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The Trojan War
Transcript of The Trojan War
The phalanx was the most important Greek formation. It was used by hoplites. They locked their shields so that each soldier would also defend the soldier to their left. Then, they had their thrusting spears bristling out from under their shields. This made charging a phalanx a suicidal task from horsemen and infantry alike. When faced with a phalanx, you would have three options: make your own phalanx, pepper them with javelins from a long range, or run (Greek Armies 62-63).
As far as sieging cities was concerned, it was not easy. Greek cities were heavily fortified and were often built on strategic high points, making them difficult to assault. Another factor was the lack of siege machinery. The Greeks had only basic catapults, and in fact, in the Trojan War, no such equipment was used, just the Trojan Horse (War Engines: Land and Sea 196-197).
Troy was an ancient city on the Aegean Sea. During the 3,000 year existence of Troy, it was razed nine times. However, each time it was rebuilt on the ashes. Despite the frequency of Troy's destruction, it is debated by scholars whether or not the Trojan War as depicted in the Iliad actually happened. The most likely time that it would have occurred was in 1260 B.C., when the historic city of Troy was burned to the ground for the 7th time ("Troy." The Ancient Near East 132-133, Riorden).
The Trojan War
The Peltasts - lightly armored skirmishers who sacrificed equipment for mobility. So named for the shield that they used, the pelte. The fought using javelins and harassed the enemy from afar. Used in advance guards ("Weaponry" World Eras 196-197, Greek Armies 62-63).
Hoplites - heavily armored soldiers with 8-10 foot thrusting spears and short swords made of iron. They carried large shields usually measuring about 30 inches in diameter that were made of bronze and wood. They wore greaves, helmets, breastplates, and arm guards made of leather and bronze to round out their armory ("Weaponry" World Eras 196-197, Greek Armies 62-63).
Horsemen - somewhat of a rarity due to how expensive horses were. They carried spears and usually came from very wealthy families. Not all Greek armies had horsemen ("Weaponry" World Eras 196-197, Greek Armies 62-63).
The Apple of Discord
There was a grand wedding for the sea goddess Thetis, and every god had been invited, except the goddess of discord and revenge, Eris. However, she showed up regardless, and threw an apple between Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera, saying it was for the fairest. The three all believed that the apple was meant for them, and asked Zeus to judge which one was the fairest among them. Zeus refused, instead appointing Paris, a mortal man and crown prince of Troy to judge the contest of beauty (Odysseus’s Raid on the Kikonians 1-12).
The three goddesses, who all wanted the apple offered Paris gifts if he judged them to be the fairest. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle, offered great wisdom and victory in battle. Hera, the queen of the gods, told Paris that she would grant him great riches and power in return for the apple. Finally, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, promised the crown prince the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris judged Aphrodite the fairest of the three, making an enemy of both Athena and Hera (Odysseus’s Raid on the Kikonians 1-12).
Mythological Causes of the Trojan War
While Aphrodite had not lied in her offer, there was a bit more involved. The most beautiful woman in the known world was Helen of Sparta, who, at the time, was married to Menelaos, the king of Sparta. While Menelaos was away, Paris abducted Helen, and spirited her off to his home, Troy.
When Menelaos discovered the perpetrator of his wife's abduction, he was furious. He called all Greeks allied to him to war. The warriors traveled across the Aegean Sea and laid siege to Troy for ten years. One such hero was Odysseus, king of Ithika. He realized that the siege could go on indefinitely, so he devised a plan. The Greeks built a huge wooden horse, left it at the gates of Troy, and sailed away. Unbeknownst to the Trojans, within the horse were Greek warriors. Believing it to be a tribute to the victors, the Trojans took the horse inside their city to their temple of Athena. After nightfall, the warriors slipped out of the horse and unlocked the gates of Troy for the Greek army, which had sailed back secretly, and ransacked Troy (Odysseus’s Raid on the Kikonians 1-12).
"Helen of Troy." UXL Encyclopedia of World Mythology. Vol. 3. Detroit: UXL, 2009. 498-502. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Oct. 2013.
"Odysseus’s Raid on the Kikonians." Pirates Through the Ages Reference Library. Ed. Jennifer Stock. Vol. 1: Primary Sources. Detroit: U*X*L, 2011. 1-12. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
Riorden, Elizabeth H. "Explore The Levels of Troy." TROY HOMEPAGE. University of Cincinnati, Web. 04 Oct. 2013.
"Troy." The Ancient Near East: An Encyclopedia for Students. Ed. Ronald Wallenfels and Jack M. Sasson. Vol. 4. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2000. 132-133. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
Hugo. Apple of Discord. July 19, 2012. Oil paint. Deviantart.com.
Anonymous folk artist. The Glorious Battle of Alexander, King of Macedon, and Porus, King of India. Russian lubok. early 18th century.
Rev Royal Robbins. Trojans Decieved. 1830. Print.
Shepherd, William. Mycenean Greece and the Orient about 1450 B.C. Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1911.
Shumate, Johnny. Greek Peltast. October 12, 2012. acrylic paint. Johnnyshumate.com
4th-century B.C.E. bone tablets with figures of soldiers in armor carrying shield and spear from a necropolis at Columbella just south of Palestrina outside Rome. THE ART ARCHIVE/MUSEO DI VILLA GIULIA ROME/DAGLI ORTI.