Introduction: The Trojan War, which is dated from 1194-1184 B.C, is one of the most famous wars in the history of the world. The tactics used and the heroes involved in the Trojan War are probably the two biggest reasons why the war will always be remembered and studied. Achilles is at the center of the heroes that fought in the war, with the Trojan Horse being the controversial war tactic. However, the following few paragraphs will give some background information on why the war happened and what these two groups of people were fighting over for so long. Also, the beginning will give some background on the central characters of the Trojan War.
Geography: The geography of the Greek world was very important in the Trojan War. The picture below shows where the Greek mainland was (all the purple labels) and then where Troy (red label) was across the Aegean Sea. The Greeks, led by King Agamemnon and King Menelaos, had to travel all the way across the Aegean Sea before they could reach the shores of Troy. It wasn’t as if they could march an army a few miles and be at the gates of Troy. The journey would most likely take them a few days or weeks to reach Troy, which allowed the Trojans to prepare for their coming. Also, when the Greeks reached the beaches of Troy, they were constrained to the beach. The layout of Troy didn’t allow the Greeks to get very far inland, so they were forced to set up on the beach. This was a significant advantage to the Trojans because they had the Greeks up against the ocean with nowhere to go.
Homer was the major figure of ancient Greek literature and the author of the earliest and finest epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Modern scholars hold conflicting theories on the authorship of these poems, but the ancient Greeks believed that a blind poet named Homer had composed them. Tradition has it that he lived in the 12th century BC, around the time of the Trojan War, in an Ionic settlement, either Chios or Smyrna, where he made his living as a court singer and storyteller. Modern archaeological research has uncovered artifacts similar to those described in the poems, providing evidence that Homer wrote at a later date. Because the poems display a considerable knowledge of Eastern, or Ionian, Greece and are written in the dialect of that region, most scholars now suppose that Homer was Ionian of the 8th or 9th century BC. Homer writes nothing of himself in his poems, but similes in the Iliad and the Odyssey frequently make reference to the humble lives of farmers and artisans, so it is sometimes conjectured that Homer was of this class.
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. "The Iliad" relates a part of the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey describes the journey home of Odysseus, one of the Achaean leaders. Other parts of the war were told in a cycle of epic poems. which has only survived in fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets like Virgil and Ovid.
A. Central Characters
1. Agamemnon- King Agamemnon is the King of Mycenae, the most powerful king on the Greek mainland. He is a power hungry man that wants to conquer all of Greece, along with the surrounding areas. Agamemnon is King Menelaus’ brother. Also, it is key to know that Agamemnon and Achilles don’t see eye to eye, and are pretty much rivals to each other. 2. Menelaus- King Menelaus is the King of Sparta, and brother of Agamemnon. He’s also a very powerful king, but not as powerful as Agamemnon. Menelaus is really angry at the Trojans because Paris (a Trojan prince) steals his wife Helen from him. 3. Helen- Helen is married to Menelaus, which makes her Queen of Sparta. However, she leaves Sparta with Paris and goes back to Troy to be with him. Helen leaving with Paris is the most fundamental reason why the Trojan War began. Also, Helen is said to be the most beautiful women in the world, which is why she gets the nickname: “The face that launched 1000 ships.” 4. Paris- Paris is the youngest prince of Troy, and is the one who takes Helen back with him to Troy. Paris’ love/lust for Helen is the reason for the Trojan War. Paris is brother to the eldest prince of Troy, Hector. Paris is also seen as the cowardly prince; less brave than Hector. 5. Prium- King Prium is the King of Troy. He is a very virtuous and noble king. He favors Hector as a son because he is a brave warrior, but he loves his son Paris as well (even after his stupidity) 6. Hector- Hector is the oldest son of Prium, and he is the best warrior in all of Troy. He’s a family centered man, and is seen as very virtuous and noble. He’s next in line to be King of Troy. Hector is the one who accidentally kills Achilles’ friend Patroclus because he thinks it’s Achilles. 7. Patroclus- Patroclus is Achilles’ closest friend (portrayed as his cousin in the film “Troy”). He is eventually killed by Hector when he dresses up as Achilles and goes into battle. His death angers Achilles’ and makes Achilles go into a rage to get revenge. 8. Nestor- Nestor is a very wise council to Agamemnon and Menelaus. 9. Achilles- Achilles is the main hero in the Trojan War. He was a handsome and nearly unstoppable warrior. Son of Peleus (a great Greek warrior and hero) and Thetis (a sea goddess) Achilles became a demi-god. He was dipped in the River Styx by his mother, attempting to make him immortal. However, she held him at his heel, making his Achilles heel the only vulnerable part of his body. He strives for honor and glory, stopping at no cost to achieve “arête,” Greek for “excellence.”
