Why Was The Trojan War Important

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Why Was The Trojan War Important



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The Trojan War - Myth or Fact

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The story of the Trojan War is one of the foundational myths of Western culture. The Iliad is set in the 10th year of the war, the Odyssey in the aftermath as its hero, Odysseus, spends 10 more years trying to get home. These epics are both stories of men and each one begins with an appeal to tell the story of the hero. And yet, Achilles is not the first character mentioned in this poem — the first person referred to in the Iliad is a goddess, presumably the divine muse, Calliope, who has a particular interest in epic poetry.

Women are woven into the fabric of the Trojan War just as much as the male heroes who get top billing. She is not born Helen of Troy, rather she becomes it when she elopes or is taken depending on the version of the myth we read by Paris, a Trojan prince. Helen begins her life as Helen of Sparta, after the city in southern Greece. She is the daughter of Zeus — king of the gods — and Leda, queen of Sparta. The common perception of her informed by authors from Homer to Marlowe as destructively beautiful hers was the face that launched a thousand ships overlooks important elements of her story. Helen is kidnapped as a child by king Theseus the mythical founder of Athens , many years after his minotaur-killing.

It is one of his less heroic exploits even ancient authors, whose attitudes to sex were very different from our own, were uncomfortable about a man in his fifties taking a child bride. In some versions of the story, Helen bears Theseus a child before she is returned home to Sparta. When she is older, Helen marries the king of Sparta, Menelaus. Then Paris turns up and takes her willingly or unwillingly — again, it depends on the version of the story we read back with him to Troy.

Menelaus and the Greeks are outraged and pursue her with more than a thousand ships — Homer lists nearly 1, in the Iliad. This poem presents us with a Helen who regrets that Paris is not a better man and reproaches herself for her own behaviour. Helen then issues a spirited defence of herself, pointing out the undeniable truth — that Hecuba blames Helen for the war, rather than her own son, Paris. The queen of Troy is a survivor, a devastated widow and mother to many murdered sons, and a terrible example of the brutality of war. This final trauma is too much for Hecuba to bear, and she commits one of the most horrifying acts of revenge in all Greek tragedy and, possibly, in all theatre.

Hecuba and her women kill the two children of Polymestor, the man who has killed her son. Then they pull out his eyes with brooch pins. It is a breathtakingly brutal response — the last thing this treacherous man will ever see is the murder of his sons in revenge for his own vicious crime. Modern theatre productions often struggle to show a woman doing something so unmaternal, indeed anti-maternal, as kill children there is a tendency for them to imply the women are mad, which is not in the Greek text. But while it is a shocking scene, it is also an extraordinary one. A group of enslaved war-widows taking revenge on one Greek man and his children for all the sons, husbands and freedoms they themselves have lost.

Women using knives to kill children is a particularly macabre distortion of the norms of combat men killing other men with sword and spear-blades in the war which has just come to an end. In fact, these norms have already been subverted in the final year of the war, when the Amazons arrive. Penthesilea and her warrior women turn up to fight alongside the Trojans against the Greeks. The Amazons were fascinating to ancient artists. They are the most frequently-painted characters found on Greek pots after Heracles or Hercules, to give him his more common Roman name. The idea of female warriors was both compelling and troubling to ancient audiences — war was and still is a traditionally masculine sphere. However, the images of fallen Amazons being carried off the battlefield by their combatants, the Greeks, are beautiful, which is not the way fallen enemies are usually treated, either in poems or in the visual arts.

They were clearly admired. The Aegean Sea separated the feuding cities. The forces against Troy, Sparta and Greece, had to meet and travel together in order to reach the city at the same time. While the Spartans were traveling the Greek fleet was gathering at Aulis on the eastern coast of Greece near Thebes. Using a map from Nagle and Burnstein and basic calculations it was determined that the distance between Aulis and Troy was roughly KM, and that was only if they were able to travel straight from Aulis to Troy. They were not able to do this however because there was an island blocking the way they had to sail around, increasing the travel time.

