Trojan War

Trojan War, in Greek mythology, war between the Greeks and the people of Troy. The strife began after the Trojan prince Paris abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. When Menelaus demanded her return, the Trojans refused. Menelaus then persuaded his brother Agamemnon to lead an army against Troy. At Aulis, troopships gathered, led by the greatest Greek heroes—Achilles, Patroclus, Diomedes, Odysseus, Nestor, and the two warriors named Ajax. In order to win favorable winds for the journey, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis. The winds came and the fleet set sail for Troy. For nine years the Greeks ravaged Troy's surrounding cities and countryside, but the city itself, well fortified and commanded by Hector and other sons of the royal household, held out. Finally the Greeks built a large hollow wooden horse in which a small group of warriors were concealed. The other Greeks appeared to sail for home, leaving behind only the horse and Sinon, who deceitfully persuaded the Trojans, despite the warnings of Cassandra and Laocoön, to take the horse within the city walls. At night the Greeks returned; their companions crept out of the horse and opened the city gates, and Troy was destroyed. The gods took great interest in the war. Poseidon, Hera, and Athena aided the Greeks, while Aphrodite and Ares favored the Trojans. Zeus and Apollo, although frequently involved in the action of the war, remained impartial. The events of the final year of the war constitute the main part of the Iliad of Homer. The Trojan War probably reflected a real war  between the invading Greeks and the people of Troas, possibly over control of trade through the Dardanelles.

Trojan War War between the Greeks and Trojans, lasting 10 years. It began when Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, kidnapped Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. When the Trojans refused to return her, the Greeks formed an army, led by Agamemnon, including Achilles, Odysseus and the two Ajaxes. After nine years of fighting, the Greeks pretended to sail for home, leaving behind a large, hollow, wooden horse in which they concealed some warriors. Sinon persuaded the Trojans to bring the horse within the fortified city walls of Troy, despite the warnings of Cassandra. That night the Greeks returned, and when the concealed warriors opened the city gates, they destroyed the city. Homer wrote about the events of the war in his epic, the Iliad. Evidence from excavations carried out at Troy leads historians to believe that the legend reflects a real war between the Greeks and the people of Troas, possibly over control of the Dardanelles and Black Sea.
Achilles tending the wounded Patroclus
(Attic red-figure kylix, c. 500 BC)

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was a legendary ten-year conflict in which Greek warriors laid siege to Troy, a city on the northwestern coast of Asia Minor*. Homer's* great epic the Iliad describes the activities of gods, goddesses, and human heroes during the final year of the war. Some scholars think that the story of the Trojan War may have been based on memories of distant historical events, which became myths with the passage of time.
Thetis gives her son Achilles weapons forged by Hephaestus (detail of Attic black-figure hydria, 575–550 BC)
According to these myths, the Trojan War was rooted in vanity and passion. A youth named Paris, one of the sons of King Priam of Troy, was asked to choose the fairest of three goddesses: Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera. Each goddess offered Paris a special gift if he declared her the fairest. Paris selected Aphrodite, who had promised him the most beautiful woman in the world.
The earliest known depiction of the Trojan Horse, from the Mykonos vase ca. 670 BC

Aphrodite led Paris to Sparta, the home of a Greek prince named Menelaus. Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was considered the world's most beautiful woman. Paris fell in love with Helen and carried her off to Troy. Menelaus asked his brother King Agamemnon* to lead the princes and warriors of Greece against Troy to recover Helen and to punish the Trojans.

Siege attempt to conquer a city or fortress by surrounding it with troops and cutting off supplies

Epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

After some delays, the Greeks arrived outside Troy. They besieged the city but made little progress in the war for more than nine years. The Iliad takes up the story just when Agamemnon
insulted Achilles*, his bravest warrior. Furious with Agamemnon, Achilles withdrew from the conflict and cursed his Greek comrades.

Meanwhile, Hector, another of Priam's sons and the leading Trojan warrior, led a force out of the besieged city to attack the Greeks. He killed Patroclus, who had borrowed the armor of his friend Achilles. Filled with grief and rage, Achilles returned to the battle and slew Hector. Then he dragged Hector's body behind his chariot, preventing the Trojans from holding a proper funeral. This dishonorable act angered the gods, who persuaded Achilles to return the body to Hector's family.

