Troy vs. The Iliad
Homer’s The Iliad is one of the greatest epic poems ever written. The poem shows the lives of the soldiers during the Trojan War, the battles, honor, and revenge (Schultz). The poem is loosely portrayed in the 2004 film, Troy, screenplay written by David Benioff. Between the two, several areas that overlap. Yet, poem and film have many differences from the actions of the characters to the way the film ended.
There were parts of the film that was correct. The Trojan War was between Trojans and Greece. The war started because Helen, wife of Menelaus, was taken by Paris. Helen was promised to Paris by Aphrodite. Once she was taken, Menelaus declared war and that where the nickname for Helen came from. She was known as the “Face that launched a thousand ships.” (Bell). This background was left out of the film Troy and is very helpful in understanding the myth.
In the poem, Gods and Goddess are mention often and play a huge role in the war. In the film, they are hardly mentioned. The myth talks about all the different Gods and Goddess acts at the beginning and their action that helped lead up the war. Zeus picked Paris to accept a deal from one of the Goddess. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all offer his stuff that would be hard for a man to pass up. Hera offered power, Athena offered wealth, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful woman. Paris chose Aphrodite. Yet, you do not get this important information in the film. In addition, the Gods and Goddess played God from the clouds and were involved in the war. One example, in the poem, Aphrodite saves Paris from Menelaus. The film does not show that. The film also changes some of the actions of the characters.
Some of the characters were portrayed differently in the film compared the epic poem. In the poem, Helen is a major character due to the fact she is the reason for the war. Yet in the film, she plays much a minor part that without background a person would never know that the war is about her (Roisman pg 128). Then Helen’s lover, Paris, was considered to be a nobody and has to be saved by the Aphrodite when Menelaus goes looking for him. In the film, Paris is not taken to be on a cloud by Aphrodite. There are parts of the film where Paris plays the role as a nobody but is loved by everyone. In the poem, he is not loved by everyone due to the fact he is the reason for the start of the war. His brother on the other hand, stars as a fearless leader in the film. Hector stands tall when fighting Achilles. He killed and his body is dragged around the chariot, but that is not what the poem states happened. In the Iliad, Hector runs from Achilles around the walls, killed, and his body is dragged. The film makes Hector look like a hero for his city and brother, but from the poem is a coward. During the battle between Achilles and Hector, Hector runs away from Achilles until killed according to Homer. Homer also states that Patroclus is Achilles’s friend and is sent to war by Achilles. In the film, Patroclus is the cousin to Achilles and steals his armor to go to war. This allows Achilles to not look like the horrible person that he is in the poem. This all leads up to the changes the end of the film.
The ending is very different then the poem. In both the poem and film, Troy falls to the Greeks but the aftermath is different. In the Iliad, Paris is killed, Achilles is not there because he has already been killed by Paris, Agamemnon returns home, Hector’s wife is enslaved and son killed, and Helen is returned to Menealus. The film paints a very different picture. Troy allows Paris to live and save his cousin Briseis, Helen and Hector’s wife and child escapes with Paris, Agamemnon dies during the war, Achilles is shot by Paris inside of the walls of Troy, and Menelaus was killed by Hector. This makes for a complete misunderstanding of the events of the war and how people’s lives turned out.
In general, both the film and poem are very entertaining pieces of work. The film only loosely describes what happen during the Trojan War. Society knows that the Trojan War could have been a myth all together but Homer has been credited as the author that covered the war. So with all the changes that Troy has changes the meaning and we start losing the story. If a person to watch the movie without knowing the storyline when they would not understand why the war truly started along with what happens to the characters. The audience starts losing history and reasoning. The audience does not understand that a Goddess along with a prince started the war by kidnapping a man’s wife and refuses to give her back. The audience has lost the greatness of the Iliad to only make a blockbuster with Brad Pitt.
Bell, Robert E. Modern American Poetry. N.p., 1996. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. .
Dué, Casey. "Learning Lessons From The Trojan War: Briseis And The Theme Of Force." College Literature 34.2 (2007): 229. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.
Mortal Women of the Trojan War. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. .
Roisman, Hanna M. "Helen And The Power Of Erotic Love: From Homeric Contemplation To Hollywood Fantasy." College Literature 35.4 (2008): 127. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. Schultz, Cathy. “History in the Movies.” 2004. 20 October 2013 http://stfrancis.edu/contect/historyinthemovies/.