Achilles and His Role in the Trojan War
Considered as a hero of all time, Achilles is one of the great warriors of Greek mythology who remains to be recollected because of his significant role in the Trojan War. Born to Peleus, his father and the mortal king of the Myrmidons and The Thetis, his mother a Nereid, Achilles grew to become a loyal, courageous and extraordinary strong individual who would later become so recognized and feared by both his friends and foes alike (Schein, 1984). As such, he is remembered not only because of his immortality status as a warrior but also as one of the few men on the battled filed who was remarkably skilled and fearless. In this regard, Achilles’ heroism status can be drawn from not only his distinguished great strength as a prominent warrior but also from his outstanding achievements (noble qualities), fearlessness in times of adversity and his honorable attitude to those that he loved and cared for.
Having regard to that, the story of Achilles and him as a hero dates back to his early life, when he was still a baby, after his mother Thetis, out of extraordinary concern about his mortality, decided to have him converted immortal. In order to make this a success Achilles mother had him dunked into River Styx, a water body whose waters were said to grant someone the invulnerability of the gods (Taplin, 1980). However despite the fact that Achilles got dipped into the waters not all parts of his body acquired this immortality, strength and resilience statuses that they were supposed to. This is because when he was being dipped into the water his mother tightly held him by the heel, so tightly in such a manner that this is the only part of the body which did not attain the desired trait. And this would later become the major weakness that the warrior had as lack of not having the whole body dipped, made his heel vulnerable- a major weakness that his mother had no idea about.
But then, because of how dedicated she was to have her son significantly protected from death and harm, Thetis asked the divine blacksmith of the time to make a shield and sword for Achilles in the quest of having her son’s life protected. To this end, the armor that the divine blacksmith made did not make Achilles immortal but it is the waters that did. Nonetheless, the produced armor made him distinctive enough to be identified by both his colleagues and enemies alike. With all this, Achilles grew to become a heroic warrior whose role as an eminent warrior in the Trojan War cannot be overemphasized.
Firstly, Achilles was a hero because of his fearlessness in times of adversity. It is a clear fact that, after the death of Patroclus – his closet friend and colleague in the Greek forces – in the battle at the hands of Troy’s best warrior and older brother to Troy’s prince Paris, Hector for being dressed up as Achilles in his armor; Achilles violent and uncontrollable anger turned him into a vengeful being who became so ready to honor Patroclus by taking it head-on with his killer, Hector. In a quest to honor his friend and supporter, Achilles courageously ambushed Hector and had him killed. As such, the heroic aspect of Achilles can be drawn from the fact that he (Achilles) knew that in those early times, a real hero was one who would take revenge on the death of his friend by sacrificing his own life to ensure that his friend/ loved ones got some form of “justice.” The best way to do this was by putting one’s life on the line and have the killers of his loved ones subjected to the same form of suffering and have them face the same fate as that which his loved ones faced and this was through death.
Equally, Achilles was a hero because of his honorable attitude to those that he loved and cared for. From Homer’s Iliad, it is clear that during the battle of Troy, Achilles had his own lover; a beautiful woman who he also considered his own prize identified by the name Briseis. In that way, his heroism virtue can be drawn from the kind of reaction that he had after Agamemnon, his master and adversary, demanded to have Briseis taken back alongside his own salve girl Chryses to Chryses father, priest of Apollo after a plague had befallen the Greeks (Edwards, 1987). Angered and felt dishonored by the actions of his boss, Achilles decided to withdraw from the battle despite being aware that he played a key role in the Greek force. Having regard to this, indeed Achilles is a hero by the fact that he stood his ground and decide to choose the woman he loved over the victory of the Trojan War. Although this did not change Agamemnon’s actions, Achilles decided to skip duty simply because the love of his life and own prize had been taken off him. Hence, having him withdraw from the force was a heroic move considering that it portrayed his unique attitude to those that he loved and cared for.
In addition to that, Achilles was a hero because of his outstanding achievements (noble qualities). In the whole Greek mythology, there was no superior and courageous warrior like Achilles. Having been made less vulnerable to death, Achilles was also one selfless warrior who took it to the war to settle some scores with the Trojans. Actively taking part in the force, Achilles would later come to be identified as one of the key warriors in the Greek forces and it was only through his help that the Greek forces would emerge victorious in the Trojan War. With this, Achilles was not only a war motivator of the Greek forces but also a man with astounding capability who won a lot of battles that his side faced. In this regard, he was a heroic figure who played a fundamental role in the Trojan War taking into consideration of the fact that at the heart of most victories was Achilles the Greek warrior.
Having said that, not everyone agrees with the fact that Achilles was a hero. Opponents of the above premise contend that Achilles was not a hero simply because he made very mistakes that should not be given more precisely by a man who was in the front. One of the mistakes is being in love with a Trojan woman when he and others were taking on the Trojans. To this end, despite the fact that the above reason is valid it is right and just to assert that the opponents overlook Achilles emotion as being that of a typical human being. Basically, Achilles was just like any typical human being, he had the right to fall in love with any other person; Achilles being in love with a Trojan woman is itself a liberal move which any soldier in a combat role can assume. And by the fact that the woman did not leak any secrets about the Greek Forces to the Trojans itself makes sufficient my argument.
To conclude Achilles was a Greek soldier and hero who played a vitally important role during the Trojan War. Despite the fact that his invulnerability wouldn’t sustain him to the end of the war, Achilles was a great hero who stands to be recollected as a powerful warrior for the Greeks, an immortal warrior with great skills, as well as a man who loved and took care of his associates. It is with all this that he stands to be counted as one of the great men in Greek Mythology.
The Troyan War in Homer’s Illiad
The Illiad is a story detailing the consequences of the competition between the three goddesses Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera on who was the most beautiful and most fairest of all the Gods. They decide to have Paris, prince of Troy, decide who was the most beautiful. They decide to bribe him with gifts of swords or of golds. Aphrodite approaches Paris with a deal that she will give him Helen, the most beautiful girl on earth. Paris readily agrees and soon manages to take away Helen from Menelaus of Sparta, brother of King Amagemnon. Menelaus then demands his wife back from Paris, but Paris refuses to return Helen. Hearing this, Menelaus seeks aid from his brother, King Amagemnon. Together they wage war against Troy.
King Agamemnon Sitting in His Throne
The story of The Illiad chronologically began ten years into Greek’s siege on Troy led by the Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. The Greeks are currently heavily debating on the issue of whether they should release Chryseis, a captive priestess from Troy, back to her father, Chryses, a priest of Apollo who pleads to him to return his daughter. As Agamemnon continues to deny Chryses’ pleads, Agamemnon then proceeds to make threats upon the girl to her father, Apollo catches wind of this, feeling insulted and obligated to protect his followeres, plagues Amagemnon’s kingdom with a pestilence.
Achilles, Greek’s Greatest Warrior-Hero
After so many of his citizens die, Amagemnon seeks help from the prophet Calchas to determine the cause of the pestilence. Calchas reveals that the cause of the pestilence is Chryseis, hearing this, Amagemnon reluctantly givers her up, but as he was returnin her, Amagemnon demands for Briseis, Achilles’ own war-prize concubine and lover. Achilles, feeling slighted and dishonored, withdraws himself and his warriors from the Trojan war to spite Amagemnon.
Achilles takes it a step further and begs his mother Thesis, A nymph and Goddess of water, to plead to Zeus and help Achilles in his resentment for King Amagemnon. Zeus decides to honor this request by sending a dream to Amagemnon promising him with astonishing victory over the Trojans. Amagemnon then gathers all the Greek leaders of the council to relay the contents of his dream. He then goes on to test the soldiers by saying that they are free to go home. As soon as he says this, the soldiers run for the ships to prepare voyage for home. All that was left was Odysseus, Odysseus then goes to the soldiers and convinces them to stay and fight.
Menelaus and Paris with Aphrodite’s Intervention
Then both the Greek and the Trojan warriors march out into the battlefield to fight it out. As this happens, Paris, the Trojan prince proposes a solution. He relays that the war be paused and that he would meet Menelaus in the middle of the battlefield over single combat. Menelaus, who harbors hate for Paris as Paris had previously stolen his wife from him, accepts the duel.
Paris and Menelaus meet in single combat over the most beautiful maiden on Earth, the cause of the ten year Trojan war, Helen. Aphrodite, who was the one who promised Paris to give him Helen, then intervenes in the fight in order to help Paris win. Despite Aphrodite’s intervention, Melenaus still ends up being the victor.
The goddess Athena, who is in competition with Aphrodite, and is someone in favors of greeks, soon manipulates Trojan bowman, Pandaros. She then controlled this bowman to cause a painful, but not fatal wound to Melenaus, thus breaking the truce and reinvigorating the war between the Greeks and the Trojans again.
Diomedes, a Greek hero manages to drive away the Trojan forces before him but, in his arrogance, blood-lust, and Athena’s manipulations, manages to strike and injure the goddess Aphrodite. The Trojan hero Hector, the son of King Priam, King of Troy, challenges the Greek warrior-hero Ajax, King of Salamis and descendant of Zeus, to single combat, and is almost overcome in battle. But is able to fend for himself, but is unsuccessful in killing Hector. Both parties from the Greek camps and the Trojan camps agree to a day of rest to grieve for the soldiers who had fallen in battle. During this period of griefing, the Acheans build a wall around their camps and ships. Throughout all of this, Up high in Mount Olympus, the gods and goddesses continue to argue amongst themselves over how they can continue and manipulate the war, despite Zeus’, King of the gods, orders not to meddle and interfere with the war.
