The Trojan War is one of the most important events in the ancient Middle-Earth that has influenced countless people through the centuries. Homer's masterpieces, the Odyssey and the Iliad are highly influenced by the Trojan War. According to the mythological versions, some of the Greek gods also played key roles in the story of Troy.
The Trojan War has been described by the scholars as a romantic war. There are several versions of the story of Troy. The most common version or the most believed version actually begins during the wedding of Thetis, a sea-nymph or sea-goddess and Peleus who according to Zeus was the most worthy person among the mortals and was also the son of Aeacus. Thetis and Peleus invited all the Gods and Goddesses to the wedding except Eris, the Goddess of discord. A furious Eris threw an apple in the wedding ceremony, thus disturbing the ceremony. The apple was made of gold and is referred to as the Apple of Discord in Greek mythology. The words "For the Fairest" were engraved on the apple. The three most beautiful Goddesses at the wedding quarreled over the apple. Hera, the sister and wife of Zeus, Athena, the Goddess of heroism and Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty, each claimed the apple. They requested Zeus, the King of Gods and the ruler of Olympus to judge the rightful claimer of the apple. Zeus, who was uninterested in the matter, directed them to Prince Paris, who he said would decide the winner of the Golden Apple of Discord.
Trojan Prince Paris - The Bribes and his Judgment
Paris was the young Trojan prince, son of King Priam and the younger brother of Hector. The three goddesses in order to win the apple, offered different bribes to Paris. Athena offered to make him the greatest leader and general and also give him sound abilities of fighting and organizing. Hera offered him the richest and most powerful kingdom to rule. Some sources claim that Hera offered Paris the whole of then-known Asia as a bribe. On the other hand, Aphrodite promised Paris that he would marry the most beautiful woman on Earth, who at that time was the Helen of Sparta. Many scholars claim that the decision by Paris was extremely foolish. His judgment resulted in the downfall of the might of Troy. Some believe that Paris's decision also earned him the wrath of Athena and Hera, who are said to have later supported the Spartan and the Achaean armies in the siege of Troy.
After giving the judgment, Paris sailed to Greece. It is also said that brother and sister of Paris, Helenus and Cassandra, who were gifted in the art of divination and prediction, had forbidden him from undertaking the journey and forewarned him by saying that the voyage would ultimately result in the destruction of the Trojan civilization.
In Greece, Paris was a guest of Helen of Sparta and her husband King Menelaus. As promised by the deity of love, Aphrodite, Helen fell in love with Paris. She was shot by Eros (Cupid), as instructed by Aphrodite, even before she could see Paris entering the Spartan Palace. Helen and Paris escaped from Sparta, when King Menelaus was away attending the funeral of his uncle on the island of Crete.
The siege of Troy is believed to have lasted for about 10 years. Scholars and archaeologists believe that it lasted from the year 1194 to 1184 BC. Several other dates and years have also been proposed. For example, Ephorus, the Greek historian, propagates the date, to be 1135 BC, or Sosibius, Chief Minister to Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt, states the date to be 1172 BC. On the other hand, Eratosthenes and Timaeus, have stated the dates, 1184 BC/1183 BC or 1193 BC, respectively. Many renowned generals, kings and princes joined the battle against Troy. The allied forces known as the Achaean force was formed by a pact that was signed even before the marriage of Helen. The pact was signed so that Tyndareus, Helen's father, would not have to suffer the enmity of the rejected suitors of Helen, when she married Menelaus. The pact said that all the suitors would peacefully accept the suitor that Tyndareus would choose and they would also defend Helen's marriage. Thus when Helen and Paris escaped, Tyndareus summoned the rejected suitors to help him bring back Helen.
The siege of Troy ended with the Achaeans presenting the Trojan horse as a peace gift to the Trojans. The Trojan horse was actually hollow and many Greek soldiers were hidden in it. The Trojans were massacred when the Greeks within the horse came out and opened the city gates to let in the massive Achaean force that had pretended to sail away, but were actually waiting on a nearby island.
Many historians believe that Homer invented the stories of Trojan War and put them down in the form of poems, Iliad and Odyssey. Some of the historians also believe that Homer and several other Greek poets of that time, recorded the different Greek wars and then compiled them into the Greek Epic Cycle. The most rational explanation for the works of Homer is that he recorded the Greek war at Troy and glorified it by adding mythological characters. Characters like Achilles may have existed in reality and may have indeed been superior warriors, but their abilities and immortality may not have been a reality.
Many facts about the Trojan War still remain hot topics of debate between archaeologists and historians all over the world. The truth behind some of the mythological facts will probably remain unexplained. For example Achilles, the son of Thetis and Peleus was supposed to be immortal, since his mother had bathed him daily in the River Styx. However, as she had held him from his heel, which made him vulnerable at that point and not entirely immortal.
Heinrich Schliemann, a German archaeologist, discovered the site of Troy Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Heinrich Schliemann dug up four sites of Troy. However, many historians have raised questions about Schliemann's Troy and as time has progressed, it has become even more difficult to answer the questions about Troy.
The Trojan War is probably the first, fully recorded ancient war that gave rise to different parameters of civilizations and successful kingdoms such as the Greek empire or the Roman Empire. It has influenced mankind. Indeed, the story of the Trojan War has taught humanity that time is an element that changes everything, even the most powerful and the weakest. Time is, in fact, an element that shapes civilizations.
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