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The Trojan War: A Prequel to the Odyssey

A brief description of the events leading up to Homer's Odyssey.
by

Erin Claridy

on 28 June 2013

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Transcript of The Trojan War: A Prequel to the Odyssey

The Trojan War
Pause! 3 fun facts about Helen
Before the Odyssey
or the Trojan war...
Meeting Homer
1. Her father is Zeus. Her mother is mortal. She hatched from an egg. Let me explain.
About the author
The Trojan War: A Prequel to the Odyssey
The story of both the:
1) Trojan War (The Illiad)
AND
2) Odysseus attempt to go home (The Odyssey)

were written by a blind poet named Homer.
Not him.
Him
First
Homer was a bard. Bard's were professional poets. In ancient Greece bards often sang their poems with the accompaniment of music.
Homer's most famous epic poems are special in two other ways:

1) They are part of a larger oral tradition of storytelling.
2) They are part of the literary canon.
But Homer's poems weren't 3 minute slam poems, or slightly shorter poems of another variety.
Homer's poems were epic.
They were
H
U
G
E
!
No. Not this canon.
The literary canon is a body of books that have been traditionally accepted by Western scholars as the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit".


A lot of what you'll read this year is part of this "canon" or collection of works.


The Odyssey and Iliad are considered the start of the canon.
And as far as the "oral tradition"goes, it just refers to:

"culture and tradition transmitted orally from one generation to another.The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledge across generations without a writing system."
An epic poem is a long narrative about

(a)a serious subject,

(b) told in an elevated style of language,

(c) that focuses on the exploits of a hero or demi-god

(d) in which the hero's success or failure will determine the fate of that people or nation.
Q:How do you think the Trojan War began?
Was it because of a dispute?
Was it because of money?
Was it because of land?
Was it because of religion?
The Trojan war began
because of an apple.
King Peleus and Thetis were getting married. Nearly the whole of Olympus was invited...except for Eris, the goddess of Discord.

For revenge, she threw a golden apple among the partiers. “For the Most Beautiful” was inscribed on the apple.

Naturally drama ensued.

Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera wanted it.
How did they judge?
They chose one of the wedding guests, Paris, Prince of Troy, to judge who was the most beautiful.

Each of the goddesses offered him different gifts.
How did they judge?
They chose, Paris, Prince of Troy,
to judge who was the most beautiful.

To "persuade" him, they each offered him different gifts.

Athena offered bravery.
Hera offered Paris two continents full of beautiful
women and land.

She offered him the continents of Africa and Europe.
Aphrodite offered him the most beautiful woman alive.

What do you think Paris chose?
Aphrodite
2. She was so beautiful nearly every man
tried to court her...even Odysseus.
Paris chose the most beautiful woman.

Her name was
Helen, and she was the wife of
Menelaus, a Greek King.

She ran off with Paris.

Zeus admired Leda, a mortal, from afar.

To gain her love Zeus assumed the guise of a swan. As a swan, Zeus ran into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle.

He then seduced her...as a swan.

A short time later Leda laid an egg. Helen hatched from the egg. Yeah.
When the time came for her to marry, many men courted Helen. To discourage warring among them, her father, Tyndareus, made each man swear an oath that they would come to the defense of the man that won her her hand if anyone brought a quarrel to him.

This is known as the Oath of Tyndareus.

Helen chose Menelaus, king of Sparta.

3. When Odysseus couldn't
marry Helen he married her
cousin Penelope instead.
Back to the story.
Helen ran away with Paris.
As a result, Menelaus invokes the Oath of
Tyndareus and calls on the aid of his brother
Agamemnon, Odysseus, Achilles, and other heroes.
Menelaus sets sail for Troy with a thousand ships at his back to get his boo back.
And Helen earned a nickname, and reputation she hasn't been able to shake since antiquity...
The
Face
That
Launched
A Thousand
Ships
They landed and battled against the Trojans on the plains outside of Troy for ten long years.

But by now Odysseus has settled back into life on his home Island of Ithaca. He is happily married to Penelope, and Penelope has just given birth to their first son Telemachus.

Odysseus tries to beg off from his oath
by pretending to be crazy, but in the end
he is forced to go and leave behind his infant son.
Unable to break inside the city gates, Odysseus comes up with an idea. He convinces the other Greeks to create a giant wooden horse. The horse would be hollow, and inside several Greek soldiers would hide. The Greeks would withdraw their ships away from Troy and leave the horse at Troy’s gates.

Thinking it was a peace offering, the Trojans pulled the horse into the city.

During the night, the soldiers slipped from
the horse and opened the city gates.

Thousands of Greek soldiers poured into Troy.

It might have gone down a little bit like this
Almost all of the city were slaughtered. The gods were not pleased with the excessive murder that went on. They were especially incensed by Odysseus order to kill the heirs of King Priam of Troy. The king’s infant son was thrown onto the rocks from the city’s gates. The entire city was burned to the ground. For his crimes, the Gods decreed that Odysseus would not return home to his native Ithaca for another ten years.
Menelaus took back Helen and returned with her to Greece. Odysseus began his journey home as well.

But for Odysseus the journey home
was just beginning...
Unaware for a time that he is facing punishment from the gods,Odysseus encounters monsters, cannibals, cyclops, witches, sirens, shades and watches his best friends die over the course of 10 years before he ever saw his home, his wife, or his son. The story of Odysseus journey home is called...
Let's watch a fun video that
reviews what you've learned
about Greek gods, and the Trojan
war in the last 2 days. Enjoy.
Full transcript