Meanwhile, Achilles is still in isolation and refuses to give in to the requests for help from Agamemnon, Odysseus, Ajax, Phoenix and Nestor, offered honours and riches and even as going as far as to return Briseis back to him but only to be disappointed as their offers were rejected.
Diomedes and Odysseus, unable to rest and sleep the night. Decides then to sneaks into the Trojan camps and attacks it from the inside, killing a lot of Trojan soldiers and ruining a bunch of supplies before managing to escape. Amagemnon then orders the attack on the Trojans early in the morning to continue the momentum of Diomedes and Odysseus’ attack last night. Amagemnon’s forces manages to push the Trojan’s back all the way to their camps but Zeus decides to intervene and manages to damage Amagemnon’s forces, turning the tides of the battle again. Zeus manages to push back and kill many soldiers who fought valiantly but ultimately dying. When Zeus looks away from the battlefield for a moment, Poseidon helps the Achaeans by inspiring them to kill and injure the Trojans. Hera then concocts a plan to take Zeus away from the battlefield. She seduces him into bed and with the help of Hypnos, personification of sleep, puts him into sleep. And now with Poseidon’s aid, the Achaeans gain back momentum and manages to drive away the Trojans. However, time is limited as Zeus soon rises from his slumber and is ready to take control of the battlefield again. He then sends Apollo, his son and god of light, to strike fear into the hearts and wills of the Achaeans with Zeus’ shield as the symbol of Zeus’ wrath.
Apollo, God of Light
Achilles, who is conflicted in his allegiances, orders his friend, Patroclus to dress in Achilles’ armor and then lead Achilles’ warriors in repelling the Trojans in his stead. Drunk and intoxicated by his own success to repell the forces of Troy, Patroclus soon forgets Achilles’ orders and continues to chase down the fleeing Trojans to the walls of Troy and almost managed to take control of the city if Apollo, god of light, had not interfered. In the midst of the battle, Hector soon finds Patroclus who is still in disguise as Achilles and challenges him to a fight. Once again Apollo interferes and with Apollo’s help, Hector manages to kill him. Menelaus and the other Greek warriors manages to recover Patroclus’ corpse before Hector can desecrate it and cause more damage to the corpse.
Over in despair at the loss of his close friend, Achilles then proceeds to put away his misgivings with Amagemnon and successfully rejoin the battle and manage to drive away all the Trojans before him in his fury. And as the war reaches it’s climax with even the gods joining in battle, Achilles clad in the new armor his mother requested made specially for him by Hephaestus, god of forges. Despite previously boasting, Hector loses his courage and turns tail as soon as he sees sight of Achilles. After Achilles chases him around the city for three times, Athena manages to trick Hector to stop and allow Achilles to catch up, Achilles then manages to finally kill him. Achilles then continue to desecrate and disfigure Hector’s corpse for several days.
Climax of the Trojan War
The gods are displeased at how Achilles continues to desecrate and dishonor the corpse of Hector, now with Achilles dragging it all over the Greek camp so that every soldier can see the corpse and proof of his conquests. They come to a decision, they relay that King Priam, Hector’s father, to be allowed to have the chance to negotiate with Achilles for the corpse of his son Hector. The gods manage to convince both parties to reconcile with a ransom, with Thetis, Achilles’ mother, convincing Achilles to accept the ransom. They then proceed to grieve both of their respective losses during truce that lasted for twelve days. And so marks the end of the Illiad.
Trojan War: Was It Just a Myth?
Did the Trojan War Really Happen?
The Trojan War is a Greek mythological story about a war between the Greeks and the inhabitants of the city of Troy. The main source for the understanding of the Trojan War is Homer’s Iliad. The Iliad is an epic poem, and it’s setting begins nine years after the Trojan War was initiated. Although the Iliad mainly deals with the conflicts between King Agamemnon and the protagonist warrior Achilles, the epic provides many geographical references and it displays the relationships between Mycenae and Troy. This is important because with this information, we can compare it to archaeological evidence to prove that the Trojan War really did happen. However, the Iliad is not the only source to compare the archaeological evidence to. Other primary sources include Homer’s Odyssey, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, Strabo’s Geography, Herodotus’s Histories, The Epitome of Apollodorus, and Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War.
Summary of the Trojan War
The Trojan War was believed to have taken place during the late Bronze Age, which was approximately 1200 B.C. The Greek side of the Trojan War was led by King Agamemnon of Mycenae. Special warriors, who were great fighters and presented the greatest courage in the war, followed his command. These warriors include Achilles, Odysseus, Ajax, and Diomedes. The Greeks were also supported by several Greek Olympian gods. These gods include Athena, Hermes, and Hera. On the opposing side, Priam led the Trojans. The Trojan War was basically a lengthened siege of the city of Troy. However, the Trojans were able to survive for ten years. This was true because of the Trojans fortifications of the city. In Greek mythology, it is said that Poseidon and Apollo built the walls of Troy. Another reason that the war was elongated could be explained by Achilles’s absence. In the Iliad, he abandoned the Mycenaeans for an extended period of time. However, Achilles returned and the Greeks won the war after the famous Trojan Horse. The idea was to get a group of soldier into Troy by leaving them in a colossal horse and offering the horse to the Trojans. They were then able to destroy Troy from the inside (Cartwright, Trojan War, para 2-20).
Mycenae is an archaeological site located in Greece that is referenced in several ancient sources. Strabo’s Geography provides several geographical references for the Mycenaean civilization. Strabo provides the geographical relationship between Argos, Temenium, and Mycenae. Temenium is the area in which Temenus was buried, and Argos is the location that the Argives inhabited. Strabo explains that the city Prasiae and Temenium belong to the Argives. He then writes that Temenium is situated twenty-six stadia from Argos and ten stadia from Mycenae (Strabo, Geography Book VIII Chapter 6). Stade is an ancient Greek unit of length. It is believed that one stade is equal to 600 feet. However, different countries had different determinations of the length of a foot, so it is difficult to modernize the actual distances of Mycenae from the other two locations, but it still indicates that the two may still be within a couple of miles near each other.
Strabo also describes the relationship between the Argives and Mycenae. He says how the Argives destroyed Mycenae so thoroughly that there is not even a trace of a city of Mycenae today. Since Argos was in control of Mycenae, Strabo argues that it would be logical to assume that the same occurred to the other countries or regions occupied or owned by the Argives (Strabo, Geography Book VIII Chapter 6). One architectural reference given by Strabo also furthers the explanation of the relationship between Mycenae and the Argives. He says that the Heraeum, a temple located in a close proximity to the city of Mycenae, was a temple common to both Argos and Mycenae. In this temple were images made by Polycleitus (Strabo, Geography Book VIII Chapter 6).
Strabo points out some of the environmental aspects of some areas. He describes Lake Lernê, which is the location where the story of the Hydra takes place. Strabo says that Lake Lernê lies in Argeia and Mycenaean territory. Cleansings take place in Lake Lernê. Strabo explained that it the country has plenty of water and that the city is located on a waterless district, but it contains an abundance of wells (Strabo, Geography Book VIII Chapter 6).
Pausanias had several agreements with Strabo in his Description of Greece. Pausanias gives some locational evidence saying that the ruins of Mycenae after its destruction is located on the left of the road to Argos. This shows that Argos and Mycenae are relatively close to each other, which agrees with Strabo and his distances between the two cities (Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2 Section 15.4). Pausanias then gives some historical background on Mycenae. The founder of Mycenae was Perseus. However, there is a legend that says Phoroneus was the first inhabitant of Mycenae and Argus, the grandson of Phoroneus, gave name to the land (Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2 Section 15.5-15.6).
Pausanias also says that the Argives laid waste to Mycenae. (Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2 Section 15.4). He says that jealous caused the Argives to destroy Mycenae. For the time during the Persian invasion, the Argives did not attack, but the Mycenaeans sent eighty men to attack Thermopylae. Pausanias gives some architectural references that lie in the ruins of Mycenae. Parts of the city wall were still intact, including the Lion Gate. It is said that Cyclopes created this structure. Cyclopes constructed the wall for Proetus at Tiryns (Pausanias Description of Greece, Book 2 Section 16.5). In these ruins lays a fountain called Persea. Also, there are the underground chambers of Atreus and his children. Treasures were contained inside of these chambers. There is also the grave of Atreus, and the graves of such Agamemnon from Troy, Cassandra, and Eurymedon the charioteer (Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2 Section 16.6-16.7).
The next primary source that includes references about Mycenae is Homer’s Iliad. The king of Mycenae is Agamemnon. Agamemnon is also the leader of the Achaean army. After they sacked of Thebe, a strong city of Eetion, Chryseis was taken and given to Agamemnon as a reward. This shows that the king has tremendous power, especially if their kingdoms are more powerful than others. Agamemnon also flaunts his power throughout his argument with Achilles. He sends trusty messengers, Talthybius and Eurybates to take Achilles’s prize, Briseis, after Achilles disagreed with Agamemnon’s war tactics (Homer, The Iliad, Book I). Another example of his power is shown when he sent Bellerophon to Lycia with letters after Proetus was encouraged to kill Bellerophon (Homer, The Iliad, Book VI). However, Agamemnon is not omnipotent. He is still controlled by the gods. For example, Jove, the king of the gods, sent him a dream to manipulate his next move against Troy (Homer, The Iliad, Book II).
King Agamemnon also seems to have a great influence on people. For example, he persuaded Menelaus to not spare the life of Adrestus after he offered Menelaus a ransom (Homer, The Iliad, Book VI). However, Agamemnon often relies on other people in order to win the war. For example, he desperately needed Achilles, since they were extremely struggling to win the war. He even suggested to have gifts sent to Achilles so he could gain his loyalty back (Homer, The Iliad, Book IX).
