The Trojan War is a legendary event, essential component of the ancient Greek culture. It gave place to many artistic works, arts persons in particular. A part is told by it in Iliade of Homère; the poem bears this name because the Greek name of the town of Troy east Ilion : it is about the first epopee written in Greek and it has a value founder.
The war of Troy is undertaken following the removal of Helene, wife of the king of Sparte, Ménélas, by Trojan the Pâris. Indeed, Helene had been promised to him by Aphrodite, in thanks for the judgment of the mount Ida, allotting gold apple to him. The Greek kings, downward of Pélops, meet then. Bound between them by the oath of Tyndare, they decide to carry out the war against Troy with a very important quota.
After having brought together other heroes like Achilles, they constitute a fleet which accosts, in the second year after the removal of Helene, in Mysie, not far from Élée. They face initially Télèphe, king de Mysie and wire of Héraclès which, alarmed by the unloading of a so imposing army, dispatched against it its own troops. After fierce combats, Télèphe learns the identity from the chiefs of the enemy army, and cease fights it. The Greek fleet sets out again at it after this first forwarding, and rests during eight years. Ten years after the removal of Helene, the Greeks launch the one second forwarding which accosts, thanks to the councils of Télèphe, on the shore vis-a-vis Troy. After first battles with Troyens, the Achaens begin the head office of Troy. To weaken the city, and to supply themselves, they launch incursions against the cities around. An embassy carried out by Ménélas and Ulysses claims with Priam, king de Troie, the restitution of Helene, without success.
During the tenth year of the seat, and at the time of one of the raids, Chryséis, girl of a priest of Apollo, is captured and allotted like starts from honor to Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Greeks. Courroucé, Apollon strikes the Greek camp of a plague, and Agamemnon is obliged to return its prisoner. In compensation, it takes authority that which fell like starts from honor to Achille: Briséis. Furious, this one is withdrawn in its tent and requires of his/her mother, Thétis, to obtain Zeus which it supports Troyens.
In spite of the exploits of hero like Diomède or Ajax Large the, the Greeks lose foot. Patrocle, companion of Achilles, obtains from this last the permission to carry its weapons, in order to galvanize the troops. Thus vêtu, it launches a vast attack against the city, but east demolishes by Hector, oldest son of Priam. Insane of pain, Achille takes again the weapons and kills Hector. It also overcomes the new allies come using Priam: Penthésilée, queen of the Amazones, and Memnon, Ethiopian prince.
Ulysses then has the idea of the Trojan horse: Greek warriors are dissimulated in a large wooden horse, disguised in offering with Poséidon. The Greek fleet pretends to be withdrawn, giving up the horse on the beach. As a sign of victory, Troyens insert the trap in their walls. Believing the finished war, they feast and are delighted. The come night, the Greek warriors leave the horse and open the doors. Troy is plundered, the family members royal killed or taken along in slavery, and Ménélas can finally bring back Helene to Sparte, twenty years after its removal. At the time of the combat, Achille is wounded with the heel, by an arrow launched by Pâris, and dies. This is what one calls " the heel of Achilles ".
Historicity of the Trojan War
The discovery in 1870 per the archeologist and business man Heinrich Schliemann of the ruins of Troy on the hillock of Hissarlik in Turkey started again an old debate on the historicity of the events reported by Homère. One is unaware of always at present if the Trojan War took place well. Carl Blegen concluded in 1963, following his work completed starting from the excavations of Schliemann and the discovery of the treasure of Priam, with the possibility of the conflict between Greek and Troyens. However, it was attested that the treasure in question dated from the second millenium before Jesus Christ, and that it could not thus be associated with the episode with the seat with Troy. For Claude Mossé (Professor at the university of Paris Viii-Saint Denis), collaborator of the review “History”, one will be able to never prove with certainty the existence or not conflict. As for the ancient historians, Thucydide thought him which the importance that Homère had granted to the conflict was exaggerated: the war would have indeed taken place, but the importance that the Greek gave him was influenced by their strong feeling of Nationalisme.
The excavations which were carried out on the site of the ancient city which was Troy made it possible to highlight the presence of stratigraphic layers: one found several thicknesses, which correspond each one, at this same city, but at different times. One thus could catalog nine distinct Troy.
advanced arguments for the " sceptiques" war of Troy are the following:
1) The Troy VI (1800-1300 av. J. - C.), which corresponded to the powerful city (provided with ramparts, and whose urban habitat occupied twenty square kilometers), which could have held during ten years a seat, but more especially the city which was dated at the same time as the date appointed for the apogee from the Mycéniens (17th century) was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake (attested by archeology). This natural disaster could be besides at the origin of the legend of the wooden horse which would have been an offering with Poséidon, the god of the earthquakes.
