THE TROJAN WAR: MYTHOLOGICAL BACKGROUND
1. The Marriage of Peleus (a mortal) and Thetis (a sea nymph).
* Prometheus foretold that Thetis' son would be greater than his father, so Jupiter decreed that Thetis should marry a mortal.
a. All the gods and goddesses were invited except Eris (or Discord).
b. Angered the Goddess (Eris) threw a golden apple among the guests, with the inscription: "For the Fairest".
c. Juno, Venus, and Minerva all claimed the apple.
* Not willing to make a decision, Jupiter sent them to Mount Ida where Paris, the son of Priam, king of Troy, was tending his flocks for a decision.
2. The Judgment of Paris:
a. Each goddess makes a promise:
Juno: power and riches.
Minerva: glory and renown in war.
Venus: the fairest of women for his wife.
b. Paris decided in favor of Venus, thus making the other two goddesses his enemies.
3. Under the protection of Venus, Paris traveled to Greece where he was received by Menelaus, the king of Sparta, whose wife Helen was destined to be his prize.
* Helen had been sought by numerous suitors who at the suggestion of Ulysses, son of Laertes, King of Ithaca, had taken an oath to accept her decision and to avenge any wrong done to her.
4. Paris made love to Helen and, aided by Venus, persuaded her to leave with him for Troy.
5. Menelaus sent out a call to all the Greek chieftains to aid him in recovering his wife.
a. All came forward with a few exceptions.
b. Ulysses, happy with his wife Penelope, pretended to be mad.
1. Palamedes placed Ulysses' son Telemachus in front of a plow.
2. Ulysses turned the plow away proving his sanity and agreed to go and to also help in bringing Achilles.
c. Thetis knew that her son, Achilles, was fated to perish before Troy.
1. She sent him to the court of King Lycomedes of the island of Scyros.
2. Achilles was persuaded to disguise himself as a maiden among the king's daughters.
3. Ulysses went to the king's court as a merchant offering jewelry for sale. Arms had been placed among the jewelry which Achilles handled showing he was Achilles and he agreed to join his countrymen in the war.
6. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and brother of Menelaus, was chosen commander and chief.
Principal Greek Warriors: Achilles, Ajax, Diomede, Ulysses, and Nestor.
7. Priam, King of Troy and son of Laomedon.
Principal Trojan Warriors: Hector, son of Priam; Aeneas, Deiphobus, Glaucus, and Sarpedon.
Iphigenia in Aulis:
1. After two years of preparation, the Greek fleet and army assembled in the port of Aulis in Boetia.
a. Agamemnon had killed a stag that was sacred to Diana.
b. The goddess visited the army with pestilence and produced a calm which prevented the fleet from sailing.
2. Calchas the soothsayer announced the anger of the virgin goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a virgin (only the daughter of Agamemnon would be acceptable).
3. Agamemnon sent for his daughter, Iphigenia, telling her that her marriage to Achilles was to be performed at once.
a. At the moment of sacrifice, Diana snatched the maiden away and left a hind (a female deer).
b. Iphigenia, enveloped in a cloud, was taken to Tauris, where Diana made her priestess of her Temple.
Protesilaus and Laodamia:
1. The wind arose and the Greek fleet sailed to the coast of Troy.
2. The Greek landing was met by the Trojans were Hector killed Protesilaus.
3. Laodamia, the wife of Protesilaus, asked the gods permission to talk with her husband for three hours.
Her request was granted and Mercury led Protesilaus to the upper world.
4. When Protesilaus died a second time Laodamia died with him.
It is said that nymphs planted elm trees round his grave, which flourished till they were high enough to command a view of Troy, then withered away, giving place to fresh branches that sprang from the roots.
Homer's Iliad: The war continued without decisive result for nine years. Then an event occurred which seemed likely to prove fatal to the cause of the Greeks, -------- a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. It is at this point that the great poem of Homer, the Iliad begins.
The Wrath of Achilles:
1. Unsuccessful against Troy, the Greeks had taken neighboring and allied cities.
a. Division of the Spoil: Chryseis, daughter of Chryses, priest of Apollo, - had been given to Agamemnon.
b. Agamemnon refused Chryses' request for the release of his daughter.
* The priest asked for the aid of Apollo who sent a plague against the Greeks.
2. A Council was called:
a. Achilles accused Agamemnon of being the cause of their misfortune.
b. Agamemnon agreed to release Chryseis, but demanded Briseis, a maiden who had been given to Achilles, be handed over to him.
3. Achilles agreed but declared his intention to take no further action in the war, to withdraw his troops, and return to Greece.
