One of the highlights of Greek mythology is the Trojan War described in the pages of The Iliad and The Odyssey, along with many pieces of Greek literature. The battle was fought between the Greeks and the Trojans. A lot of kingdoms took part in the war and supported Sparta, like Ithaca, Mycenae, Myrmidons, etc and it lasted for nine long years. Some of the greatest commanders in Greek mythology, Odysseus, Achilles, Agamemnon were on the Greek side, while the Trojans were led by Priam, Hector, and Paris. However, the Trojan War’s final outcome was influenced by the change in tactics from brute force to minor subterfuge and this was applicable for both sides.
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Plan of investigation
The two battling sides were equally strong with great leaders and also from immense support from the Gods of Greek mythology. Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae. Menelaus was his brother and the king of Mycenaean Sparta. He was the husband of Helen, and one of the central figures of the Trojan War. Achilles was the greatest hero in the Trojan War. He was the son of Thetis, a nymph, and Peleus, the king of Myrmidon. His body was armor itself thanks to his mother and his heel was the weakest point of his body. In mythology, it is said that he was being brought up by a wise centaur called Cheiron. During the war, he wore his father’s magical armor made up by the Gods, as well as the magic sword and the chariot which was drawn by the immortal horses called Xanthus and Balius. Odysseus (Ulysses in English) was the king of Ithaca (Burgess 59).
He was called upon by the Greeks as he was already considered a wise and cunning warrior. One of the most intelligent war heroes of his time Odysseus will be always remembered for the famous “Trojan Horse Trick” that change the course of the Trojan War forever (Wood 154).
On the other hand, Paris was the son of the Trojan king Priam and lived in Mount Ida with his wife Oenone, who was a mountain nymph. Paris abandoned her to get Helen. But Oenone said to Paris that if he is ever wounded in the war he must come to her to get healed. Helenus and Cassandra were his cousins who had the power of divine intervention, requested him not to go to Sparta, as they had foreseen the destruction follow Paris’s return. Paris became the guest of Menelaus and Helen. When Menelaus went to his grandfather’s funeral, they eloped leaving Helen’s daughter Hermione behind in Sparta. The Goddess Aphrodite made Helen fall in love with Paris.
Actually, as Paris had taken a bribe from Aphrodite to make her the fairest goddess, he had angered the other two competitors, Hera and Athena, against him and also against Troy. Again, Helen, had the most powerful generals came as her suitors and she married Menelaus. When she was gone, Menelaus called the others to wage war against the Trojans (Castleden 101). Here was one of the cunningness of Odysseus. He was also a suitor of Helen. When he saw all the powerful kings were asking for Helen’s hand he proposed that every suitor of Helen must be sworn by an oath that they would defend the person whom Helen marries, and anybody disobeying the oath would not be eligible to marry her. By the power of this oath, all the greatest generals, kings, and warriors of Greece stood behind Sparta in the battle. Before starting the war the Greeks sacrificed to all the Gods except Artemis, the hunting goddess. Apollo said that the war should last for ten long years. Artemis was angry and sent strong winds to stop the journey, and after Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter they could go. Telephus guided them in the sea (Graves 187).
During the battle, Agamemnon had a slave called Cherseis. Her father was the priest of Apollo and begged to return her. As Agamemnon refused Apollo sent a plague in the Greek army.
The ultimate strategy was the Trojan horse that at last allowed the Greeks to enter Troy and destroy the city. That made the end of the Trojan War. It was a long war and ultimately the war was won by the shrewd strategy of the Greek legend Odysseus (Durschmied 203).
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Summary of evidence
Classical literature is full of evidence of the Trojan War in different aspects. From Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to Virgil Aeneid, the writings of Herodotus, Pausaniuas, Proclus, Strabo, everywhere one can find examples of this war. Many modern-day authors have extensively worked on it like Erik Durschmied, Sir J.G. Frazer, and Jonathan Burgess, etc are pioneers in the Trojan War (Thompson 27).
Evaluation of sources
Samuel Butler’s translation of The Iliad is really a gem and it has the essence of the Classical Greek language. The lines below really match the impatience in the persons involved in the war: “Sons of Atreus,” he cried, “and all other Achaeans, may the gods who dwell in Olympus grant you to sack the city of Priam, and to reach your homes in safety; but free my daughter, and accept a ransom for her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Jove” (Homer 98).
The bereaved king Priam never blamed Helen and said:
“…..take your seat in front of me that you may see your former husband, your kinsmen, and your friends. I lay no blame upon you; it is the gods, not you who are to blame. It is they that have brought about this terrible war with the Achaeans” (Homer 187).
Or even when Odysseus proposed the making of the wooden horse that changed the course of the War: “Now shift your theme and sing that wooden horse. Epeios built, inspired by Athena…” (Homer 331).
The magic of the Classical Iliad is properly transmitted in the book with a lot of heart. The book is a completely relevant and believable document on both the Trojan War and the Iliad.
As with all the wars the Great Trojan War was not won by brute force but with the ultimate strategy-making powers by the Greeks. The involvement of Gods was also profound in the case as Paris from the very beginning made the two Goddess Hera and Athena his enemies and thus making the existence of Troy in danger. But in the final analysis, we cannot give much stress on divine intervention and focus on the mental strategy-making of the legendary warriors to swing fortunes in this colossal war (Latacz 86).
Mentioned in countless literary and artworks, the Trojan War is one of the vastly documented and widely researched events in mythology. It had formed the crux of Classical Greek literature and has really influenced later developments in literature.
Burgess, Jonathan. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle. London: Johns Hopkins, 2004.
Castleden, Rodney. The Attack on Troy. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword Books, 2006.
Durschmied, Erik. The Hinge Factor: How Chance and Stupidity Have Changed History. NY: Coronet Books, 1999.
Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. NY: Penguin, 1993.
Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Samuel, Butler. Auckland: BTL Press, 1971.
Latacz, Joachim. Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Thompson, Diane P. The Trojan War: Literature and Legends from the Bronze Age to the Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000.
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Wood, Michael. In Search of the Trojan War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.