Paris killed Achilles with a well-aimed arrow, only to be killed in turn by a Greek archer. After the death of Achilles, the Greeks recognized Odysseus* as their finest warrior. The valiant Ajax, angry at being passed by, attempted to kill the other Greek leaders and finally committed suicide. Meanwhile, the clever Odysseus came up with a plan to defeat Troy by trickery rather than direct force. He instructed the Greeks to build an enormous, hollow wooden horse on wheels. Greek soldiers hid inside the horse, which was then wheeled to the gates of Troy. The Trojans awoke to find this marvel outside their gates and brought it into the city. That night the Greek soldiers climbed out of the horse and opened the city gates to admit more Greeks. Then they set Troy afire, killing Priam and his family. The term Trojan horse is used to this day to refer to something that appears to be a harmless gift but carries unsuspected danger or destruction within.

Medieval relating to the Middle Ages in Europe, a period from about a.d. 500 to 1500
 Aeneas' Flight from Troy,1598,Federico Barocci (1535–1612)

The Trojan War also provided mythological material for the Romans, who traced their ancestry to Aeneas, a Trojan nobleman who escaped the destruction of Troy. Medieval Europeans created new poems and legends about the Trojan War, often presenting the Trojan point of view. A British legend, for example, claimed that Britain had been founded by descendants of Aeneas and the last Trojans.
The Burning of Troy (1759/62), oil painting by Johann Georg Trautmann

The events of the Trojan War are found in many works of Greek literature and depicted in numerous works of Greek art. There is no single, authoritative text which tells the entire events of the war. Instead, the story is assembled from a variety of sources, some of which report contradictory versions of the events. The most important literary sources are the two epic poems traditionally credited to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, composed sometime between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. Each poem narrates only a part of the war. The Iliad covers a short period in the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey concerns Odysseus's return to his home island of Ithaca, following the sack of Troy.

Other parts of the Trojan War were told in the poems of the Epic Cycle, also known as the Cyclic Epics: the Cypria, Aethiopis, Little Iliad, Iliou Persis, Nostoi, and Telegony. Though these poems survive only in fragments, their content is known from a summary included in Proclus' Chrestomathy. The authorship of the Cyclic Epics is uncertain. It is generally thought that the poems were written down in the 7th and 6th century BC, after the composition of the Homeric poems, though it is widely believed that they were based on earlier traditions. Both the Homeric epics and the Epic Cycle take origin from oral tradition. Even after the composition of the Iliad, Odyssey, and the Cyclic Epics, the myths of the Trojan War were passed on orally, in many genres of poetry and through non-poetic storytelling. Events and details of the story that are only found in later authors may have been passed on through oral tradition and could be as old as the Homeric poems. Visual art, such as vase-painting, was another medium in which myths of the Trojan War circulated.

In later ages playwrights, historians, and other intellectuals would create works inspired by the Trojan War. The three great tragedians of Athens, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, wrote many dramas that portray episodes from the Trojan War. Among Roman writers the most important is the 1st century BC poet Virgil. In Book 2 of the Aeneid, Aeneas narrates the sack of Troy; this section of the poem is thought to rely on material from the Cyclic Epic Iliou Persis.

