The Trojan War: Fact or Fiction?

Updated: Aug 5

The story of the Trojan War is a real adventure! Woven and spun between battles are stories of bravery, fear, love, hatred and victory.


Background

According to Ancient Greek legend, Zeus, the chief god, married a goddess. However, to his dismay, an oracle (a prophet) informed him that his son would be mightier than he.


Angered, Zeus (also known as Jupiter) sent his son to earthy and forced him to marry a mere mortal. The couple had a son whom they named Achilles.


This is the context in which this long war started. Next, I want to explore some of the battles involved and how the dreadful war finally ended.



Hector farewells Andromache
Hector farewells Andromache

The Beginning


Fought between the Greeks and the Trojans, the Trojan War began when Paris, a Trojan Prince, kidnapped the beautiful wife of the King of Sparta, Helen. The King of Sparta, Menelaus, demanded that the Trojans return her to him, but they refused.


With that response, the King enticed his brother to lead an army against the city of Troy. The King of Sparta's brother, Agamemnon, was the king of Mycenae. Presently, troopships gathered at Aulis, led by some of the greatest Greek heroes.

To get favourable winds for the ships, Agamemnon tragically sacrificed his own daughter. However, the winds arrived nonetheless, and the fleet set sail for Troy.


For nine years, the Greeks pillaged the cities and countryside surrounding Troy, but the city itself, well fortified and commanded by Hector himself, held firmly. Nine years of the men's lives were wasted – all because a young, proud, reckless prince kidnapped Queen Helen.

There were many smaller battles within the long war. An oracle (a prophecy) was believed to have said that the earliest man to leap ashore on Trojan land would be the first to die.


Protesilaus, a Greek prince, took this burden upon himself and was later shot by an arrow during a skirmish with Prince Hector.


Nine Long Years


After this first engagement, the Greeks quickly drove back the Trojan forces, who were not prepared for such a great army. After that, there were no real battles for a full nine years because the Greeks knew very little of siege warfare. And the Trojans – ruled by an old king and a council of old men – for the most part, remained inside their walls. They were not willing to venture outside to attack.

In the ninth year, internal conflict began to arise in the Greek camp. Agamemnon and Achilles became angry at one another, and, ultimately, Achilles proclaimed that he would no longer fight for the Greeks.


As the story goes, Thetis, Achilles' immortal mother, prevailed upon Zeus, on the behalf of Achilles, to punish Agamemnon by making the Trojans beat the Greeks until he was forced to apologise to Achilles.


Achilles had a friend who was very dear to him. His name was Patroclus.


Patroclus tried to persuade Achilles to fight because only he was capable of turning the tide of the battle, but Achilles refused. So Patroclus went to the battle dressed in Achilles' armour.


He was killed by Hector.


It was the last straw for Achilles, who changed his mind promptly.

This was just one of many battles fought during the long war.

The Trojans bring the wooden horse into their city
The Trojans bring the wooden horse into their city

The Trojan Horse


The Trojan War ended in quite an unusual fashion (as you may have heard).


Odysseus, a leader in the Greek army, disguised himself as a beggar to get into the city of Troy. When he was in the temple, Odysseus stole the Luck of Troy, which was a black object in which the Trojans took strength and comfort.


When they found the Luck stolen, the Trojans felt that their last hope was gone.

A few days later though, Achilles himself was killed by Paris – shot in the ankle with an arrow. In turn, Paris was killed by a Greek poison arrow.

One day, however, Odysseus had an idea. The plan was to get into the city by making a wooden horse and hiding brave fighters in it.


Once the horse had been completed, the Greek forces "withdrew" from Troy.


Believing they had won the battle, the Trojans took the wooden horse into their city.


The Greek men inside, letting the other Greeks (who had promptly returned) in through the gate, comprehensively destroyed the city.


They brought Helen back safely to her rightful husband.

Thus ended the Trojan war.


While the story is a thrilling one, the tragedy is that so many people were killed. It started with Paris kidnapping Helen. Then, many battles followed. And, ultimately, the Greeks completely obliterated Troy.


The most difficult question to answer, however, is what parts of the legend were fact and which were fiction? Sadly, we'll probably never know for sure.

 

This post was written by Deeni Mitchell and edited by Cody Mitchell

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