There are also several references to architectural structures and description of weapons throughout the Iliad. Achilles offered a prize of iron for archery to the Acheans. These included ten double-edged axes and ten with single axes (Homer, The Iliad, Book XXIII). Bronze is also mentioned as material for weaponry. Hector’s helmet was made of bronze and Alexandrus, husband of Helen, held a sword made of bronze. Alexandrus was also armed with two spears with bronze on them (Homer, The Iliad, Book III). Bronze is also used for defensive purposes. Achilles was going to reward Eumelus with the prize of a bronze breastplate with a rim of tin that he took from Asteropaeus (Homer, The Iliad, Book XXIII). Another reference to weapons occurs when the epic discussed Pandarus’s weapons. It stated that his bow was made from the horns of a wild ibex, which he had just killed (Homer, The Iliad, Book IV).
The Iliad features a catalogue of ships that were to be sent to various places. The ships controlled by those in Mycenae that are from certain settlements. These settlements include Mycenae, rich Corinth and Cleonae, Orneae, Araethyrea, and Licyon, where Adrastus reigned of old, Hyperesia, high Gonoessa, and Pellene, Aegium and all the coast-land round about Helice. King Agamemnon sent one hundred ships to these various settlements (Homer, The Iliad, Book II).
Troy was a city located in northwest Anatolia, which is now known as Turkey. It is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, and it is well known for the war named after it. Much modern day knowledge about Troy was extrapolated from Homer’s The Iliad. Other sources such as Homer’s Odyssey, Herodotus’ Histories, and The Epitome of Apollodorus also include references of Troy.
Several geographical references, architectural references, and references to the power of kings, and description of weapons are included in The Iliad. The city of Troy is constantly under attack throughout the book, since the book starts nine years into the war. One of the first mentions of Troy in the Iliad comes when the gods sent a dream to king Agamemnon that encouraged him to take Troy (Homer, The Iliad, Book II). At this point, Troy is mainly a battleground. For example, the whole catalogue of ships that was provided in the beginning of the epic all sailed to Troy (Homer, The Iliad, Book II). Herodotus provides another example of this. In his book Histories, Herodotus talks about how the Persians kept the region of Europe and the Greeks avoided and distinct. Also, he mentions the attack on Troy and that Troy was the ancient enmity towards the Greeks. (Herodotus, Histories, Book I).
Priam, youngest son of Laomedon and husband of Hecuba, was the king of Troy during the Trojan War. Priam was also the father of many of his warriors. Priam does however seem like he genuinely loves and takes care of his people. Hector, one of Priam’s sons, was armed with a spear of eleven cubits long on each hand, each with a bronze point, and they were fastened to the shaft of the spear by a ring of gold (Homer, The Iliad, Book VI). King Priam lived like a king. Priam enjoyed an elegant palace, built with gargantuan colonnades of hewn stones. In the palace were fifty bedchambers, in which each of his sons slept (Homer, The Iliad, Book VI). This is one of the architectural references about Troy made in the Iliad.
There were also many other references to weapons from Troy in the Iliad. Patroclus, king of Opus, was well armed with a silver-studded sword of bronze and a mighty shield (Homer, The Iliad, Book XVI). In battle, the son of Atreus hurled his spear and hit Deicoon, son of Pergasus. The spear of king Agamemnon struck his shield and went through it. The spear drove through his belt into the lower part of his belly, and he fell heavily to the ground. This could potentially show that the defensive weapons could sometimes be weak. Or it could imply that the spear of king Agamemnon is especially strong (Homer, The Iliad, Book V).
Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War often speaks of times after and before the Trojan War, which highlights its effects. “Before the Trojan war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name…” (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War). However, Thucydides also speaks about the war directly. He explains that the Trojans were able to survive for ten years because of the dispersion of the Mycenaeans and that they did not supply themselves enough (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War).
Archaeological Excavations at Troy and Mycenae by Korffman and Schliemann
Barbu’s video, “The Truth of Troy” provided knowledge of the archaeological excavations at Troy and Mycenae. Heinrich Schliemann was one of the first people who searched for geographical evidence to prove that Troy actually existed. Schliemann came to the conclusion that Troy was located in the northwest corner of modern day Turkey. Schliemann spent hours and hours of work to come up with his conclusions. He hired several workers to dig tremendous holes in mounds. The search team eventually came across a walled palace that as they were digging approximately fifteen meters deep. A paved ramp was also found underground. The ramp led to the gate that was wide enough for two chariots that could be rode side by side (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy”).
This discovery led Schliemann to believe that he had found the Troy that Homer has described throughout the Iliad. However, the rest of the world did not agree. Schliemann then made the groundbreaking discovery of gold jewelry, which was evidence for a rich and powerful culture. He assumed that he had found the jewelry of Helen. Helen was supposedly the most beautiful woman on earth who, as legend says, was the cause of the Trojan War. This discovery intrigued those who had doubted him (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy”).
However, Schliemann later found that the jewelry was aged thousands of years older than Helen’s time. This was done by digging deeper and revealing nine layers, each of which presented a different time period. Conversely, some of the site’s physical appearances and features were correlated with Homer’s descriptions, such as the towers, the wide streets, and the lofty gates. It seems as if Schliemann had uncovered an area in which there once stood a strong citadel with watchtowers. However, this architecture disagreed with Homer’s description of Troy. The city appeared to be too small, considering that it had survived ten years of attack. Also, its size is not as close as to what Homer described in the Iliad (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
Manfred Korffman also led some excavations for Troy. In 1988, he and a large international team looked for the science behind Troy rather than the myth. Korffman re-examined the citadel and looked at the thickness of the rocks and the height of the fortifications. He discovered that there was no possible way to close the gate. With this information, Korffman came up with the conclusion that invaders could have easily walked into the city of Troy. This confused Korffman, as he questioned why a civilization would create a city that could not be defended. He then suggested the idea that the walls he examined were not the outside boundaries of Troy. He believed that there could be more to Troy than what was already understand (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
Korffman and his excavation team began to search in the outside vicinity of the Trojan walls where they unearthed remains dated from the late Bronze Age, the supposed era of Troy. Their findings included a number of storage jars, a hearth in the middle to keep warmth inside, two storied walls, and an item that appears to have been used as a toilet in the back area. (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy). Korffman had wondered if these discoveries meant that Troy was actually extended further past the initial walls discovered and into the fields. He wanted to find out if his hypothesis was correct, and he stated to excavate into what he believed was the lower city. However, the region was too big and he turned to magnetic imaging as a means of searching beneath the surface (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
Korffman looked, but only found a city that belonged to a later time period, the Greek and Roman Era. However, Korffman later found a deep ditch and he hypothesized that it had been created for defensive purposes, and it marked the end of the lower city area. With the full city revealed, Korffman concluded that Troy was of great size and had a population of about four to eight thousand people. However, this did not prove that the great city of Troy was the same city that Homer had written about (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
Korffman and his city excavated furthered. He discovered arrow heads in the lower city which suggested that fighting took place very close to the soldiers’ bodies. He also found heaps of stone pellets. Korffman also found many skeletons. He imagined a great fire sweeping through the city of Troy. Korffman came to the conclusion that Troy was a city that was attacked, defended itself, and was eventually defeated. Korffman however, then had to answer who were the ones that took down the powerful city of Troy (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
Now excavations of Mycenae had to be made. Since the road network along the Mycenaen citadel spreads to many other directions, it suggests that Mycenae was the political center of the Greek world. A massive circle of graves site bounded by stone walls demonstrated how great the Mycenaens really were because the skeletons of the men found there were uncovered wearing large gold death masks and fancy ceremonial armor. This allowed the archaeologists to look directly into the faces of the Mycenaean rulers, who were buried with forty to fifty swords that represented the emphasis on a strong military the Mycenaens felt. (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
This was still not enough to act as a link to Mycenae and Troy. It seems that the Mycenaeans required wealth and the latest technology of the time-bronze in order to build new walls and double the citadel in size. A discovery fifty meters deep down the coast of Troy showed a wrecked ship filled with great amounts of bronze items. The treasure on the ship was proof of an immense trading systems and it was suggested that the ship was capable of sailing to Troy. Korffman believed that Troy was an important trading center, especially when taking a closer look at its location. Troy was on the coast of the Dardanelles, a narrow channel of water separating the continents of Europe and Asia. (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
The Hittite tablets gave insight about certain conflicts and tensions concerning this empire over 3,000 years ago. Scholars began to search the tablets for any clues regarding the city of Troy. They found references about a city named Wilusa, and the tablets revealed that the Mycenaeans had fought at the gates of Wilusa. Scholars then had to prove that the cities of Troy and Wilusa were the same city. (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
The Hittite tablets stated that the empire had been going to Wilusa, therefore moving to the west during the late Bronze Age. It was hard to tell, however, if that meant they were going to the northern part or the southern part of the west coast. If the Hittites had gone to the northwest, that could provide support for the idea that Troy and Wilusa were the same city. The inscription on a mountain pass was later deciphered and indicated that the Hittite army had moved to the north part of the coast. However, scientists still needed archaeological proof. (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
Korffman studied the water tunnel under Troy, believing that it was created during the late Bronze Era, but other scholars disagreed. Since there was mention of a water tunnel in Wilusa, Korffman hoped to connect the two to prove that they were the same city. Korffman found layers of limestone left behind by water dripping, and dated the small quantities of uranium’s radioactive decay. The results revealed that the tunnel had been started around 2600 BC and was therefore in use when the Hittite tablets were written. This could be proof that Troy and Wilusa were the same city (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
The Hittite tablets also suggest that Troy was an ally of the Hittite empire. This means that if Troy was raided, the Hittites would have been likely to come and fight alongside the Trojans (Barbu, “The Truth of Troy).
