The Trojan War A look at “The Iliad,” Homer’s literary version of the events surrounding the Trojan War.
The Apple of Discord • Roots of the Trojan War- began at the marriage between Thetis and Peleus. • Thetis: a sea nymph and future mother of Achilles • Peleus: chosen for Thetis by the gods because they feared a prophecy that said her child would be greater than Cronus. He was a mortal man, therefore not as great a threat.
In attendance were mortals, gods, and goddesses; however, the couple purposefully did not invite Eris, the goddess of discord, to the celebration. Angered and outraged, she came to the wedding anyway. • Upon her arrival, Eris tossed a golden apple onto a banquet table and stated that it would belong to the fairest person in attendance.
They were… Hera: • Daughter of Cronus and Rhea • Zeus’s wife and sister • Worshipped as goddess of marriage and birth • Queen of the gods • Sacred animal: peacock (symbolic of her pride)
Athena • Perceived as a threat by Zeus. He swallowed her as an infant; however, she was later born as a full-grown woman. • Became Zeus’s favorite daughter by his first wife, Metis • Goddess of wisdom and arms • Accompanied by the goddess of victory, Nike
Aphrodite • Zeus’s supposed, adopted daughter • Goddess of love (lust) and beauty • Created from the removed genitals of Uranus at the hands of Cronus
Who won out? • All three goddesses appealed to Zeus for the apple. • He knew better than to choose among them. • He placed the decision on Paris, the prince of Troy and the most “beautiful man alive.”
Fair Fight? • Although the decision was supposed to be made without prejudice, all of the goddesses pled their cases to Paris and offered him a gift if they were the winner (chosen to be the “fairest of them all”).
Hera • Offered him power
Athena • Bribed him with wealth
Aphrodite • Promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world
After a lengthy assessment, Paris chose Aphrodite. • He was, in return, granted the hand of Helen, the wife of Menelaus of Sparta. • Helen was known around the world for her beauty. Men fell instantly in love / lust with her. • She was a mortal daughter of Zeus that had been created from the former’s union with Leda, while in the form of a swan.
The Theft • Against the advice of his sister, Cassandra, Paris set off on a voyage to Sparta. When he arrived, he announced himself as an ambassador from Troy and was treated with great hospitality by the king, Menelaus. • Shortly after receiving his visitor, the king had to attend a funeral in another land. Paris kidnapped Helen, along with a great deal of the country’s wealth. • Oddly enough, the couple was married only a few days after returning to Troy.
What’s a husband to do? • Menelaus, angered by the indecency, gathered together Helen’s former suitors. • Each one of these men had pledged an oath to her father, Tyndarecus, protect her before her husband was chosen. • Odysseus, protagonist of The Odyssey, was among the men and went to Troy with Menelaus to demand Helen’s return. When they were denied, it became clear that war was the only means of resolve.
Rallying the Troops • Helen was indeed a beautiful woman; in fact, there is a phrase associated with her. She was said to have had the face “that launched a thousand ships.” • In addition to Odysseus, several other notable heroes went to seek her return including: Achilles, Ajax, and Hercules.
After collecting a massive army, Menelaus chose Agamemnon to be the commanding general. • All seemed to be well until one of the men killed a stag in the forest of the goddess, Diana. • Highly angered and blaming Agamemnon, she vowed that she would not let the wind blow until a sacrifice was made. • A seer named Calchas proclaimed that he must sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to calm the fury of the goddess. • Seeing this was the only way to launch his ships, he agreed; the young girl was executed on an alter. As her blood trickled on the alter, the wind began to blow.
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! • It took a long time for the army to finally land on the beaches of Troy. • They might never have gotten there without the help of Telephus, who had been wounded by Achilles. • The oracle at Delphi had prophesied that only the man who wounded him could heal him. • Achilles agreed to heal Telephus in exchange for information about the whereabouts of Troy.
An appeal to the king… • Once again, Menelaus went to Priam, king of Troy, and asked for Helen’s return. • They were refused yet again.
The Trojan War • This event lasted for ten years. • During this time, many lives were lost as the battling countries fought to see who should keep Helen.
Notable Deaths: • Patroclus: brother (rumored friend) of Achilles, killed by Hector (son of Priam and leader of the Trojan army). • Hector: killed by Achilles. His body was mutilated and dragged behind a chariot. • Achilles: killed by Paris after being shot in the ankle with an arrow. After his death, Odysseus and Ajax fought over his armor. • Ajax: went insane and killed himself after losing in combat to Odysseus.
Toward the end of the war… • Odysseus came up with a plot to get inside Troy. • He built an enormous horse and placed it outside the gates of the city. • Inside of the horse, a squad of men were hidden. • The Trojans, thinking this was a symbol of defeat, brought the structure inside the walls. • It was said that Athena aided Odysseus in this plot because she was still angry that she had not been chosen to receive the golden apple.
Conclusion of the War • After Sinon helped the horse to enter the gates of Troy, the men inside waited until nightfall. • As the Trojans slept, the Spartans climbed out of the structure and slew the sleeping city’s populace.
After the War • Menelaus: wanted to kill his wife, Helen, for her alleged infidelity; however, he was charmed by her and allowed her to live. • Odysseus set sail to return home to his wife and child, Telemachus. It is at this point that ….