The Enlistment of the Gods:
The Greeks: Juno, Minerva, Neptune
The Trojans: Venus who enlisted the aid of Mars.
* Apollo remained neutral helping one side then the other.
* Jupiter tried to remain impartial but there were exceptions.
Thetis Intercedes for Achilles:
* Thetis appealed to Jupiter to grant success to Trojan arms for the insult to her son. Jupiter finally agreed, but warned her not to be seen by his wife, Juno.
Agamemnon Calls a Council:
1. Agamemnon deceived by a dream sent by Jupiter calls for a Council of the Greeks.
2. Attempting to arose them to fight the Trojans again, he tells them of the joy they will feel on their return seeing their native lands and families.
3. Nestor and especially Ulysses aware that the common soldier inspired by such a hope would have launched the ships prevented a revolt of arms desiring retreat.
4. The a banquet of the Greek chieftains is held after which the Greeks prepare for battle.
Paris Plays the Champion:
1. Paris steps from the Trojan ranks to challenge one of the Greeks in single combat.
2. Menelaus whom he betrayed leaped forward to accept the challenge.
3. Paris overcome by his own treachery hides among the Trojans.
Hector, the noblest of Priam's sons, persuades Paris to consent to meet Menelaus in formal combat between the opposing armies.
Helen and the wealth she brought was to be the prize.
4. The Greeks accept the proposal, and a truce is agreed upon so that sacrifices may be made on either side for victory.
5. Menelaus Defeats Paris:
a. Paris throws his spear: it strikes but does not penetrate the shield of Menelaus.
b. Menelaus then strikes the helmet of Paris, and seizes him by the horsehair crest of his helmet.
* As he drags Paris to the Grecian lines, Venus touches the strap of Paris'' helmet and frees him.
* Venus then wraps Paris in a Mist and carries him safely to Helen's bed chamber.
c. The Greeks claim victory: the fate of Troy would have been averted if the Trojans had met the terms of the agreement.
6. Juno and Minerva: they did not want the hated city of Troy to survive.
a. Prompted by Minerva, Pandarus, one of the Trojans, breaks the truce by shooting an arrow at Menelaus which Minerva deflects.
b. The battle which then began lasted for two whole days.
Neptune Aids the Discouraged Greeks:
1. Hector, returning to the field, challenged the bravest of the Greeks to combat.
a. Nine accept the challenge, but the task fell to Ajax, the son of Telamon.
b. The duel lasted until night, and the heroes parted testifying to the worth of the other.
2. The next day a truce was declared for the burning of the dead, but when the battle began again he Greeks were driven back to their trenches by the might of Hector and his troops.
3. Agamemnon called another Council of his chiefs.
a. Some seriously proposed sailing home to Greece.
b. Nestor proposed an embassy should be sent to Achilles to persuade him to return to the field.
* Agamemnon should give up the maiden, the cause of the dispute, and enough gifts to make up for the wrong he had done.
* Agamemnon agreed.
c. Ulysses, Ajax, and Phoenix were sent to carry the message to Achilles.
* Achilles refused to return to battle and stated his determination to return to Greece.
4. The next day another battle was fought: The Trojans, favored by Jupiter, forced a passage through the Grecian defenses.
a. The Trojans were about to set fire to the Greek ships when Neptune intervened.
b. Neptune appeared in form of the prophet Calchas -- having inspired the Greeks, they forced the Trojans back.
* In the process: Hector was wounded and carried off by his followers.
c. Juno distracted Jupiter away from the battle aided by the Cestus, Venus' girdle (belt) which one could not resist.
d. When Jupiter saw the wounded Hector, he dismissed Juno and ordered her to send Iris and Apollo to him.
1. Iris took a message to Neptune ordering him to leave the battle.
2. Apollo was sent to heal the wounds of Hector.
e. Hector returned to battle and Neptune departed.
Achilles and Patroclus:
1. An arrow from the bow of Paris had wounded Machaon, son of Aesculapius, who was of great value to the Greeks as their surgeon.
2. Nestor took Machaon from the field.
a. As they passed Achilles' ships, Achilles could not recognize who was wounded.
b. Achilles sent Patroclus, his companion and dearest friend, to the tent of Nestor to inquire.
c. Nestor and Patroclus: Attempt to persuade Achilles back to their cause or at least send his soldiers. You should come in the armor of Achilles whose very sight might drive the Trojans back (if Achilles would not come).
3. Patroclus in the Armor of Achilles:
a. Patroclus told his price the sad state of affairs: Ulysses, Agamemnon, Machaon were all wounded, the rampart broken down, the enemy among the ships preparing to burn them.
b. Achilles intrusted Patroclus with the Myrmidons and the loan of his armor.