The first parallel that I found throughout my research was the reference that Homer made with chariots arriving at the city of Troy. Towards the end of the epic poem, there were several chariot racings that took place. This connects to the fact that Schliemann made discoveries that two chariots could be rode side by side in between a gate into a palace located in Troy, which he actually found in modern day Turkey. Parallels also occur with Korffman. He suggested that Troy was destroyed and collapsed all during the late Bronze Age, which is what Homer suggested.
Also, Homer also mentioned that Mycenae was the political center of the Greek world, which was Korffman’s suggestion. The excavations in Mycenae and the findings of a “warrior culture” are exactly as Homer described. They were very forceful, and an example of this would be when King Agamemnon and Achilles took people as their prizes of victory. The mention of King Agamemnon not wanting to spare people in battle also shows their viciousness. The several firearms described in the Iliad is also proof of their “warrior culture”. The Hittite tablets suggest that Troy and the Hittites were allies. This agrees with Homer, as he suggested that the Myceneans had to fight against Troy along with the Hittites.
Are the parallels strong enough?
I believe that the parallels are strong enough, and that they do strongly suggest that the Trojan War really did occur. I believe that the war did not occur in the exact way as Homer described, since he involved gods and super powered warriors. There was no links to the proof of the Trojan Horse, also supporting my suggestion that the war did not happen exactly how legend tells it. I do believe that there was a conflict however with the Mycenaeans and the Trojans and that it led to a war.
The validity of the Trojan War is still widely debated. Many primary sources suggest that the war really did happen and they also provide great insight on Mycenae, Troy, and their location. Korffman and Schliemann did provide some great archaeological findings, but more evidence is still needed to completely prove to scientists that the war really did happen.
Troyan War: a Mythical Or a Real Battlefield
The name Troy alludes both to a spot in legend and a genuine archeological site. In legend, Troy is a city that was blockaded for a long time and in the end vanquished by Hellenes. Troy likewise alludes to a genuine antiquated city situated on the northwest shore of Turkey which, since relic, has been distinguished by numerous individuals similar to the Troy talked about in the legend, the cutting-edge Turkish name for which is Hisarlik. There are number of excavations taken place on the land of Hisarlik. In any case, for what reason would we say we are in any event, discussing Troy or Hisarlik, for what reason would it say it was unearthed so often, why have we spent such a large amount of assets digging just that part of land on earth, or on the other hand why even Hollywood has made a film on that name or why there are even groups of football and baseball named after trojans? Homer knows it all.
Homer was a blind Greek poet and the unbelievable creator of the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems that are the focal works of antiquated Greek writing. In the Iliad Homer expounds on part of the way through the Trojan war, portraying the inceptions of the war, how Helen fled from her better half, the ruler of Sparta (Menelao), with the sovereign of Troy (Paris). In it Homer additionally expounds on the Greek legends, for example, Achilles and Ajax, he likewise expounds on a portion of the Trojan legends, for example, Hector. The Trojan horse is then referenced by Homer and thought to be a finesse Greek military methodology that at last crushed the Trojans. Agamemnon set the city ablaze. Homer likewise composed the Odyssey which was tied in with King Odysseus’ arrival adventure to Greece after the Trojan war. The Trojan War occurred in the twelfth or thirteenth century BC and kept going around 10 years. Is it safe to say that it isn’t intriguing the way, Greeks went at war for only a beauty for a long time, which is accepted to be a genuine long time to them and not for some other reasons like business, exchange, draw of riches, land and so forth.? Along these lines, many accepted that the Trojan war didn’t really occur and was believed to be only a Greek legendary story until the late 1870’s the point at which a German Archeologist named Heinrich Schliemann unearthed the site by utilizing the account of the Trojan war from Homer.
Heinrich Schliemann was a perplexing character, part visionary and part virtuoso in mask. A considerable lot of his counterparts viewed him as an idealistic, as he went around in Turkey outfitted with little yet a beat-up release of Homer’s ‘Iliad.’ Using these two writings Heinrich Schliemann had the option to locate the real region of Troy. Through exhaustive unearthing Schliemann had the option to uncover numerous degrees of Troy and accepts that the ninth level was the Troy depicted in Homer’s writings because of the way that there was proof of consumed dividers. Schliemann was resolved to find old Troy – thus he did. Thus, after this the race began to uncover the territory of troy so as to discover whether the Troy which Schliemann accepted to be of Homer was really the one or not.
The contest among Troy and the Greek city-states, as per Homer, started when Paris, child of Troy’s King Priam, conveyed Helen back to Troy as a reward from the goddess, Aphrodite. Menelao, so as to which asks his brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae to design an intrusion of Troy to right this wrong. Agamemnon had for the longest time been itching to assume control over Troy however was much of the time halted by his sibling thus considered this to be a chance to at long last assume control over this wonderful city. As indicated by Homer, the undertaking set out with 100,000 men and more than 1,100 boats. In Homer’s accounts the divine beings were included during the war. They would descend and participate in the war and help the Greeks and Trojans in various parts of the war. Homer underestimated that his group of spectators realized a war had been battled for what was on the other hand called Ileus or Troy. The poet was for the most part worried about depicting the anger of Achilles and its results. He utilized Troy and the war as a lovely setting for a contention among men and divine beings.
By relating the 52 days of a year ago of the contention in his Iliad, Homer has portrayed us perfectly, how the antiquated Greeks were, the means by which they used to live, how they used to arrange and praise occasions, how they rehearsed sports, truth be told, he subtleties us with everything what we might want to think about the old Greeks. Be that as it may, what guards numerous individuals and history specialists to accept is the means by which Homer presents to us the manner by which the old Gods would have helped in the war and the reality displayed by him that the 10 year of contention was done so as to bring Helen once again from Troy.
For the ones who accept that Trojan War may have occurred have perhaps few reasons other than what Homer displayed, which could be, the geological area of Troy has made us unmistakable that it was a truly appropriate spot to access Black Sea effectively. What’s more, in view of the exchange of the nations situated over the ocean, Troy was profited by the assessments which it got. So the Greeks would have needed to possess it, so as to profit themselves by having simple access to land and water. Moreover, Greeks were additionally charmed towards the expectations for everyday comforts of the individuals of Troy and they may have heard stories about Troy and the wealth which were available there, so they may have done battle hence. What’s more, different reasons might be the Trojan War was not caused or reached out by Helen getting away Sparta with Trojan ruler Paris. The war was really activated by delicate manliness found in pioneers. Helen assumes a negligible job in the pages of The Iliad, rather Homer spotlights on the connections and activities of legends, who all happen to be men. The Homeric gallant code, which is for the most part constrained to guys, is surrendered by those we anticipate that it from the all together should secure their very own advantages. It is likewise accepted by some that there must not have truly been a solitary Trojan war, yet numerous such wars which were battled in the purpose of respect, pride, obtain wealth and so forth.
At this point, I really think we have got enough archeological and historical evidence which help us to support the fact that, yes there was indeed a Trojan War. The Iliad in fact is no less than a proof to us, given by Homer. Though he might have added things to make it presentable and intriguing towards his audience, but he might have heard about the war from his ancestors and other folks who would have recited to him about the great battle which took place approximately 500 years before him. Other than that, we also cannot just ignore the efforts done by Heinrich who was able to locate Hisarlik with the help of two of Homer’s work. And was also able to gather some evidences which were relevant to what Homer presented in the Iliad (e.g. Cup of Nestor). Some key evidences to believe it as a historical event are, we can with a high level of likelihood recognize the site presently known as Hisarlik in northwestern Turkey with the antiquated bastion of Troy, put on the map by the epic lyrics of Homer. Level VIh of this site best accommodates Homer’s depiction of Troy. We got Hittite texts as well, to trust it. In those writings we get the chance to find out about a spot named Wilusa, towards which Greeks demonstrated their political interests, it was situated far-north of Anatolia and had a place with Hittite domain. A few looks into affirmed that Wilusa which was anticipated to be Troy in Hittite writings, was really the Troy, as a result of the water tunnel which was dated by the assistance of innovation and technology. And furthermore, one exceptionally known proof, which we can’t overlook of is the Linear B tablets. It is a noteworthy source since it is a wellspring of composed clear for the Trojan war, the tables give us a knowledge into the presence and the fall of The Mycenaean domain and the impacts that Trojans had on this fall.
Decisively we have now truly got enough to accept that Trojan War can be considered as a chronicled occasion instead of a fantasy, its fair it didn’t really happen the manner in which Homer introduced and we have enough current archeological and authentic proof to help this reality and to foresee as well, that what truly would have occurred there around then.
- Latacz, Joachim. Troy and Homer: towards a Solution of an Old Mystery. Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.
- Alden, Maureen. Homer beside Himself: Para-Narratives in the Iliad. Oxford University Press, 2001.
- Cline, Eric H. 2. The Trojan War in Context: Mycenaeans, Hittites, Trojans, and Sea Peoples. The Trojan War, Jan. 2013, pp. 27–38., doi:10.1093/actrade/9780199760275.003.0002.
- Introduction: Dialogue. Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War: Dialogues on Tradition, doi:10.5040/9781350012714.ch-001.
What Was the True Cause of the Trojan War?
