The Ancient Greek Trojan War has its roots in the marriage between Peleus and Thetis, a sea-goddess. Peleus and Thetis had not invited Eris, the goddess of discord, to their marriage and the outraged goddess stormed into the wedding banquet and threw a golden apple onto the table. The apple belonged to, Eris said, whoever was the fairest.

Ancient Greece Trojan War

Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each reached for the apple. Zeus proclaimed that Paris, Prince of Troy and thought to be the most beautiful man alive, would act as the judge.Hermes went to Paris, and Paris agreed to act as the judge. Hera promised him power, Athena promised him wealth, and Aphrodite promised the most beautiful woman in the world.

Ancient Greek Trojan War

In Sparta, Menelaus, husband of Helen, treated Paris as a royal guest. However, when Menelaus left Sparta to go to a funeral, Paris abducted Helen (who perhaps went willingly) and also carried off much of Menelaus’ wealth.

In Troy, Helen and Paris were married. This occurred around 1200 B.C. (Wood, 16).

Ancient Greece Trojan War

Greek Armament

Menelaus, however, was outraged to find that Paris had taken Helen. Menelaus then called upon all of Helen’s old suitors, as all of the suitors had made an oath long ago that they would all back Helen’s husband to defend her honor.

Many of the suitors did not wish to go to war. Odysseus pretended to be insane but this trick was uncovered by Palamedes. Achilles, though not one of the previous suitors, was sought after because the seer Calchas had stated that Troy would not be taken unless Achilles would fight.

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

Ancient Greece Trojan War

The War

The first nine years of the war consisted of both war in Troy and war against the neighboring Greek regions. The Greeks realized that Troy was being supplied by its neighboring kingdoms, so Greeks were sent to defeat these areas.

As well as destroying Trojan economy, these battles let the Greeks gather a lot of resources and other spoils of war, including women (e.g., Briseis, Tecmessa, and Chryseis).The Greeks won many important battles and the Trojan hero Hector fell, as did the Trojan ally Penthesilea. However, the Greeks could not break down the walls of Troy.

Patroclus was killed and, soon after, Achilles was filled by Paris.Helenus, son of Priam, had been captured by Odysseus. A prophet, Helenus told the Greeks that Troy would not fall unless:

a) Pyrrhus, Achilles’ son, fought in the war,

b) The bow and arrows of Hercules were used by the Greeks against the Trojans,

Ancient Greece Trojan War

c) The remains of Pelops, the famous Eleian hero, were brought to Troy, and

d) The Palladium, a statue of Athena, was stolen from Troy (Tripp, 587).

Phoenix persuaded Pyrrhus to join the war. Philoctetes had the bow and arrows of Hercules but had been left by the Greek fleet in Lemnos because he had been bitten by a snake and his wound had a horrendous smell. Philoctetes was bitter but was finally persuaded to join the Greeks. The remains of Pelops were gotten, and Odysseus infiltrated Ancient Greek Trojan War defenses and stole the Palladium.

Ancient Greece Trojan War

After the War

After the war, Polyxena, daughter of Priam, was sacrificed at the tomb of Achilles and Astyanax, son of Hector, was also sacrificed, signifying the end of the war.Menelaus, who had been determined to kill his faithless wife, was soon taken by Helen’s beauty and seductiveness that he allowed her to live.

The surviving Trojan women were divided among the Greek men along with the other plunder. The Greeks then set sail for home, which, for some, proved as difficult and took as much time as the Greek Trojan War itself (e.g., Odysseus and Menelaus).