B. Reason for trojan war
Helen, married to King Menelaus of Sparta,
left Sparta with Paris to live a life in Troy. Paris
and Helen had a romantic relationship when
Paris was in Sparta, and they wanted to be together
forever. However, King Menelaus didn’t want to
give up the most beautiful women in the world, who happened to be his wife! King Menelaus was extremely angry, so he went to his brother Agamemnon and declared that he come to war with him against the Trojans. Agamemnon agreed with Menelaus, mainly because he wanted to conquer Troy for himself. So the Greeks launched a thousand ships to Troy, an enormous fleet full of soldiers. Helen went down in history on that day because she was said to be the
C. Women In Trojan War
In my research, I looked at the role of a woman in the Trojan War. Some may want to say that a woman had no right in the war that war is for men. I however, disagree with that sentence. As previously stated the start of the war was because of a woman. Paris stole Helen from Menelaus automatically putting the Troy and Sparta at war. Readers know about the war and its issues by the literature of that time. Homer has been accredited as the main author of the Trojan War.
Most of Homers audience members were men. This brings forth the question why did Homer invoke the anguish of women as part of his war story? It has been realized that if Homer wanted his story to simply glorify war then he would have ended his epic with the fall of Troy and the triumph of the Achaeans. Because he does not do so suggests that he meant his epic to describe all of the effects of Achilles’ wrath, both victory and defeat; and it is in expressing the effects of defeat that women play a crucial role. If women could not speak or have a role in the play the audience members could have still held their attention. In a fundamental sense, Greek religion disproves victory without defeat. Every victor must be prepared for eventually defeat. The reader could ask is this why Aeschylus’ Persians which describe the Greek victory at Salamis, is not set in the victorious city of Athens? Instead it was set in the palace of the defeated king Xerxes and is seen through the eyes of the king’s mother no less. In the Iliad woman take care of things that fall into their standard duties but more than that they also provide a balance and moral tone that would otherwise be omitted. How this is done it such a brutal and gruesome time period? It is done by the woman reminding the men about the cost of war and where the fighting will lead them. I speculate that Homer was wise to know someday women would read his work. He probably wrote the epic story the way he did so that he could expand his audience and spread his works. Because ancient writers did not record the views and opinions of woman of the time, we may never fully know what they thought of the woman that led the betrayal in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The epics at first look show a heroic world in which women did not have much of a place is and sadly this did not change until the Hellenistic period. If the period could be relived do you think the men would repeat history? I would like to hope not but that is one question that may never be answered.
D. Trojan Horse
In my research of the Trojan War, I took a more in depth look at how the war played out and the use of the Trojan Horse in the efforts to win the war that was waged strongly off the basis of a woman. Although the Trojan Horse was not directly related to a woman of the time, I found that without the Trojan Horse, the outcome of the Trojan War would have been far different. The war started after the kidnapping of Helen of Sparta, but it abruptly ended with the use of the Trojan Horse. Therefore, I decided to look into what the Trojan Horse was, and how it affected the outcome of the war.
The Trojan Horse was a huge wooden horse that was constructed at a standstill of the war. The interior of the horse was hollow, allowing for room inside of the horse for troops. The horse was designed by a carpenter and pugilist named Epeius. So why was the horse built? The Trojan Horse was built because the city of Troy was impenetrable. It was impossible for the Greeks to gain access to the city, which would allow for a potential victory in the war. Therefore, the Greeks built the Trojan Horse as a “gift” for the Trojans. When the horse was built, the Greeks retreated and left. The army sailed to a nearby island of Tenedos. Once they had left for the nearby island, one soldier, Sinon, stayed and convinced the Trojans that the horse was a gift to the Goddess Athena. This offering was seen as a sign of surrender and believed to be an honest gift from the Greeks to the Trojans. However, a few Trojans were skeptical and did not want to accept the gift of the Trojan Horse. Among these Trojans were Laocoon and Cassandra. Even though there was some skepticism, the Trojans accepted the horse and brought it into the city. At this point, the use of the Trojan Horse took a major turn in the result of the war. Once on the inside of the city gates, the horse remained still until the dead of night. Once nightfall had come, the horse which was believed to be solely a gift to Athena opened up and what was believed to be only one soldier left behind actually was a group of soldiers who had been hiding out in the horse. The rest of the army returned from the nearby island, and the gates to the city of Troy were opened by the soldiers inside the horse allowing the entire Greek army into the city. The night once again enraged in battle, and after much fight, the Greeks proved triumphant in the long war. The battle that had a lot to do with the kidnapping of a woman, Helen, ended in the victory of the Greeks and the returning of Helen. Helen was not however the only woman affected by this battle. After the massacre of Troy, the women were distributed among the Greek soldiers and many were brought back to Greece as slaves. This was truly a war that was based around women, but in the end would not have ended in favor of the Greeks without the implementation of the Trojan Horse that allowed for the only means of reaching the city of Troy and ending the long and drawn out Trojan War.