The Trojan War
According to the Greek legend, the Trojan War was fought between the Greeks and the citizens of Troy. The direct cause of this war was the beauty of Helen of Troy. She was the daughter of the Greek god Zeus and Leda, the Queen of Sparta. All the men in the area loved her so after she chose a husband, the King of Sparta made all men swear that they would accept her decision and that they would also defend her if anyone tried to take her away from him.
According to the myth, the Trojan War began when Eris threw a golden apple marked “For the Fairest” at a wedding. All the goddesses wanted the apple but the choices were narrowed down to three: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. To decide who would get the apple, the three decided to hold a beauty contest. They asked Paris, the Trojan prince, to choose the most beautiful goddess between the three. Each goddess tried to influence the prince by offering him different prizes, and in the end he chose Aphrodite because she promised him his choice of the most beautiful woman.
Paris chose Helen as his prize. He travelled to Sparta, and stayed with Helen and her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta. Helen was influenced by Aphrodite’s spell and agreed to marry Paris and go with him to Troy. The King became very angry and asked all of Greeks to help him get his wife back to Sparta. The Greek warriors assembled 1,000 ships and sailed off to Troy. For nine years, the battle was indecisive. But in the tenth year Paris and Menelaus agreed to have their warriors face each other in a single combat, with Helen as the judge. The Greeks built a great wooden horse outside Troy’s walls and filled it with soldiers. The Trojans thought the battle was over and brought the wooden horse into the city as a trophy of the battle. When night fell, the soldiers inside the horse burst out and threw open the gates to the city. The Greek forces then destroyed Troy. Although the Greeks claimed victory in the Trojan War, Aphrodite helped Paris escape the enraged Menelaus by sweeping Paris away in a cloud. Menelaus was reunited with Helen and the two returned to Greece, to the displeasure of the native Greeks.
The cities of Troy, (since several were found), were located in what is now modern day Turkey. Their existence was proved by the archaeological work of Heinrich Schliemann. Eventually evidence of at least nine cities was uncovered on the spot — cities that existed from about 3000 BC until the Roman period 30 centuries later. Ancient Troy was destroyed by fire in about the 13th, or possibly early 12th, century BC.
Even though the city of Troy is over four thousand years old, the first excavations at the site were not started until 1870, by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann.
Henrich Schliemann excavated the area at Hisarlik in Turkey during the 1870s and found nine cities in layers one on top of the other. After examining each layer carefully he noticed that the second city from the bottom showed signs of having been “sacked and burned.” He was thrilled, thinking it was the city of Troy in which the battle to rescue Helen was fought. However, it turned out he was wrong because the city he thought was the Troy from the stories is about 1300 years too old and it was later found out that the true site of the Trojan War is five levels higher, making it the 7th city from the bottom. While digging in the second city, he discovered over 100 objects, including gold, necklaces, earrings, swords, copper and silver bowls. There is now a large dispute between Russia, Turkey, and Germany over the ownership of these items.
Continuing modern archaeological excavations have shown that Troy was destroyed by fire in the early 12th century BC, the traditional date of the war.
The stories about the Trojan War were based on an actual struggle over control of the rich trade routes through the Hellespont. Situated at the Dardanelles, a narrow strait (which was known as the Hellespont in ancient times), Troy had grown a lot in wealth when it took control of the narrow shipping lane, placing heavy tolls, and mainly interfering with Greek trade. The sixty kilometer long strait links the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean Sea and seperates the continent of Europe from Asia Minor. Along with the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus, it forms the only outlet of the Black Sea. Even today, whoever controls this water route commands a highly strategic area because it allows them to also control access of ships from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea-Suez Canal-Indian Ocean sea lane. The world’s ships must pass through here to reach the grain ports of Ukraine and the oil ports of Romania and the Caucasus region.
The Trojan War is believed to have been fought between the Greeks of the late Mycenaean period and the inhabitants of Troy (called Trojans), a part of present-day Turkey in Asia Minor, and its citizens were called Trojans. During the Trojan War, Troy was a well-walled city with broad streets and beautiful palaces. Many Asian allies, such as the Ascanians, the Amazons, the Lycians and the Eastern Ethiopians, came with their armies to help the city.
Although most of the information we have about the Trojan War is based on the Greek mythology, archeologists have proven that the city of Troy did exist. The reason for the war is still being disputed but generally agreed that it was a war over land and not Helen of Troy.
Helen of Troy and Her Role in Launching the War
One in six American women are victims of attempted or completed rape according to the National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Unfortunately, rape is common. It is not so wrong, then, to suggest the large possibility of Helen of Troy’s abduction by Paris to be against her will. Rape is never the victim’s fault. Helen is an example of such a victim. She in no way should be blamed for starting the Trojan war through being with Paris, as she did not knowingly go with him and engage in sexual relations with him. It is absolutely ridiculous to blame victims for their misfortune, especially for their misfortune playing a part in starting war. If someone were to accidentally be struck by lightning and it was misconstrued as a gunshot that started a war, should we blame the stricken victim, or should we pity him and perhaps even praise him for withstanding such a tragic event?
Take into consideration that Helen was in the same position as the lightning strike victim. And, even if Paris did not violently and forcibly assault Helen, she is still not to blame, he is. Paris’s persuasive discourse could have convinced poor Helen into going with him. Persuasion, true persuasion, can be a nasty tool when attempting to convince innocent people to make poor decisions they do not recognize as wrong. Such a cause for Helen’s leaving with Paris acquits her of blame for the war: it was the persuader, Paris, not her.
Additionally, Helen was considered the most beautiful woman in the world at the time (consider more beautiful than, say, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lawrence, Beyoncé, Mila Kunis, et cetera), and was desired by many men. She had the beauty of a goddess, understandably, as her parents were Zeus and Lena. Helen cannot be held accountable for her mesmerizing desirability causing the abduction, and subsequently, the Trojan war. If anything, she should be pitied for having to withstand Paris’s kidnapping and possible rape. Once again, a factor in Helen’s situation that she could not have controlled caused her great misfortune that, unfortunately, lead to war.
It is also relevant to consider the topics of fate and the Gods, as these could have been the major factors in Helen’s leaving with Paris. She could not have controlled divine forces and the will of the universe, so why blame her? If it was indeed the Gods and fate to blame, that is a misfortune to Helen, not her choice. If it was a love for Paris that deceived Helen into going with him, that is a misfortune to Helen, not a sin. Love is a force more powerful than any person. She could have been mislead through a tragic affliction, but no matter what the reason, Helen did not plan to go with Paris, so the war was not her doing.
In summation, Helen of Troy is not responsible for causing war. In each set of possibilities of why she went with Paris, she is not the one to blame. Whether she was abducted by force and possibly raped, evilly persuaded and tricked into going with Paris, thrown into the events that transpired by fate and divine forces, or was seduced by the power of love to go with Paris, Helen did not cause her abduction purposefully. She should not be held accountable for causing war, and instead should be pitied and even praised for having to go through such taxing events and being wrongfully blamed for the catastrophic incident of war.
The History of the Trojan War
Thesis The Trojan War started in c.1200 BC when Aphrodite offered Paris of Troy Helen of Sparta for the apple of discord, He accepted her offer. Aphrodite made a plan to make Helen of Sparta fall in love with Paris; She disguised Paris as a diplomatic emissary. Then he went to Sparta, Helen welcomed him with open arms, while Menelaus was away in Crete, The god of love Eros, shot an arrow at her making her fall in love with Paris. They married and left for Troy. When Menelaus returned home from Crete, he realized that Helen had run off with Paris. He and Odysseus went to Troy to retrieve Helen, But all diplomatic attempts failed So Menelaus invoked the oath of Tyndareus and with help from his brother Agamemnon, Called all Greek leaders who had previously been in line to marry Helen to fulfill their pledge. They also needed the help of Achilles, because of the prophecy that Troy would only fall with his help. Odysseus, Telamonian Ajax, and Phoenix went to Skyros where they knew Achilles was hidden. Achilles was disguising himself as a woman, Then there, they either blew a warhorn, on the sound of which Achilles was the only woman that took a spear in hand; or they appeared as merchants selling jewels and weapons. Achilles was the single woman interested in the weapons
The reason the war started is technically that of Menelaus; he failed to sacrifice one hundred oxen to Aphrodite which began her wrath. The story of Trojan War highlights how deeply the Greeks and Trojans believed that the Gods and the rituals used to appease them affected everything they did in their daily lives.The Cause Of the Trojan WarIt started at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis where Eris, The goddess of discord, threw a golden apple to Aphrodite, Hera and Athena addressed “To the Fairest.” The reason Eris had thrown the apple was that all the Gods and Goddesses were invited attend except Eris. Zeus refused to judge the goddesses and gave the task to Paris, A mortal prince, to choose who was the fairest; He couldn’t decide between the three, so The Goddesses bribed him with gifts. Hera offered to make him king of all men if she had been chosen as the fairest, Athena promised him victory in war, and Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman in the world. Because of her offer he selected Aphrodite, she told him that she would get him, Helen of Sparta, the only catch was that she was married to Menelaus, King of Sparta. Paris went to Sparta while Menelaus was in Crete, Helen welcomed him with open arms. Eros, God of love, shot an arrow at Helen and made her fall in love with Paris, They eloped immediately and went back to Troy.