Sources / Bibliography / Photos

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According to Apollodorus Epitome 3.8, Odysseus forced a Phrygian prisoner, to write the letter.
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This is according to Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8, Hyginus, Fabulae 103, Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 9.325–479, and Euripides, Philoctetes—but Sophocles, Philoctetes says Odysseus and Neoptolemus, while Proclus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad says Diomedes alone.
Philoctetes was cured by a son of Asclepius, either Machaon, (Proclus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad; Tzetzes, Posthomerica 571–595) or his brother Podalirius (Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica 9.325–479).
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Apollodorus, Epitome 5.14, says the hollow horse held 50, but attributes to the author of the Little Iliad a figure of 3,000, a number that Simpson, p 265, calls "absurd", saying that the surviving fragments only say that the Greeks put their "best men" inside the horse. Tzetzes, Posthomerica 641–650, gives a figure of 23, while Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xii.314–335, gives the names of thirty, and says that there were more. In late tradition it seems it was standardized at 40.
Homer, Odyssey 8.500–504; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.15.
Apollodorus, Epitome 5.16, as translated by Simpson, p. 246. Proculus, Chrestomathy 3, Little Iliad, says that the Trojans pulled down a part of their walls to admit the horse.
Proclus, Chrestomathy 4, Iliou Persis.
Homer, Odyssey 8.505 ff.; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.16–15.
Apollodorus, Epitome 5.17 says that Cassandra warned of an armed force inside the horse, and that Laocoön agreed.
Virgil, Aeneid 2.199–227; Hyginus, Fabulae 135;
Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xii.444–497; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.18.
Scholiast on Lycophroon, 344.
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Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii.100–104,Translation by A.S. Way, 1913.
Apollodorus. Epitome 5.21.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata 155; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii.423–457.
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Apollodorus, Epitome 5.22; Pausanias 10.31.2; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii.462–473; Virgil, Aeneid 403–406. The rape of Cassandra was a popular theme of ancient Greek paintings, see Pausanias, 1.15.2, 5.11.6, 5.19.5, 10.26.3.
Homer, Iliad 3.203–207, 7.347–353; Apollodorus, Epitome, 5.21; Quintus Smyrnaeus, Posthomerica xiii.322–331, Livy, 1.1; Pausanias, 10.26.8, 27.3 ff.; Strabo, 13.1.53.
Apollodorus. Epitome 5.23.
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Apollodorus, Epitome 5.24.
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Apollodorus, Epitome 6.14.
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    Apollodorus, Apollodorus: The Library, translated by Sir James George Frazer, two volumes, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press and London: William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. Volume 1: ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Volume 2: ISBN 0-674-99136-2.
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    Euripides, Helen, in The Complete Greek Drama, edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. in two volumes. 1. Helen, translated by E. P. Coleridge. New York. Random House. 1938.
    Euripides, Hecuba, in The Complete Greek Drama, edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. in two volumes. 1. Hecuba, translated by E. P. Coleridge. New York. Random House. 1938.
    Herodotus, Histories, A. D. Godley (translator), Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920; ISBN 0-674-99133-8. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library].
    Pausanias, Description of Greece, (Loeb Classical Library) translated by W. H. S. Jones; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. (1918). Vol 1, Books I–II, ISBN 0-674-99104-4; Vol 2, Books III–V, ISBN 0-674-99207-5; Vol 3, Books VI–VIII.21, ISBN 0-674-99300-4; Vol 4, Books VIII.22–X, ISBN 0-674-99328-4.
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    Proclus, Proclus' Summary of the Epic Cycle, trans. Gregory Nagy.
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    Strabo, Geography, translated by Horace Leonard Jones; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann, Ltd. (1924)
    Burgess, Jonathan S. 2004. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle (Johns Hopkins). ISBN 0-8018-7890-X.
    Castleden, Rodney. The Attack on Troy. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword Books, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 1-84415-175-1).
    Davies, Malcolm (2000). "Euripides Telephus Fr. 149 (Austin) and the Folk-Tale Origins of the Teuthranian Expedition" (PDF). Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 133: 7–10.
    Durschmied, Erik. The Hinge Factor:How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History. Coronet Books; New Ed edition (7 Oct 1999).
    Frazer, Sir James George, Apollodorus: The Library, two volumes, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press and London: William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. Volume 1: ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Volume 2: ISBN 0-674-99136-2.
See C. Alexander, The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War (2009).
    Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths, Penguin (Non-Classics); Cmb/Rep edition (April 6, 1993). ISBN 0-14-017199-1.
    Kakridis, J., 1988. Ελληνική Μυθολογία ("Greek mythology"), Ekdotiki Athinon, Athens.
    Karykas, Pantelis, 2003. Μυκηναίοι Πολεμιστές ("Mycenean Warriors"), Communications Editions, Athens.
    Latacz, Joachim. Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery. New York: Oxford University Press (USA), 2005 (hardcover, ISBN 0-19-926308-6).
    Simpson, Michael. Gods & Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus, The University of Massachusetts Press, (1976). ISBN 0-87023-205-3.
    Strauss, Barry. The Trojan War: A New History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 0-7432-6441-X).
    Thompson, Diane P. The Trojan War: Literature and Legends from the Bronze Age to the Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-1737-4.
    Troy: From Homer's Iliad to Hollywood Epic, edited by Martin M. Winkler. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2007 (hardcover, ISBN 1-4051-3182-9; paperback, ISBN 1-4051-3183-7).
    Wood, Michael. In Search of the Trojan War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998 (paperback, ISBN 0-520-21599-0); London: BBC Books, 1985 (ISBN 0-563-20161-4).

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