* Warning: Content yourself with only repelling the enemy.
c. With their arrival, the Greeks succeeded in driving the Trojans back.
The Deaths of Sarpedon and Patroclus:
1. The grandson of Bellerphon, Sarpedon, son of Jupiter and Laodamia, ventured to oppose the Greek Warrior.
* Jupiter would have snatched him from his impending fate, but Juno hinted that if he did so, the other inhabitants of heaven might intervene whenever their children were in danger.
2. Sarpedon threw his spear missing Patroclus, but the Greek's spear pierced Sarpedon's breast.
* Sarpedon called to his friends to save his body from the enemy.
3. The Greeks succeeded in stripping Sarpedon of his armor: Jupiter intervened.
* Apollo was ordered to snatch the body from the field and commit it to the care of the twin brothers Death and Sleep.
4. Hector then confronted Patroclus: Patroclus threw a huge stone missing Hector, but hitting Cebriones.
a. Hector leaped from his chariot to rescue his friend, but was met by Patroclus.
b. Homer: Phoebus Apollo, taking part against Patroclus, struck the helmet from his head, and the lance from his hand.
* At the same moment an obscure Trojan wounded him in the back, and Hector pierced him with his spear. He fell mortally wounded.
5. Conflict for the body of Patroclus:
a. Hector immediately took possession of Achilles' armor and put it on.
b. Ajax and Menelaus defended the body, while Hector and his warriors attempted to capture it.
c. Ajax sent Antilochus to Achilles to inform him of Patroclus' death and the situation on the battle field.
* The Greeks finally succeeded in removing Patroclus' body to their ships closely pursued by Hector and Aeneas.
The Remorse of Achilles:
1. When Achilles heard the fate of his friend, his groans reached the ears of Thetis - far down in the ocean where she lived.
a. Thetis found him full of remorse - with the hope that he might avenge him.
b. She made him promise to wait until tomorrow, so she could obtain a suit of armor from Vulcan more than equal to that he had lost.
2. On hearing Thetis' request, Vulcan put aside his work and made a suit of armor for Achilles.
3. The Armor was made in one night, and Thetis placed it at Achilles' feet the next morning.
4. The Reconciliation of Agamemnon and Achilles:
a. Achilles called a Council of the Greek Chiefs: he renounced his displeasures of Agamemnon and the problems that followed.
* With prophetic words, he warned the hero, Hector, of his approaching doom.
* Hector, cautioned by Apollo, remained removed from the scene.
b. Apollo, in the form of Lycaon, one of Priam's sons, urged Aeneas to meet Achilles.
* Neptune took pity on Aeneas and lifted the Trojan from the ground and took him to the rear of the battle.
5. The Death of Hector:
a. When the rest of the Trojans had escaped Hector stood determined to await combat.
b. Priam called to him from the walls, begging him to retreat.
* Then at the sight of Achilles Hector's heart failed and he fled.
c. The two heroes circled the walls of Troy three times, as often as Hector approached the walls, Achilles forced him away from them.
d. Then Pallas (Minerva) assuming the form of Deiphobus, Hector's bravest brother, appeared to him.
* Strengthened at this sight, Hector turned to meet Achilles throwing his spear which fell from the Shield of Achilles.
* Hector turned to Deiphobus who was not there: he realized he had been deceived by Pallas and rushed forward to meet his fate.
e. Achilles threw his spear delivering a mortal wound.
Hector feebly said, "Spare my body! Let my parents ransom it, and let me receive funeral rites from the sons and daughters of Troy." To which Achilles replied, "Dog, name not ransom nor pity to me, on whom you have brought such dire distress. No! trust me, naught shall save thy carcass from the dogs. Though twenty ransoms and thy weight in gold were offered, I should refuse it all."
(Ex. the Iliad)
Achilles Drags the Body of Hector:
1. Achilles tied the body of Hector to his chariot and dragged him before the city.
* The sound of mourning reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector.
* Picturing her country ruined, herself a captive, and her son, the youthful Astyanax, dependent on the charity of others.
2. Achilles then turned his attention to the funeral rites of his friend, Patroclus.
a. The body of Patroclus was burned and then followed a funeral banquet.
b. Achilles could neither feast nor sleep.
3. Before dawn Achilles left his tent and dragged the body of Hector twice around the tomb of Patroclus.
a. Apollo would not allow the body to be disfigured and preserved it.
b. Jupiter ordered Thetis to prevail upon Achilles to restore the body of Hector to the Trojans.
c. Jupiter then sent Iris to encourage Priam to attempt to ransom his son's body from Achilles.