When Menelaus came back from Crete and found out what happened, He had Odysseus go to Troy with him to retrieve Helen, When all diplomatic attempts had failed he invoked the oath of Tyndareus and with the help of his brother Agamemnon. He called all the Greek leaders who had been in line to marry Helen to fulfill their pledge. They had also needed the help of Achilles because of a prophecy that Troy would only fall with his support. Phoenix, Telamonian, Ajax, and Odysseus went to Skyros where they knew Achilles was hidden. Achilles was disguising himself as a female, Then there, they either blew a warhorn, on the sound of which Achilles was the only woman that took a spear in hand; or they appeared as merchants selling jewels and weapons. Achilles was the only female intrigued by the weaponry. The Siege Of TroyMenelaus’s brother happened to be Agamemnon, who was the most powerful king amongst the Greeks. Menelaus and Agamemnon visited all of the Greek Chieftains and persuaded them to take part in a colossal expedition which they were preparing to take down Troy, Agamemnon had been chosen as commander-in-chief; next to him were the most important Greek heroes, his brother Menelaus, Patroclus, and Achilles. Two unrelated men named Ajax, Nestor and his son Antilochus, Teucer, Idomeneus, Diomedes, Odysseus, and Philoctetes, who, however, at the very start of the expedition had to be left behind. They didn’t appear on the scene of action right until the fall of Troy.
The entire army consisted of 100,000 Greek warriors and 1,186 ships assembled in the harbor of Aulis. Before they left for the expedition, they made sacrifices to secure the favor of the gods for the voyage to Troy. While making the sacrifice, a snake darted out from under the altar, went up a tree, devoured eight young sparrows, and the mother had finally turned into stone. This omen Calchas, the seer of the host, interpreted that it meant the war would last nine years and end in the tenth year with the fall of Troy. Agamemnon had previously met an oracle from Delphi that Troy would fall when the heroes of Greece fought amongst each other. In Homer, the crossing to Troy starts immediately, but in the following story, the Greeks accidentally land in Mysia, in the country of Telephus, They’re scattered by a storm and driven back to Greece, and then assemble anew at Aulis. Once they had arrived, they learn divine disfavor is preventing them from crossing into Troy until Agamemnon agrees to sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the enraged gods, this was an incident that was entirely unknown to Homer. After landing, skirmishing, and setting up their camp. Odysseus and Menelaus proceed as ambassadors to Troy, to demand the surrender of Helen, in spite of the inclination of Helen herself and the warning of the Trojan Antenor, never takes hold, owing to the opposition of Paris.
War was declared, the amount of the Trojans numbered less than one-tenth of the Greeks. Even though they had many brave heroes such as Glaucus, Aeneas, Sarpedon, and especially Hector, in fear of Achilles, they didn’t dare to engage a general attack and remained holed up behind massive walls protecting the city. The Greeks couldn’t do anything against the well-fortified and defended town, and see themselves confined to laying ambushes and devastating the surrounding area, and compelled by the lack of provisions, had to resort to foraging expeditions in the surrounding by sea and land by general Achilles. As the last decisive tenth year reaches, The Iliad narrates the events of this year, restricting itself to the space of fifty-one days. During the war, the Greeks have taken multiple war prizes from the encompassing countryside. One of these prizes is Chryseis, the daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo. He came in priestly garb into the camp of the Greeks to redeem his daughter from Agamemnon. He is rudely put down, and Apollo consequently visits the Greeks with a plague. In an assembly of the Greeks requested by Achilles, the seer Calchas declares the only means of the appeasing the god to be the surrender of the girl without ransom.
Agamemnon consents to the general wish. But, in the way of compensation, takes from Achilles, who he considers to be the instigator of the whole lot, his favorite slave Briseis. Achilles withdraws, furious, to his tent and implores his mother, Thetis to attain a promise from Zeus that the Greeks should meet with disaster in fighting the Trojans until Agamemnon returns the girl and restores Achilles” honor. The Trojans immediately take the open ground, and Agamemnon is induced by a promise of victory, conveyed in a lying dream from Zeus, to start the fight. The armies are standing opposing to one another, prepared to fight when they agree to a treaty that the entire conflict will be decided by a battle fought between Paris and Menelaus. Paris is defeated in the battle and is only saved from death by the interference of Aphrodite. When Agamemnon presses for the attainment of the treaty, the Trojan Pandarus breaks the truce by shooting an arrow at Menelaus, and the treaty breaks apart. The first open pact in the war begins, in which, under the safeguard of Athena, Diomedes performs marvels of courage and damage even Ares and Aphrodite. Diomedes and the Lycian Glaucus are on the verge of fighting when they recognize one another as genealogical guest-friends and stop their fight, an indicator of how important the concept of hospitality, XENIA, in Greek. The day ends with a tentative duel between Hector and Ajax son of Telamon. They make a truce to bury their deceased, and the Greeks, acting on the input of Nestor, surrounding their camp with a wall and trench.
Once the battle begins again, Zeus forbids the gods to take part in it and imposes that the fight shall end with the defeat of the Greeks. On the following night, Agamemnon already begins to think about fleeing, but Nestor advises reconciliation with Achilles. Agamemnon sends an embassy, including Odysseus, to make amends with Achilles. The efforts of ambassadors are, however, fruitless. Then Odysseus and Diomedes go out on a night-time reconnaissance mission, kill many Trojans, and capture a Trojan spy. On a succeeding day, Agamemnon’s bravery drives the Trojans back to the walls of the town; but he, Odysseus, Diomedes, and other heroes leave the battle wounded, and the Greeks retreat behind the camp’s walls. The Trojans advance and attack the Greek walls. The resistance of the Greeks is daring, but Hector breaks the rough gate with a rock, and the stream of enemies pours itself free into the camp. Once again the Greek heroes who are still adequate and can take part in the battle, especially the two Ajaxes and Idomeneus. They become victorious with the help of Poseidon in repelling the Trojans, while Telamonian Ajax makes Hector dash to the ground with a stone; but the latter soon reappears on the battlefield with the new strength given to him by Apollo at the order of Zeus. Poseidon is obliged to leave the Greeks to their fate; they retire again to the ships, which Ajax in vain defends. The Trojans advance still further to where they can begin torching the Greek ships. Hector and Achilles this point, Achilles allows his friend Patroclus to borrow his armor and enter the battle with their set of soldiers to help the distressed Greeks. Supposing it to be Achilles himself, the Trojans in fear flee from the camp before Patroclus, who chases them to the town and lays low vast numbers of the enemy, including the brave Sarpedon, whose corpse is only rescued from the Greeks after a relentless fight.
At last Patroclus himself is killed by Hector with the help of Apollo; Achilles” arms are lost, and even the corpse is with difficulty saved. And now Achilles repents of his anger, reconciles himself to Agamemnon, and on the following day, furnished with new and splendid armor by Hephaestus at the request of Thetis, avenges the death of his friend on countless Trojans and finally on Hector himself. The Iliad closes with the burial of Patroclus and the funeral games initiated in his honor, the restoration of Hector’s corpse to Priam, and the burying of Hector, for which Achilles allows an armistice of eleven days. Immediately after the death of Hector, the following legends bring the Amazons to the help of the Trojans, and their queen Penthesilea is killed by Achilles. Then arrives Memnon at the head of an Ethiopian contingent. He slays Antilochus son of Nestor but is also killed by Achilles. Death of Achilles now comes to the fulfillment of the oracle given to Agamemnon at Delphi; for at a sacrificial banquet a violent quarrel arises between Achilles and Odysseus, the latter declaring craft and not valor to be the only means of destroying Troy. Soon after, in an attempt to force a way into the hostile town through the Scaean gate, Achilles falls, killed by the arrow of Paris, directed by the god. After his burial, Thetis offers the arms of her son as a prize for the bravest of the Greek heroes, which provokes a fight among the Greeks for the title and the arms. Odysseus wins, and his main competition, the Telamonian Ajax, kills himself.
Trojan Horse: An Analysis of Accepting Such a ‘Gift’
The Hollow Horse
One of the main stories told throughout Greek mythology is the story of the Trojan War. In the story, the Greeks and The Trojans battle for the fair Helen. When it appeared that the Greeks had lost, they set sail, leaving behind a wooden horse. When Troy decided that they were victorious, they accepted the giant wooden horse into the gates of the city. Little did the Trojans know that inside the hollow horse, Greek soldiers were hiding, awaiting nightfall. The decision of the Trojans to accept the horse was ultimately a bad decision.
When the Trojans saw the magnificent horse, they looked upon it as a trophy. Although Cassandra the prophetess and Laocoön the priest of Apollo had both argued against allowing the horse into the gates, the Trojans ignored the warnings (“The Trojan War: c. 1200 BCE”). Cassandra was cursed by Apollo to always predict the truth but to never be believed. She warned Paris not to go to Sparta. She “continued to predict the calamities in store for the Trojans” but was never listened to (Bell 161). Laocoön also warned the Trojans not to allow the horse into the gates when he said, “I fear the Greeks even when they offer gifts” (Laocoön 633). He too was ignored and was punished by the gods for his warnings (Laocoön 634). The giant horse loomed outside of the gates while the soldiers inside held their breath, waiting for victory. When the Trojans had come upon the statue, “they believed it meant that the Greeks had withdrawn, leaving them the victors” (“The Trojan War: c. 1200 BCE”). The tremendous statue was allowed into the city of Troy. When day turned to night, the Greeks snuck out of the statue and destroyed the city of Troy. Fires were created and men were killed. Women and children were stolen from their homes and sent or sold away.
