The Ancient Greek Trojan War is one of the most dramatic and glorious episodes in the history of Ancient Greece. The Trojan War has its roots in a disputed marriage between Peleus and Thetis. Thetis is a sea goddess. Peleus and Thetis made the mistake of not inviting Eris, the goddess of discord. This angered Eris and the outraged goddess stormed into the wedding banquet and threw a golden apple onto the banquet table. Eris told that the apple belonged to whosoever was the fairest.
The apple was reached by Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. But the Ancient Greek god, Zeus, proclaimed that Paris, the Prince of Troy, who was thought to be the most beautiful man alive, would perform the role of the judge. After Hermes went to Paris, he agreed to take over the role of the judge. Paris was promised many things as Hera promised him power, Athena promised him wealth and Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. This was the background to the great Ancient Greek Trojan War.
Triggering of the Ancient Greek Trojan War
Before going into the details of the Trojan War, it is important to discuss the situation prior to the war. In Sparta, Paris was treated as a royal guest by Menelaus, the husband of Helen. The triggering incident took place when Menelaus went out of Sparta to attend a funeral. Helen was abducted by Paris and along with her, Paris carried off much of Menelaus’ wealth as well. However, it is said that rather than an abduction, it was Helen who perhaps had gone willingly with Paris. Helen and Paris moved to Troy where they got married. This incident took place around 1200 BCE (Wood, 16). It was the precursor and the immediate cause of the Trojan War.
Menelaus’ Reaction to the Abduction
On his return to Sparta, Menelaus learned about the abduction of Helen by Paris. This greatly angered him and the outrageous Menelaus called upon all of the old suitors of Helen. This was primarily because all the suitors had long ago taken an oath that they would support Helen’s husband whenever her honor was at stake and that they would undertake all possible measures to defend her honor.
However, the response to Menelaus’ call was cold. Many of the suitors, who had earlier promised loyalty, now did not wish to go to war. Odysseus played a trick and pretended as if he were insane. But his trick was eventually uncovered by Palamedes. Another person who was sought after was the legendary Ancient Greek warrior, Achilles. This was despite the fact that Achilles was not one of Helen’s suitors. But it was the seer Calchas, who was quite aware of Achilles’ abilities and he felt that Troy could never be won over unless Achilles could be pursued to fight in the Trojan War.
Agamemnon became the inspector of the Ancient Greek fleet. This fleet was assembled in Aulis. However, an untoward incident took place as the fleet was ready to set sail. Agamemnon had either actually killed one of Diana’s sacred stags or had made a careless boast of the episode. This outraged Diana who in turn, calmed the seas so that the fleet could not take off. It was again the seer Calchas who came up with a solution. He proclaimed that Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon, must be sacrificed so that the fleet could set sail. This was followed and the action was performed. After this, the Ancient Greek ships set sail, in search of the city of Troy.
The Course of the War
a) Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, was fighting in the war,
b) the bow and arrows of Hercules were used by the Ancient Greeks against the Trojans,
c) the remains of Pelops, the famous hero of Elian, were brought to Troy, and
d) the Palladium, a statue of Athena, was stolen from Troy (Tripp, 587).
Pyrrhus was persuaded by Phoenix to join the war. The bow and arrows of Hercules were with Philoctetes. But he had been left by the Ancient Greek fleet in Lemnos because he had been bitten by a snake and his wound was giving out a horrendous smell. He was persuaded to join the side of the Ancient Greeks and despite his bitterness, he agreed. Finally, the remains of Pelops were gathered and Odysseus infiltrated the war defenses and stole the Palladium.
Consequences of the Trojan War
After the war was over, two sacrifices were made to officially bring the war to an end. Polyxena, the daughter of Priam, was sacrificed at the tomb of Achilles. Astyanax, the son of Hector, was also sacrificed. This signified the end of the war. Helen also survived due to her beauty and seductiveness, which took over Menelaus, who was otherwise determined to kill his faithless wife. The women of Troy who had survived the war were distributed among the Ancient Greek men, as part of the plunder and booty. The Ancient Greeks then finally set sail for Greece. For some people, like Menelaus and Odysseus, the return voyage proved to be as difficult and time-consuming as the time taken by the entire Trojan War itself.
The Ancient Greek Trojan War was one of the most dramatic and important events in Greek history. Many novels, books, movies, and plays have been made on this subject and its fame lies in the fact that it is still reflected in popular imageries.
Trojan War: Fact vs Fiction
Trojan war was considered a work of fiction for most of modernity as the only major proper source was poems of Homer which were filled with heroic events and highly unrealistic portrayals of modernity as the only major proper source were poems of Homer which were filled with heroic events and highly unrealistic portrayal of war and romance. Thus, it was considered just another romanticized war fiction in Greek mythology but it changed with the discovery of Troy by a German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century around modern-day Turkey.
It opened up new research on the Trojan war with Homerian texts now being understood better as a mixture of fiction and facts. It had been agreed that Troy existed but in reality, it was much different than what we expect it to be in the stories and legends but it still has been one of the most impactful events in Greek history.
The Trojan war has had a huge impact culturally over years. The unearthing of ancient Greek texts during the renaissance made the Europeans get in touch with Homer, whose writings are the primary source for the Trojan war.
It formed a huge part of western culture, with shows of the Iliad and Odyssey still going extremely popular. It is taught in schools, played as dramas, researched in academic circles, and its stories used as anecdotes. Its impact had been engraved in western societies.
The elements of romance between Paris and Helen which was one of the causes of the war and the Trojan horse have been immortalized with their modern interpretations. The romance has been interpreted in many plays and films out of which the most recent being the movie ‘Troy”. It is one of the most popular romances in history. Similar to this is the treacherous decoy sent by the Trojans as a wooden horse statue that contained a group of soldiers who turned the tide of the siege and has been made into a metaphor for deception. Even a computer virus has been named Trojan horse, such has been its legacy.