4. Priam In the Tent of Achilles:
a. Jupiter sent Mercury to be Priam's guide and protector.
b. At Achilles' Tent: Mercury put the guards to sleep and Priam entered the tent.
c. Achilles was moved by Priam's words and granted his request.
d. Achilles pledged a truce of twelve days for funeral rites.
e. For nine days the people brought wood and built the pile; on the tenth day the body was burned.
"Such honors Ilium to her hero paid, and peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade."
(Ex. the Iliad)
* The story of the Iliad ends with the death of Hector, and it is from the Odyssey and later poems that we learn the fate of Troy and the other heroes.
The Fall of Troy:
1. Receiving aid from new allies, Troy continued its resistance.
a. One of these allies was Memnon, the Ethiopian prince.
b. Another was Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, who came with a band of female warriors.
* Penthesilea, having slain many of the bravest Greeks, was slain by Achilles.
2. The Death of Achilles:
a. Achilles having seen Polyxena, daughter of King Priam, was captivated by her and desired to marry her.
b. Achilles agreed to influence the Greeks to make peace with Troy.
c. While Achilles was in the temple of Apollo negotiating the marriage, Paris shot a poisoned arrow, which, guided by Apollo, fatally wounded him in the heel.
* This was his only vulnerable spot; for Thetis, having dipped him when an infant in the river Styx, had made him invulnerable except that part by which she held him.
3. Contest for the Arms of Achilles:
a. The body of Achilles was rescued by Ajax and Ulysses.
b. Thetis directed the Greeks to give the armor to the hero who was judged most deserving.
* Ajax and Ulysses were the only claimants.
* By the will of Minerva: the armor was awarded to Ulysses - judging wisdom greater than valor.
c. Ajax leaving his tent and swearing vengeance upon the Atridae and Ulysses.
* Minerva robbed him of reason and he turned against the flocks and herds of the Greeks which he slaughtered or led captive to his tent.
* The goddess restored his reason and he killed himself.
4. The Arrows of Hercules:
a. It was learned that Troy could only be taken with the aid of Hercules' arrows.
b. Philoctetes, the friend who had lighted Hercules' funeral pyre, had them.
1. He had joined the Grecian expedition against Troy, but had accidentally wounded his foot with one of the arrows.
2. The smell from the wound was so offensive that Philoctetes was carried off to the island of Lemnos and left there.
c. Diomede and Ulysses/ or Ulysses and Neoptolemus (son of Achilles) were sent to persuade him to rejoin them.
* He agreed and was cured by Machaon, and Paris was the first victim of the fatal arrows.
5. The Palladium:
a. There was in Troy a celebrated statue of Minerva called the Palladium.
b. It was said to have fallen from heaven, and the belief was that the city could not be taken so long as this statue remained within the city.
c. Ulysses and Diomede entered the city and carried off the Palladium to the Grecian Camp.
6. The Wooden Horse:
a. Troy continued to hold out until they accepted (the Greeks) advice of Ulysses (the art of Minerva).
b. The Greeks pretended to make preparations to abandon the siege: a number of ships were withdrawn to a neighboring island, Tenedos.
c. A huge wooden horse was constructed which the Greeks said was an offering to Minerva.
1. The Greeks sailed off and the Trojans entered the Greek camp.
2. The Wooden Horse: some recommended it be taken into the city, others were afraid of it.
d. Laocoon, priest of Neptune: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.
* Hoping his warning would lead to the destruction of the horse.
e. Sinon: A Greek captive who claimed he had been left behind by Ulysses.
1. He (Sinon) informed them that the Horse was an offering to Minerva, and it had been built so huge to prevent it from being taken into the city.
2. Sinon said that Calchas the prophet had informed the Greeks that if the Trojans gained possession of the horse, they would triumph over the Greeks.
7. Laocoon and the Serpents:
a. An Omen: Two immense serpents advanced directly to the place where Laocoon stood with his two sons.
b. The serpents strangled him and his children.
c. The people took this as a sign of the displeasure of the gods, and took the horse inside the city.
1. Sinon let out the Greeks inclosed in the horse,and opened the gates of the city to the Greeks who had returned during the night.
2. The city was set on fire and people were put to the sword. (Troy was completely destroyed.)
The Departure From Troy: Aeneas
1. Aeneas, the son of Venus and Anchises, made his escape with his father and son, Ascanius, and his wife, Creusa.
* In the confusion Creusa was lost.
* In two visions (Creusa and Hector) Aeneas learned it was his destiny to be the founder of a New Troy (ie. Rome).
2. A number of Trojans were found who placed themselves under his leadership.
* Some months were spent in preparation, and finally they departed. Thus begins Vergil's Aeneid.