The Trojan War – Summary

The Trojan war is one of the most important events in Greek mythology. The war was carried out against the city of Troy by the Greeks after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband the King of Sparta also known as Menelaus. The war commenced after a dispute between the goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. Eris the goddess of discord and strife gave them a golden apple also known as the Apple of Discord whom the “fairest” was to claim.

The goddesses were sent to Paris by Zeus and Aphrodite was determined the “fairest”. Aphrodite made the beautiful Helen fall in love with Paris who then took her to Troy. The King of Mycaene also known as Agamemnon and the brother of Menelaus led a campaign of troops to Troy and the city was besieged for ten years because Paris’s insult. The Trojans were slaughtered by the Greeks and desecrated the temples which in turn earned them the god’s wrath.

The Trojan War events are found in many works of Greek literature and Art. The Trojan War is assembled by a number of sources and in which some of them state contradictory accounts of the event. Two poems The Illaid and the Odyssey which were composed by Homer between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. The Illaid includes the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey covers Odysseus’s return to Ithaca his home island, following the sack of Troy. Zeus had become King of the gods by overpowering his Cronus his father. Cronus in turn had overpowered his own father Uranus. Zeus had not been faithful to his wife and sister Hera and had many children out of these relationships.

Zeus came to learn that one of his own sons would overturn him, another prophecy stated that a son of the sea-nymph Thetis which Zeus fell in love with after admiring her in the oceans off the Greek coast would become even greater than his father. Thetis was then betrothed to an elderly human king, Peleus whom was son of Aiakos, either because she wished to please Hera whom had raised her or upon Zeus’ orders. Peleus and Thetis invited all of the gods who brought many gifts.

All except Eris whom was stopped by Hermes at the door on Zeus’ order. Eris took insult to this and threw a golden apple as a gift which had the words inscribed “to the fairest”. Athena, Hera and Aphrodite argued sorely over it and the gods were careful not to favour opinions. Zeus ordered Hermes to lead all three of the goddesses to Paris, a prince of Troy who was being raised as a shepherd in Mount Ida. The goddesses appeared to him naked, Paris was unable to decide between them, they then resorted to bribes.

Paris was offered wisdom and skill in battle by Athena. Political power and control of all of Asia was offered by Hera, and the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta was offered by Aphrodite. The historical events of the Trojan War is still subject to contention as most of the classical Greeks thought that the war was an event in history but many believed that the poems of Homer were exaggerated to create appeal.

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