The End of the Trojan War
The ten-year war, which began when the Greeks set sail to get back Helen, had remained at a stalemate, but this stalemate was soon to change. Odyesseus came up with the plan which would lead ultimately to the defeat of the Trojans. This plan made it look as if the Greeks were giving up as their ships went away, but they were actually just going into hiding. But before the Greeks “set sail” they left the Trojans a gift of a giant wooden horse, which appeared to be a peace offering from the Greeks. After the Trojans wheeled the giant wooden horse into the city they began to celebrate as they thought they were the victors of the war. When nightfall fell that night the Greeks that were hiding in the wooden horse slipped out of a hidden door killing any Trojans they came across and set the city on fire. These actions resulted in the Trojans defeat quickly and the victory was ultimately the Greeks after the ten year long war.
Heroes of the Trojan War
Achilles was by far one of the greatest of the Greek warriors during the war, killing many Trojans throughout the war. During the war though Agamemnon stole Achilles concubine from him, which resulted in Achilles to stop fighting and step away from the war. Achilles only returned when Partoclus was killed by Hector. When Achilles was young he was known to be hubris which means arrogance, but when the war ended he became known as being arête which means excellence. He earned this by surrendering the body of Hector to the Trojan king Priam.
Hector was the Trojan Prince and the oldest son of King Priam. He proved to be one of the greater Trojan warriors during the war. At one point during the war Hector tried convincing his brother Paris to meet his adversary Menelaus for a one-on-one duel to settle the war. But when the Greek king was challenged by Paris he abandoned the combat. Hector was the one who killed Patroclus which proved to be fatal to him as Achilles returned to the war and killed him. The killing of Hector resulted in a 11 day truce between both sides to mourn one of the Trojan greats.
Diomedes was a hero of Argos and was a great Greek warrior along with Achilles. Diomedes not only killed many Trojans but wounded two gods Aphrodite and Ares. Aphrodite was wounded by Diomedes trying to protect her son Aineias, while havin her son in her arms Diomedes pulled out his sword and slashed her arm. This became known as the first time a mortal had wounded one of the gods.
Odysseus was the King of Ithaca which he became known for being clever. He used this for noble purposes, but for himself also. One example of his cleverness was when he and Diomedes captured Dolon a spy for the Trojans. They forced him to tell them the layout of the Trojan camp. Another great thing Odysseus did was help design the plan that lead to the Greeks defeating the Trojans.
Ajax of Salamis helped capture troy with Hercules. Ajax was a great figure on a battlefield as he was known to be the tallest of all the Greeks. He once fought a great one-on-one battle with hector which resulted in a draw. The draw allowed both to honor one another as Ajax gave Hector his belt and Hector gave Ajax a Trojan sword. Ajax later on committed suicide because of his embarrassment for slaughtering the Greek livestock, because he was angered by not receiving Achilles armor when he passed away.
Teucer was the Son of Telamen and Hesione was his mother. He was considered one of the best archers for the Greeks, along with Philoctetes who was known to be the best, Teucer half brother was Ajax who he often fought behind his shield during battles.
Aeneas was one of the bravest Trojan warriors, but he was saved by his mother Aphrodite. He was later healed of his wounds by Aramis and Leto. Aeneas was able to lead Trojans who survived to Italy which became their new home after the war.
The Gods during the war were told by Zeus not to get involved with the war, but some chose sides still. Aphrodite, Artemis and her brother Apollo sided with the Trojans. As the Trojans had gots to take there side so did the Greeks. Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Hermes, and Hephaestus sided with the Greeks. Ares was the only was to have actually fought on both sides. Zeus, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia stayed neutral throughout the entire war.
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