality to Menelaus and Odysseus when they asked for the return of Helen, was spared, along with his family. Aeneas took his father on his back and fled the city. Cassandra was awarded to Agamemnon. Neoptolemus got Andromache, wife of Hector, and Odysseus was given Hecuba, Priam’s wife. The Achaeans threw Hector’s infant son Astyanax down from the walls of Troy, either out of cruelty and hate or to end the royal line, and the possibility of a son’s revenge. They also sacrificed the Trojan princess Polyxena because she has betrayed Achilles. Helen returned to Sparta with Menelaus, who forgave her after setting eyes on her beauty once again. It took Odysseus 10 years to return home and his story is best known in Homer’s Odyssey. But that story is for another time.

There might be some truth that the Trojan War happened but many scholars agree that the Trojan War is based on a historical core of a Greek expedition against the city of Troy, but few would argue that the Homeric poems faithfully represent the actual events of the war.

“Detail from The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy by DomenicoTiepolo (1773), inspired by Virgil’s Aeneid (Google images)”

Homer’s Illiad Tells and Trojan War Myth

The story of the Trojan War comes from Homer’s epic poem the Iliad. In it, the gods instigate a war between the Greeks and the Trojans that is further perpetuated by both kingdoms’ greed and bloodlust, as heroically portrayed. There are numerous characters in the story whose existence can be called into question.

The main characters that take part in the Trojan War in some way are Helen of Troy — formerly Helen of Sparta — Menelaus, Agamemnon, Achilles, Paris, Hector, and Odysseus. Odysseus, a soldier for the Greeks, is nearly certainly a creation of Homer. Reading of the Iliad and the Odyssey make this virtually inarguable. Helen is the wife of the Spartan King Menelaus, and she is abducted by Paris, the prince of Troy, to be his wife.

The main characters of the Trojan War myth in the Iliad. Source: Clipart.com, modified.

The existence of Paris and his brother, Hector, is questionable. No records exist that attest to them. Sparta did exist without a doubt. However, there is nothing earlier than the Iliad to suggest that Menelaus, his wife Helen, and his brother Agamemnon existed. There is no King Menelaus in known Spartan history of the time. As for Achilles, he is a hero of the Greeks in the story, but there is nothing more than tales of his skill and bravery to support his existence. All of these characters are widely regarded as a myth.

The Basis of Homer’s Tale

Homer probably wrote the Iliad sometime around the 8th or 9th century BCE, though some scholars place him around 1200 BCE. The Trojan War may have occurred between 1194 BCE-1184 BCE for the entire ten-year span. There is a distinct possibility that Homer was writing of a war that he learned through oral history or from some text that is not available to modern researchers. Given the hundreds of years that passed, it is understandable that Homer would have embellished and colored in the gaps.

Story of the Trojan War

The Trojan War allegedly started with Paris’ kidnapping of Helen. She was brought back to Troy from Sparta, at which time Menelaus sought to have her returned by force. An army of Greeks set out to destroy Troy, but first attacked the wrong city. Later, the king of that city showed them the way to Troy. Once there, the Greeks demanded the return of Helen. King Priam of Troy refused. Over the next nine years, the Greeks fought Troy while destroying neighboring towns in order to cut the city off. Eventually, Achilles killed Hector, the Trojan hero of the war. Paris then killed Achilles, the Greek hero of the war. After all of this tragedy played out, Odysseus came up with a brilliant plan to take Troy.

In the “Judgment of Paris,” Paris must judge three goddesses. He chooses Aphrodite because she will give him Helen, the most beautiful woman, and thus, the Trojan War will begin. Enrique Simonet, 1904.

The Famous Trojan Horse

The Greeks built a gigantic wooden horse and filled it with their own soldiers. They offered it to the Trojans as a sign of truce, though they never let on what was inside of the horse. They even had every other soldier and every Greek ship leave Troy to aid in the deception. Once the horse was inside the gates of Troy, the soldiers emerged from within the horse and took the city. They raped, pillaged and then burned Troy. The war itself and this destruction may be the only aspects of this myth that are true. There is no evidence of a Trojan horse. However, archaeologists have found what many believe is Troy. This does not prove that Homer’s story is true. However, it does show that it may have been based on a war that was already history by the time he wrote the Iliad.

For most ancient Greeks, indeed, the Trojan War was much more than a myth. It was an epoch-defining moment in their distant past. As the historical sources – Herodotus and Eratosthenes – show, it was generally assumed to have been a real event.

Finding Troy

In the late 19th century, Heinrich Schliemann traveled to Turkey in search of the fabled Troy. He had heard rumors that a possible site in Hisarlik, located on the west coast in Anatolia, could have been the site of the Trojan War. Excavations proved to be fruitful when he found an abundance of artifacts. Schliemann dated the finds to the Late Bronze Age, although they were even older than that. This put the artifacts at an earlier time than Homer’s account, however, other evidence, such as arrowheads and fires, points to the time period that Homer described.

Archaeological research of the site, which includes no less than nine cities, each built on top the ruins of the one that came before it, highlights similarities to Homer’s description of Troy and the neighboring area. This makes it the most logical candidate for Troy, and many scholars agreed that Troy was a real place in history.