The idea only sprouted because the Greeks were losing the battle of Troy. Helen had been stolen from the Spartans and Menelaus was furious. His army was determined to get her back for their king. The giant horse was created by the Greeks under Odysseus’ command. Odysseus knew that trickery would be the only way to win against Troy. Odysseus had “ordered a gigantic wooden horse to be built, hollow inside to accommodate many Greek soldiers.” (“The Trojan War: c. 1200 BCE”). With the hope of tricking the Trojans into accepting the horse, Odysseus and other Greek soldiers hid in the hollow horse while the rest of the Greek soldiers were sent home on their ships. Just Sinon was left behind in order to trick the soldiers into accepting the gift (“The Trojan War: c. 1200 BCE”). The Trojans were so overcome with excitement, that they accepted the horse as a trophy with little thought.
Allowing the horse into Troy was a bad decision because Troy was taken over and fell with the Trojan War. The Trojan War “lasted ten years and was successful only because of the Trojan Horse, a work of deception” (“War Engines: Land and Sea”). If Odysseus had not thought of the giant statue, the Trojans would have won the war. Despite the multiple warnings toward the Trojans, the “gift” was accepted into the gates of the city. The Trojans “dragged the horse inside the walls and held a raucous celebration. Late in the night, after the drunken revelers had fallen asleep, Odysseus and his men climbed out of the horse and sacked the city. Menelaus returned home with Helen” (“The Trojan War: c. 1200 BCE”). The city of Troy fell and the Greeks were victorious. The lesson the Trojans learned with their ten years war was that things aren’t always what they appear and that one should always look a little deeper into what appears to be a victory. They also learned that Cassandra had been right all along (Cassandra 209). This helped lead to the classic Greek mythological idea of fate and destiny.
The famous Greek myth of The Trojan War is an excellent example of a decision gone wrong. The decision of the people of Troy led to the downfall of the city. Ignoring the warnings of those who opposed the giant horse, Troy was destroyed by the clever Greek men hiding inside. The one decision that was made completely changed the outcome of many lives.
Trojan War, Homer and the other Historical Embracements of Iliad
For centuries, Homer’s epic Iliad was taken as literal interpretation of the Trojan War. Only rather recently has the reliability and accuracy of the Iliad in terms of depicting the war come into question. Modern historians and scholars have come to the same conclusion that the Iliad is not to be perceived as entirely historically accurate. In order to assess the amount of historical knowledge that is present, and the reliability of the epic as a literary source, the Homeric Question comes into play, along with the perspectives historians and scholars hold of the poem and the archaeological evidence of the Trojan War in correlation to the Iliad.
The Homeric Question calls into question the identity of Homer and the authorship of the Iliad (and the Odyssey). The origin and authorship of the poem is vital in this discussion as it depicts the reliability of the literary work. All known information on Homer was derived from the knowledge of the ancient Greeks; hence, it is most likely biased material as Homer’s work was deeply admired and was highly influential on the Greek culture. Ancient historians and scholars disagreed on the time frame of his life, yet everyone believed that he was blind, a statement based solely on a character in the Odyssey who was written as a blind bard. It was also generally assumed that Homer composed his epic poems with the aid of writing; however, in the eighteenth century the possibility of Homeric illiteracy was proposed. Scholar Robert Wood suggested that Homer had been as illiterate as his own characters from the Iliad. This proposal raised the question of how Homer composed the long poems he was credited with, if he was illiterate. It was later answered by Friedrich August Wolf’s thesis that the Iliad originally was an oral composition, and that, preserved by memory, it was eventually compiled into a form similar to the current Iliad. The Iliad being regarded as an oral history and being passed down by word of mouth are factors that immediately change its validity, as oral histories are significantly less reliable than those written down; memory can be easily manipulated, causing such history to be imperfect and subject to change. Thus, oral histories have the ability to be fluid and changeable. Similarly, Giambattista Vico claims that the Homeric poems were not the creation of one man, but rather the products of generations of nameless bards that refined the epics, a theory that dispels Homer as the true author. This theory is the most plausible, as it explains the inconsistences of the narrative and the poetic language used in the Iliad. Therefore, if the Homeric Question raises valid doubts and the epic poem was based on numerous differing perspectives and went through a process of refinement, it affects the overall reliability and accuracy of the depiction of the Trojan War.
The Iliad remains a subject of debate to historians and scholars alike in regards to its historicity. Modern historians generally agree that the Iliad reflects a set of historical events but that the accuracy of the Iliad regarding those events varies. Nevertheless, it is not possible to separate fact from pure myth in the poem because there is not enough evidence produced about those historical events. Historian Moses Finley notes that the Iliad was not a contemporary and historical work, but rather one of reflection and nostalgia. It is believed by countless others that the epic poem was a subjective piece of literature, due to its glorification of war. In contrast, Herodotus and Thucydides gave weight to Homer’s words in the Iliad and used the Homeric epics as a source of information about ancient Greece and its past, as the poem reflected upon the ideals and morals of Greek society. Both historians believed that the Iliad did illustrate the events of the Trojan War, yet even so, Herodotus disagreed with Homer’s account of the abduction of Helen and accused him of favouring that version in order to suit his narrative and to enhance the drama. This disparity signifies the variety of possible versions of the Trojan War, in the absence of knowledge of the accurate account. Consequently, this reading impacts the validity of Homer’s Iliad, as there is no supporting evidence that his depiction of the events is entirely accurate. The viewpoints of modern and ancient historians differ as they are influenced by their historical periods, along with their own values and perspectives that lead to opposing opinions in the ongoing debate about the historicity of the Iliad. As more is discovered of the Bronze Age, Finley concludes that the Iliad contains historical knowledge of the Greek Dark Age, or of Mycenaean Greece. Historians similarly analyze the bardic traditions of ancient Greek in order to assess the historicity of the epic poem. Being that the Iliad was an oral composition, bards spoke and sang the story, naturally causing it to be subject to slight changes and improvisations during the course of reciting and delivering. This reflects on the aforementioned unreliability of oral histories. Bards rely on improvisation each time they deliver the narrative, without regards to historical accuracy or linguistic consistency; they follow the outline of the story but the oral text itself is changeable. It is impossible to identify which version of the Iliad was written down and recorded in history. Through an analysis of the different perspectives that historians and scholars hold of the Iliad, it is evident that there is a discrepancy among the perspectives. This discrepancy is due to the absence of independent evidence about the historical events that occurred in ancient Greece in terms of the Iliad’s reliability.
Passages in the Iliad seem to correspond with the archaeological evidence found of the Trojan War, which supports the debate about the epic poem holding some form of reliable historical accuracy in its contents. Heinrich Schliemann, a German archaeologist, had complete faith in the historicity of the Iliad; he took it as the literal truth and set out to discover the city of Troy using the poem as a map of the area. Schliemann’s biased expectations inadvertently lead him to destroy the remains of other possible artefacts that supported Homer’s Troy. However, Schliemann’s excavations at Troy and Mycenae revealed newfound information about a previously unknown Bronze Age civilization; its weapons, bronze armor, and various other objects seemed to correspond to Homer’s descriptions and the date of these artifacts coincided with the theorized date of the Trojan War. Modern archaeologists currently understand Troy VIIa as the Troy depicted in the Iliad. The cause of the fall of Troy Vlla appears to have been caused by warfare, perhaps from the Trojan War. The size of the city correlates with the size of Troy depicted in the Iliad, thus further validating the possible historical knowledge present in the epic tradition. The Iliad corresponding to the archaeological evidence found among Hissarlike disproves the theory that the Iliad is purely legendary; however much it romanticizes and glorifies, it does in fact hold some significant historical basis of a city similar to Homer’s Troy existing at the same time as the assigned date of the Trojan War.
The question of the reliability of Homer’s epic Iliad and the authenticity and dependability of the poem in relation to its depiction of the historicity of the Trojan War can be analyzed through the Homeric Question, in regards to the possibility of the Iliad being composed by an assembly of people. This question frames the perspectives of historians and scholars, the debate that arises over historical accuracy, and the consideration of how descriptions in the Iliad coincide with archaeological evidence of the Trojan War. One may conclude that this debate about the Iliad as an accurate source is ongoing, so long as much information about Homeric Age is still unknown and lost in history.
The Archetypical Character of the Trojan War: Its Reflection in Art
There have been many iterations of the tale of the Trojan War, with the Iliad being the most referenced account of the heroes that fought. William Shakespeare, having borrowed heavily from fellow writer Geoffrey Chaucer, recounts the Trojan War with the same events and heroes. However, in true Shakespeare style, the famous playwright offers his own spin on such events and heroes, introducing a very distinct sense of realism throughout the conflict in his play Troilus and Cressida. The Greek deities’ roles in the retelling are reduced to the point of non-existence, only referred to by name to those involved. Shakespeare’s break from tradition with the Homeric Iliad is evident in how Shakespeare portrays the heroes on either side of the conflict, his abandonment of the Greek deities’ actions, and the various anachronisms he introduces in his play. Shakespeare takes the legendary Iliad and draws the epicness out of it, replacing it, in his play, with a deep sense of realism in the heroes and plot.
The first hero of note to display Shakespeare’s break from tradition also happens to arguably be the most powerful warrior in the conflict, Achilles. In Mark Edwards’ take on the Iliad, the god Apollo’s rage-fueled plague against the Greeks “based not only on his support for Hector and Troy but probably also on the tale that Achilles killed young Troilus, Priam’s son, in the temple of Apollo” (304). The fact that Homer initially depicted Achilles as Troilus’s murderer apparently did not sit well for the plot of Shakespeare’s play as Troilus is one of the titular and thus significant characters. Interestingly, Achilles, by comparison, is given a minimized role in the play. This is interesting because the Iliad is sometimes referred to as the rage of Achilles, so the break from tradition in this instance of Achilles is clear.
