Did the Trojan War really happen
There has been no direct answer to the above question. This is because the Trojan War story is a myth or a legend. Most myths or legends have a basis. We can say that the Trojan War really did happen, although not in that way it has been portrayed by the Greeks. It has been proved by the German archeologist Schliemann that Troy existed. In addition, Homer estimates the war to have probably lasted for around ten years. The year is estimated to be around 1250 BC.
The story is about the Goddess of Discord, Eris who had wanted to give a golden apple to one of the three goddesses Athena, Aphrodite or Hera. She sent them to Paris of Troy to decide and he chose Aphrodite. As a form of appreciation, she made the most beautiful woman, Helen fall in love with Paris. Paris then took her to Troy. Helen was married to Menelaus who was the King of Sparta. This made Agamemnon, the King’s brother fight Paris in a battle that lasted ten years.
By using the Trojan horse, the Greeks won the war. They built a huge wooden horse that thirty soldiers could fit in. The rest of the soldiers sailed away and left only one of them to talk to the Trojans. The soldier left behind said that the others had left him and the horse was just an offering to Athena. The Trojans thought the war had come to an end and celebrated but later in the night, the Greek soldiers came out of the horse, attacked and won the war (Wilson 2002).
It is not clear whether the war took place or it as just a fantasy by the Greeks. Many historians have said that there might have occurred wars between the Greeks and Turks during the period of the Trojan War. We are not yet sure whether heroes from the war like Achilles, Paris, Agamemnon and the others were real characters or not.
Some like Heinrich Schliemann have tried to unravel this mystery. He used the clues in Homer’s tales to find the city of Troy. This city was the home of the Trojans and where the war supposedly took place. This discovery has reduced the doubts surrounding the existence of a city like Troy. Schliemann has gone ahead and excavated Mycenae which was home to King Agamemnon, who led an assault on Troy. There were around nine cities found on the site and the seventh was thought to be Troy. It was destroyed around 1250 B.C. there has been speculations on the real cause of the war. Some have said it was fought for the control of an important water passage which is between the Aegean Sea and the Marmara Sea. Others have said the source of the war was as a result of scarcity of food and metal.
In this aspect, Homer’s version is perpetuated to be a poet’s fantasy and not a tangible form of history. However, it is important that the heroic aspect is incorporated since it provides the Greeks a special identity.
Others like Richard Lattimore have said that the war could have just been some kind of a Viking raid. It may not have been the way we have believed it to be. He goes ahead to say that all the facts we know about the war might have actually been the opposite.
This legend of the Trojan War began at a wedding between Peleus, a Greek king, and Thetis, a sea nymph. Zeus’s daughter Eris had not been invited because she would have caused a scene. An angered Eris threw a golden apple among the guests for the fairest of them all (Wilson 2002). Three goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athena would not agree as to who was the fairest amongst them. To ease the tension, Zeus sent them to Prince Alexander who was known to be a judge of good cattle. The goddesses tried to bribe Paris but it was Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who won his favor. She promised him that he would be in possession of Helen, the most beautiful woman on earth.
However, on his arrival in Sparta, Paris found that Helen was the wife to Menelaus who was the brother of the King of Mycenae. Paris fled from Sparta with Helen when Menelaus had left the city. Menelaus returned to find his wife missing. He then decided to launch attacks on Troy for years so as to recover the stolen riches and ask for Helen. But the Trojans would hear none of it; they denied that neither Helen nor Spartan’s riches were within their territory. In the long run, the Greeks won the war after employing military deceptive strategies and launching numerous attacks (Cantor, 2003).
Herodotus, a Greek historian, travelled throughout the Mediterranean to seek information on the war. He travelled to Egypt and asked the priest if they had any information on the Trojan War. The Egyptian priests told him that the Trojans knew nothing of Paris or Helen. Paris had taken her into Egypt. However, the difference between the Greek legend and the Egyptian’s arises in that; Menelaus did not go back to Sparta. He travelled to Memphis where he found Helen. The unfavorable windy condition made his ship not to sail back to his homeland. He offered two Egyptian kids as sacrifice to the gods. His actions angered the Egyptians who drove them out of their country. The two ended up in Libya. The priests however did not reveal to Herodotus what happened to Helen, Paris or Menelaus. We are not sure if this is true but it is seems to be another version of the legend.
Back to the question on weather the war really happened, it is still not clear. Historical findings have shown that there occurred several armed conflicts around Troy at the end of the Late Bronze Age. We are still not sure if one of the wars was a Trojan War. However, as for now, we should consider Homer’s version since it would have been based on memories of what really happened.
We can somehow believe that the events of the war happened basing on the fact that Chadwick has found some evidence on what as written by Homer. However, we cannot believe that the timing according to Homer is right. The event that raises a lot of questions is the Trojan horse. Things do not add up as recounted by Homer. How could have a strong army which endured a war for ten years just fall in one night? It seems that there must have been something else.
If taken literally, it is physically impossible for such a huge horse to be built and successfully pass through the gates. But there is some explanation that can be used. Evidence from archeologists suggests that Troy’s walls were brought down by an earthquake. Poseidon, at that time was the god of the sea, the earthquake and the horses. So the ancient city dwellers could have said it was Poseidon who toppled the walls. Eventually the Greeks are brought out as clever by inventing the horse.
In my own view, the war might have happened but the reasons for it were more serious and not just love stories. They might have fought for the control of trade or access to the Black Sea.
The history of the Trojan War is a debate that could go on for years on end. The Ancient Greeks thought the Trojan War was an event that happened in the 13th century BC. They believed that Troy was located in modern day Turkey. Many Greeks believed that the Homeric poems had exaggerated the events that had occurred so as to suit the demands of poetry. For instance, Thucydides the historian, known for his critical spirit, considers it to be a true occurrence but doubts that more than a thousand ships were sent to Troy. Euripides began changing Greek myths at will, including those depicting the Trojan War. Around 1875, it was agreed in Western Europe that the Trojan War never occurred and Troy was never built. But Heinrich Schliemann came and discovered the ruins of Troy and of the Mycenaean cities. Today’s scholars do agree that the Trojan War is based upon a historical core of a Greek expedition, but few of them would argue that the Homeric poems represent the actual events of the war.
Geologists John Kraft and John Luce have investigated into the geology of the landscapes and coastal features as described in the Iliad and other sources. They concluded that there a consistency between Troy’s location as identified by Schliemann, geological evidence, and descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle in the Iliad.
Scholars have attempted to conclude on Hittite and Egyptian texts from the time of the Trojan War. But their information on this particular conflict is limited. Andrew notes that while the Trojan War might have taken place but its true nature will not be known. Hittite archives mention a kingdom of Achaea or Greece which lie beyond the sea. It also mentions the Assuwa confederation of cities and countries which included the city of Ilios or Ilium.
The Trojan War is among important events in Greek mythology. It was narrated in a poem of which only the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, are still intact. The Iliad describes an episode late in the war, while the Odyssey describes the journey home of one of the Odysseus. Other parts and different versions were elaborated by later Greek poets and the Roman poet Virgil.