The Troy VIIa (1300-1250 av. J. - C.), which did not succeed to him was not any more but the shade of itself. The powerful city, was reduced by it to a poor wretch " camp" , resulting from a shy person attempt at reoccupying of this one. Consequently which interest the Greek would they have found there? Moreover, the excavations did not make it possible to prove any at this time Greek presence: one found weapons and no sign of conflict. The city was destroyed by a fire towards 1250 av. J. - C. the Troy VIIa is the city which agrees best chronologically with the episode of Troy. Moreover, at this same time, the same empire mycénien is in full decline. It is towards 1600 qu' it is necessary to locate its apogee (Troy VI). At the time of the conflict, all this geographical space occupied by the Mycéniens, as well as the empire Hittite, much larger, are subjected to invasions. Consequently, how the Mycéniens could have been caught some with Troy, whereas they tested serious difficulties of maintaining the unit of their own empire. 2) Work (Iliade and Odyssey) was entirely allotted to Homère, but it is colossal and its style varies Iliade with the Odyssée. One can thus dispute the authenticity of it. Moreover, it is probable that, having been transmitted in an oral way by Aède S (see below), it was deformed to be adapted and clearing.
3) Moreover which of the Greek would have been the mobile to justify this war: the removal of woman, such a beautiful is it would not have been enough to justify ten years of seat. The only reason which could have pushed the Greek to take the sea, it is the strategic situation which the city occupied (wearing of access to the Dardanelles, since the west and the south).
4) Lastly, one finds no trace of a conflict which would have existed between Greek and Troyens in the files Hittites (however talkative) whereas the latter were the immediate neighbors of the Troyens. The shelves mycéniennes deciphered by two English, Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, do not present either least information on the conflict of Troy, which should however have occupied an important place.
advanced arguments for the " convaincus" war of Troy are the following:
1) The end of civilization mycénienne proceeded only gradually. The study of this one makes it possible to better include/understand and interpret the facts which proceeded with Troy. Although one finds differences between the accounts of Homère and the current study in this civilization, one notices a sometimes disconcerting parallelism between the two. One can then advance the assumption that as there is a big number of common points between the poems of Homère and the current study of the Mycéniens, (in particular, from the point of view of the image of the palates and the presence of bones of horses (it is known, by the accounts of Homère that Hector was adjuster of mares), but also of found objects; shields and others discovered: one can then consider that the accounts are concordant and to affirm that the episode of the war of Troy really took place. But Moses Finley assure us that there is well a certain distance between the Homeric accounts and historical reality. Even if one finds, despite everything, certain common points between the two, one cannot associate them with certainty. Finley, with this intention, had taken into account work of another historian, Milman Parry.
2) The Troy VII seems to be indeed prepared with a seat: one found in the ruins of the full amphoras and a restoration of the walls was undertaken at that time. Besides this VIIa level seems to carry marks of human destruction. Its dating rests on the study of the Céramique that one found there. However this one can be estimated with the end of, even at the beginning of But like known as previously, it seems difficult to believe that at this same time, Mycéniens had been able to intervene militarily in Troy, since they were declining and that their system palatial had disappeared.
At all events, so in the ancient tradition, the Mythologie occupies an important place in the relations between men and gods, the current historians must of course remove all these divine interventions.
Currently, the only reason to accept the war of Troy remains the ancient tradition.
Mythological interpretation of the war
To include/understand what was really the war of Troy, it is necessary to remember the first times of the history of this city. Its walls considered impregnable were built by Poséidon, under the reign of the cruel king Laomédon. This king having refused to pay him his wages, it sent on the city a marine monster which devoured the men and vomitted sea water. On the council of an oracle, Laomédon offered his/her daughter to him Hésioné in sacrifice: it connected it naked on the shore of Troade, with its only jewels. But the arrival of Héraclès saved it. It had just carried out its ninth “work”, which consisted in taking the belt of the queen of the Amazones. After having broken the chains of Hésioné, he proposed to kill the monster in exchange of immortal horses which Laomédon had. He entered the mouth of the monster at the time when this one arrived at a rampart built by Troyens and arose victorious three days afterwards. Perfidious Laomédon not having given to Héraclès what he had promised to him, the hero the Jura to return itself. Having completed its work, it chartered several ships to leave in forwarding against Troy. Laomédon sent its people armed with swords and torches to set fire to this armada, but its men were pushed back. Thanks to Télamon, the troops of Héraclès opened a breach in the wall and entered the city. Laomédon and its sons were carried out, except Podarcès which had tried to push his/her father to keep to his commitments. He was later known under the name of Priam.
The myth of Persée presents an obvious analogy with that of Héraclès, with this difference close which it is not located at Troy, but on the coast phenician. After having decapitated Jellyfish, Persée skirted this coast and saw a naked young girl connected with a rock, carrying only some jewels. It was Andromède, girl of the king Céphée and the queen Cassiopée. Because of conceited words held by Cassiopée on its beauty and that of Andromède, Poséidon had sent a marine monster to devastate its country. The oracle of Amen had said to Céphée that it was to sacrifice his daughter to the monster. Persée proposed to intervene in exchange of the hand of Andromède. He decapitated the monster with the sword of Hermes. He celebrated then his weddings with Andromède, because Céphée and Cassiopée had promised the hand of their daughter to him. Agénor arrived with an army to claim Andromède, pretexting that he had asked his hand before Persée. It was in fact Céphée and Cassiopée which had made it come, because they had accepted the marriage of their daughter with Persée only with back-plate. Persée was defended valiantly, killing out of many adversaries, but those were so numerous that it used finally the head of Jellyfish to petrify them. Two hundred soldiers were changed into stone. Poséidon placed the images of Céphée and Cassiopée at the sky, which shows that it was close to them.