Achilles’s relationships with others form an important part of the Iliad: his hatred of Agamemnon, his respect for Priam, his disgust with Thersites; but Shakespeare too breaks from tradition with this subject as well. In the Iliad, for example, according to Robert Fagles’s version, in regards to Thersites, supposedly the truth teller of the common Greek warrior, “Achilles despised him most” (II.256). Because of Thersites’s brutal honesty in how the Greek commanders are faring, there are very few among the leadership that hold him in high regard. In Troilus and Cressida however, upon one of the interactions with Thersites, Achilles offers him to feast with him. After a particularly deep lone lamentation on the part of Thersites, Achilles later asks why he has not joined him in feasts, “Where…Art thou come?…why hast thou not served thyself in to my table so many meals? Come, what’s Agamemnon?” (II.iii, 40-43). Achilles first asks where has Thersites been in his railing against the Greek leadership, extends a warm embrace in including Thersites in his feasts, and then empathetically asks what is Agamemnon to Thersites in a spirit of understanding. This represents a difference in relations between the Iliad and in Troilus and Cressida. In the Iliad, as plainly stated, Thersites is despised by all, including Achilles who is said to despise him most, yet in Troilus and Cressida, he extends the hand of friendship and understanding because they both, in reality, share the same message: this is not their war, this is Agamemnon and Menelaus’s war. Thus, Shakespeare openly breaks from tradition by including Achilles’s near brotherly manner towards Thersites, despite the insults occasionally slung his way.
The manner in which Achilles handles such insults, whether directed at him or to his cousin Patroclus, also shows Achilles rather cool headed demeanor in contrast to the fiery wrath portrayed in Homer’s Iliad. When invited to join Achilles in his feasts, Achilles seeks to understand Thersites’s views more completely and bids him to talk. The roles that Achilles, Thersites, and even Patroclus have is brought up for discussion, but it does not appear as though Achilles allows these words to affect him even as Thersites turns the subject into a slight against Patroclus. “Peace, fool! I have not done,” Thersites exclaims to Patroclus, to which Achilles responds “He is a privileged man. Proceed Thersites” (Act II.iii 56-57). Thersites had just railed on Patroclus, calling him a fool and both Patroclus and Achilles know well of Thersites’s vehement hatred towards Agamemnon along with most of the leaders of the Greek army. While Patroclus is quick to shut Thersites down, Achilles is the sympathetic voice, and perhaps it is because in truth, Achilles and Thersites share the same viewpoints on the Trojan War: that it is a useless war based on ego and greed. Achilles welcomes Thersites’s continued criticisms if for no other reason but to understand him better than he may understand himself perhaps. It is with this relationship with Thersites that Shakespeare perhaps offers one of the more acute breaks from tradition.
Finally, near the end of Troilus and Cressida, the differences of Achilles’s actions and character are completed as Shakespeare rewrites how Achilles ends Hector’s life. In the Iliad, Homer states that Achilles had a divine intervention: Athena had disguised herself as Hector’s ally, Deiphobus, in his frantic duel with an enraged Achilles. It was only after the illusion disappeared, that Achilles killed Hector, who was still completely armed and thus died an honorable death (XXII.248-432). However, Shakespeare has decreed that there would be no mystic forces or deities in his play Troilus and Cressida; he once again departs from tradition by offering a different rendition of Hector’s death.
Hector’s end, as depicted in the Iliad compared to the scene from Troilus and Cressida, does not come nearly so honorably on the part of Achilles who has ample assistance against an unarmed Hector. Near the end of another day of battle, Hector prematurely begins to disarm himself “Rest, sword, thou hast thy fill of blood and death.” Not one moment passes by when Achilles and his gang of Myrmidons interrupts Hector in his apparent reverie, “Look, Hector, how the sun begins to set…To close the day up, Hector’s life is done.” Hector pleads with Achilles to face him when he is armed, “Forgo this vantage, Greek.” Achilles, uncaringly, commands his men to attack “Strike, fellows, strike! This is the fellow I seek,” and Hector is then killed (V.viii, 4-10). It is clear here that Achilles does not care whether Hector’s death is honorable or not, and there is no confirmation even that Achilles was the one who had dealt the deathblow to Hector. Whether Patroclus’s death earlier in the play enraged Achilles to the point of not caring about honor or Achilles thought that Hector was admittedly foolish to disarm on the field and thus deserved his death all the more is quite open to interpretation. However, it is clear that Achilles’s killing of Hector was completely devoid of mysticism and honor, bravery and glory as told in the epic, thus confirming once more of Shakespeare’s break from the story told in The Iliad.
On the discussion of characters, one of the main characters in Troilus and Cressida, Pandarus, varies greatly from the play as compared to the epic of the Iliad. Pandarus, in the Iliad, is an archer who was a keen hunter and, following a brief truce between the opposing forces, is tempted by Athena with promises of glory and prizes were he to fell Menelaus with a single arrow. However, once the arrow is launched, Athena turns what may have been a fatal shot into a wounding one and thus the brutal war begins anew (IV.99-153). Comparing to the smooth talking, shady panderer that Shakespeare portrays in Troilus and Cressida, one could almost assume that it was a different Pandarus mentioned in the Iliad by how different the two are in their roles. The only similarities between the two depictions of Pandarus is that the Trojan warriors in the Iliad sought to block the view of Pandarus’s shot from the Greeks so he may aim critically without being seen, and perhaps there is some symbolism for that in Troilus and Cressida as Pandarus’s motives too are hard to truly derive. In a way, Shakespeare twists the character of Pandarus to suit his own needs to tell the story. While Pandarus was only famous for his missed shot in the Iliad as an archer, he is known to have hidden aims and is known to be a master manipulator in the Shakespeare’s play: a break from tradition most assuredly, but somewhat of a symbolic gesture one could assume.
Shakespeare’s handling of characters is not in the least what changes when comparing the Iliad to Troilus and Cressida; being a man of his times, Shakespeare twists his retelling of the events of the Iliad to relate to the audience by eschewing the Greek deities’ interventions and references to titles and sayings of religious nature. These anachronisms serve to further part Homer and Shakespeare in their respective tales. First, it is important to note that absolutely nowhere within Troilus and Cressida are there divine interventions of any kind. The mortals of the play only mention the deities by name, and only then by their Roman names. This is significant because it is theorized the survivors of Troy went on to found Rome, thus many believe that Shakespeare went so far as to favor the Trojans, supported by the cowardly acts of Achilles and the brutish demeanors of the Greeks towards Cressida.
One could even note that, given Shakespeare’s hinted religious affiliations in nearly all of his plays, that the connection made to Rome holds special significance in Troilus and Cressida. Rome, after all, is the birthplace of Catholicism, and once again, in true Shakespeare style, the playwright offers many small references to the faith. What’s more is it is entirely possible to complete the analogy of comparing to the Trojans to Rome by comparing the Greeks to England. It is no secret that in the 16th century, Henry VIII severed all ties from the Catholic Church after several disputes over the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Therefore, the comparison is now complete: covertly, the Trojans represented Rome and Catholicism while the Greeks represented the onslaught of Protestantism in the hearts and minds of the English led by King Henry VIII. It is important to note that this may be one of the subtler, yet controversial changes to the tone of the events originally portrayed by Homer as Shakespeare may have intended to spread his own views throughout the play.
Various anachronisms introduced by Shakespeare serve to further differentiate Homer’s work from the famous playwright. On the subject of religion, the characters of Troilus and Cressida, as indicated earlier, introduce the saying of amen in agreement or assertion of a point, something purely Christian in nature. Achilles, as a matter of fact, makes a reference to the Virgin Mary, perhaps hinting at Shakespeare’s own religious preference as Achilles begins talking of the visit by Hector and oncoming lottery. “Marry, this, sir, is proclaimed” (II.i, 120). Marry is taken to mean as though Achilles is stating ‘by the Virgin Mary’, in the same manner as one might say ‘by God’ in today’s time. Lastly, the introduction of the title of knight throughout Troilus and Cressida is another anachronism for the term knight implies nobility, honor, and chivalry and while this may have been a romantic term well known to the audience, such a title simply did not exist back in Homer’s era. These anachronisms, as a whole, assist Shakespeare in taking Homer’s Iliad and evolving it into a story more suited for his own needs and telling in Troilus and Cressida.
By portraying the Trojan War as thus, Shakespeare makes a statement of sorts: that sometimes heroes an audience glorifies are nothing more than mortals who share many of the same flaws and misgivings as the audience. The Greeks did not gain the honor they sought by attacking and sacking Troy in Troilus and Cressida, rather it is possible Shakespeare made an example of the Greeks’ lecherous and cowardly ways. Shakespeare morphs the heroes he depicts in his adaptation to more closely reflect his vision of realism in such times. More than that, Shakespeare perhaps introduces a bit of his own spirituality by the mentions of amen to seal powerful sayings, and even calling on the icon of the Virgin Mary. In the end, these anachronisms serve to further divide the play of Troilus and Cressida from the epic of Homer’s Iliad, and though Shakespeare may have been a fan of the epic, he clearly also had his reservations and critiques. By adapting Chaucer’s earlier work, Shakespeare gets to reinvent Homer’s epic in his own personal interpretation while dialing back the ferocity and power of both sides’ heroes to more realistic levels and removing all divine intervention save calling of Greek deities’ names. Plainly stated, Shakespeare’s telling of Troilus and Cressida can be described as an anti-Homeric Iliad, and perhaps he sought by taking the epic out of the epic, his audience could more closely connect with the heroes and ideals in this ancient war of pride, lust, and greed.