This means that Troy was not very far inland and the men did not have to go very far on foot. By using sea travel, the forces were able to arrive at their rally point faster. Although they had the disadvantage of being the ones to travel so very far from their home land they were able to start fighting almost right away. The men used a smart strategy by having a large group of naval ships to make themselves look like they carried more forces.

What also made this a smart strategy was again the idea that they did not waste any energy traveling unnecessarily by land. There was a slower start to the war and extreme methods were used in order to proceed. Due to whatever reasons Menelaus had for keeping his men fighting for ten years, it clearly put a strain on the men. Instead of fighting for their King they had to switch to a survival mode in order to last the ten years. Without the eagerness in the men themselves the army would not be able to survive and therefore they would have had to forfeit the war and return home defeated unless they did what was necessary. The fact that they had to spend their time farming their way through the ten years, is a factor all in itself.

When the army needed something that could not be farmed they would raid houses and towns to survive. All this was in the name of the King and his fight. If the men did not have the nutrition necessary to fight they would have given into the equal strength of the Trojans. The Trojan Horse was accepted as a gift and signal of surrender. Crystal Links. The third and final factor of the Trojan War was the idea that the Trojans and the Spartans were matched enemies who fought with each other until a winner was declared by means of an amazing feat of smart strategy. Troy had a hidden strength that allowed them to fight effectively without the Greeks knowing. It could have been used to get the men from point A to point B in a quicker amount of time than by foot.

Not only did it give them a faster and more efficient method of way of transportation, it gave them cover as it was underground and they would be protected by any of the advances of the Greeks. It also would give the appearance that there were less men ready to fight. The Trojans kept it concealed in order to protect its location and the men inside from an ambush and potential devastating attack. The story behind the Trojan Horse goes like this; the horse was built by the men in roughly three days. It was given to the Trojans as a sign of surrender but had many Greek men hidden inside of it. The Trojans took the bait and proceeded to drink and celebrate the final win against the Greeks.

However, as they were all in a drunken somber the Greeks snuck out of the horse, letting in the rest of the army and leading the final battle which declared the Greeks the winner of the Trojan wars. The Horse was shown to be a valuable method which led to the completion of the Trojan Wars after a very long ten years. This ultimately came back to haunt him. When Agamemnon returned victorious from the Trojan War, he was murdered in his bath by Clytemnestra, his vengeful wife. Ultimately, Agamemnon was forced to return Briseis. Ajax the Lesser raping Cassandra in front of the sacred statue of Athena. Commanded a fleet of 40 ships to Troy.

Famous for his agility. Consequently killed by either Athena or Poseidon on his return home. Along with Diomedes he first captured the famous horses of Rhesus and then the Palladium statue. Most famous for his innovative plan to capture Troy with the wooden horse. At the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus angered the god Poseidon with his hubristic attitude, signalling the start of his most famous venture: The Odyssey. Son of Priam and Hecuba; brother of Hector. Depicted as an archer rather than a melee fighter in the Iliad to epitomise his contrasting persona to the noble Hector archers were considered cowardly.

Killed in the later stages of the Trojan War by Philoctetes, though not before he had killed Achilles. Diomedes, King of Argos — Roman copy of a statue by Kresilas from c. Glyptothek, Munich. King of Argos; a famous warrior who was honour bound to join the expedition of Menelaus to Troy. Brought the second-largest contingent of all the Greek commanders to Troy 80 ships. He slew many important enemies, including the legendary Thracian king Rhesus. He also overwhelmed Aeneas, but was unable to land the killing blow due to divine intervention from Aphrodite.

Injured two gods during the fighting: Ares and Aphrodite. Alongside Odysseus, Diomedes was famous for his cunning and swiftness of foot. Returned to Argos after the Trojan War to discover his wife had been unfaithful. Departed Argos and travelled to southern Italy where, according to myth, he founded several cities. Ajax fought Hector in several duels of varying outcomes including one where Hector forced Ajax to flee. Following the fall of Achilles and the retrieval of his body, a debate ensued between the generals as to who should receive his armour.

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