These two myths start with the history of a naked young girl attached to a rock to be offered in sacrifice to a marine monster. Its liberators, Héraclès and Persée, release it in exchange of a promise carried out by his/her parents, but the promise is not held and a great battle bursts. She ends in the total defeat of the enemy army. These two myths are variations on the same topic coming from the proto-indo-European Religion. In the beginning, the goddess Sun of the Earth (as called it the Hittites) was removed by the god of the Hells at the beginning of the night or winter. At the end of this period, it was released by the divine version of the king, who transformed it into the Dawn, a splendid young girl discovering her body. It was then the beginning of the morning or spring. A great battle took place at the beginning of the afternoon or summer with the same protagonists: the king faced the god of the Hells. This one ended up being killed.
The Dawn, Éos, intervene indeed in the history of Troy, since it falls in love with Tithon, the son of Tros or Ilos, and immortality offers to him. The immortal horses promised by Laomédon point out the Rising sun, which could be comparable with bird or a horse (it is the origin of the myth of PEGASE). It is included/understood whereas Hésioné and Andromède are hypostases of the goddess Sun of the Earth, that they are brought to Troy at the beginning of the night or winter and that this city is the field of the god of the Hells, Poséidon. Helene, whose name means “Glare of the Sun”, is only another hypostasis of this goddess, released by her royal husband Ménélas and by the brother of this one, Agamemnon. Homère confused the myth of its release with that of the war and the massacre of Troyens.
In all the Indo-European field, one finds the practice to identify the Hells with peripheral territories, in particular foreign. It is for example the case of the Spain in Irish mythology. The Greeks thus located them on the coasts of Troade, but also on those of Phénicie and in Crete. This is why Minos, a mythical king of this island, became a judge of the Hells with Éaque and Rhadamante. Poséidon, manufacturer of the walls of Troy, is not the god of the Hells (returning role with Hadès), but it indeed has bonds with the Other World. Héraclès spends its time killing its sons just as it fights Troyens. Priam took again a characteristic of Poséidon: its extraordinary prolificity. It did not generate less than fifty children, including nineteen with the only Hécube queen. All this is only of mythology.
MOSSE (Cl.), did the Trojan War take place? , in the history, n°104, 1987, p.18-25
- One lost the Trojan War , in FINLEY (M. - I), under dir it. of, One lost the Trojan War , Paris, 1990, p. 31-44. New
- SCHNAPP-GOURBEILLON (A.), layers of ruins between history and legend , in books of Science and Life , n°70, 2002, p. 22-28.
- SCHOFIELD (L.), old Greece , Paris, 1999.
- M.ROBERTS (J.), Far East and ancient Greece , vol. 2, Paris, 1988.
- DELMONT (P.), Iliade and the Odyssey of Homère , Paris, 2004.
- Archeological site of the site of Troy, stratification, URL: http://www.cliolamuse.com/spip.php?rubrique18, consulted page on January 1st, 2007 line.
Accounts of the Trojan War
Iliade and the Odyssey are the oldest accounts which reached us about the Trojan War. Nevertheless, at the time antiquated, this subject one of was preferred Aède S and poets. Epic works which were devoted there were thus numerous. The whole of these works is named the “Trojan Cycle”.
During the traditional period and especially alexandrine, the subject remained with the mode. Many mythographes like Proclos ( Chrestomathie ) or the Pseudo-Apollodore wrote summaries or analyzes of the events described in Iliade . At the time late also flowered that continuations or against-accounts. The purpose of the latter were to present the events under an angle different from that adopted by Homère. In fact, number of the details or traditions associated for us with such or such hero are not present in Homeric work, but come from alternate versions.
Lastly, with the the Middle Ages, to the authors endeavoured to put at the range of the public cultivated the contents of Greek works.
Iliade Latin , allotted to certain Bæbius Italicus, 1st century;
- Éphéméride of the Trojan War , allotted to Dictys of Crete, 1st century;
- the Continuation of Homère , Quintus of Smyrna, 4th century;
- the Catch of Troy , Tryphiodore, 4th century;
- History of the destruction of Troy , Darès de Phrygie, 6th century;
- the Excidium Troy , compendium of the 6th century;
- the Novel of Troy , Benoit of Holy-Moor, v. 1165;
- Ilias , Simon Goat of Gold, third quarter of the 12th century;
- Iliade , Joseph d' Exeter, v. 1183 - 1190;
- Troilus , Albert of Stage, 13th century;
- the Trojan War will not take place , Jean Giraudoux, 1935.
- Chronology of the Trojan War
- Catalog of the vessels and Catalog of Troyens (forces in presence according to Iliade )
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