Without any archaeological smoking gun, the Trojan War myth still endures. Inscriptions left by the Hittites, who called Troy Wilusa, tell of conflicts with Troy, but Anatolia was a tumultuous region for all groups. Chances are that if a large war did occur, it was not at the scale of Homer’s war. History can be incredibly difficult to decipher, because like so many ancient authors, Homer blended real historical facts and actual geographical locations with fiction. As such, the Trojan War still exists strictly in the realm of imagination.

Short Trojan War Summary

Image via commons.wikimedia.org

The Trojan War was a war between the Greeks (Achaeans) and the city of Troy. This all happened after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband, the king of Sparta Menelaus. The Trojan War is one of the most important events to have occurred in Greek mythology and has been told in many works of Greek literature, the most notable being Homers Illiad.

The Illiad goes through the period of four days and two nights in the tenth year of the decade-long siege of Troy the Odyssey tells the story of the trip home for Odysseus. Other parts of the war are told in several other epic poems.

In this article, we’re going to go over a Trojan War summary so that you understand the story of the most famous Greek war in mythology.

Trojan War Background

The beginning of the Trojan war began with a prophecy regarding the order of the Olympians and a divine love contest. Namely, many years before the war’s beginning, both Poseidon and Zeus had fallen in love with a sea-nymph with the name Thetis. Both wanted Thetis to be his bride however, they both backed off after they were told of the consequences that awaited them if they made such an action.

This consequence was that if the sea-nymph were to lay with Zeus or his brothers, that a son would be born who would be stronger than his father and possess a weapon that would be much more powerful than the trident or the thunderbolt. To avoid this from happening, Zeus made it so that Thetis would have to marry King Peleus.

After Thetis’ marriage was figured out, Zeus held a big feast to celebrate Peleus’ and Thetis’ marriage, where all of the gods were invited – except for the goddess of strife, Eris. The goddess was annoyed at the fact that she was turned away that before she left the gathering, she flung her gift amongst the crowd of guests this gift was called the Apple of Discord, which was a golden apple with the words, “for the fairest” inscribed on it.

Not too long after the apple was thrown, Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera began to fight about who should have the apple. Zeus was unable to decide by himself, so he sent the goddesses to Paris, the prince of Troy, to decide.

Paris was unable to make a decision, so the goddesses started to bribe him. First, Hera offered to grant him political power and a throne if he were to choose her then, Athena offered him wisdom and skills in battle finally, Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. Without batting an eyelash, Paris chooses Aphrodite.

However, Helen was already married to Menelaus, the king of Sparta. So, Paris, under the disguise of a diplomatic mission, went to Sparta to abduct Helen from her home so he could bring her back to Troy with him. Before Helen could look up to see Paris, she was shot with an arrow by Cupid, or Eros, and fell in love with Paris the moment she saw him.

There are other theories that Zeus started the Trojan War to kill off some of the population – especially of demigods. This is because Zeus had many relationships that resulted in the birth of many demigods, and he felt that the earth was overpopulated, and he wanted to depopulate it as much as possible. So, it’s said that he started the war to do this.

The Trojan War

The Trojan War can be said to have started shortly after the abduction of Helen. This is because Helen’s husband, Menelaus, got his brother, Agamemnon, to lead a voyage to find her and get her back. Agamemnon was able to get other Greek heroes, such as Odysseus, Ajax, Nestor, and Achilles, to join him on this adventure.

The Trojan War, which was punctuated by battles and skirmishes, lasted for ten years. It finally ended when the Greeks retreated from camp and left behind a large wooden horse outside the gates of Troy. Inside Troy, there were many debates on if they should bring the wooden horse in, including unheeded warnings by Cassandra, Priam’s daughter – ultimately, the horse was brought into the city.

The wooden horse was a plan made by Odysseus to end the war. The wooden horse was designed to be hollow in the middle so that soldiers could hide inside and then was wheeled in front of the city of Troy. After the Trojan Horse was left at the gates, the Greeks sailed away from Troy to the island of Tenedos, leaving behind one double agent named Sinon. He was able to convince the Trojans that the Greeks had retreated from the war and that the horse was a parting gift that would ultimately give the Trojans a fortune.

However, once nighttime fell, the horse opened up and out came the Greek soldiers. From the inside of the city, the Greeks were able to destroy the city of Troy and win the war.

The Aftermath of the Trojan War

The surviving Greek heroes learned the hard way that gods never forget and hardly forgive because even though they were victorious in the war, most of them were punished for their transgressions. In fact, only a handful of Greek soldiers made it back home, and that’s with several adventures and exploits along the way. Even fewer were welcomed back to their homes because they were killed by their loved ones or they were exiled into oblivion – there were some cases where both incidents happened.

Final Thoughts

The Trojan War was a huge and important war in Greek mythology. It was important because it’s the earliest recorded myth that we have that was written down, and it set the stage for the Odyssey and the Illiad.

Hopefully, from this summary of the Trojan War, you were able to learn enough about the war that you are able to understand why it happened and how it ended. This summary might not be the entire war, but it’s enough to help you get started on your journey of learning about Greek mythology.

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Watch the video: The Trojan War Finally Explained (January 2022).