Presentation on theme: "The Trojan War The Unifying Tapestry of the Greek Poleis."— Presentation transcript:
The Trojan War The Unifying Tapestry of the Greek Poleis
First Thread : Sparta Leda, the wife of king Tyndareus, was raped by Zeus in the form of a swan. She gave birth to four children, two sets of twins. One of each pair of twins was divine, the child of Zeus. The other was mortal, the child of Tyndareus.
First Thread : Sparta One pair of twins was the dioscuri (“Zeus’s boys”), Castor and Polydeuces (a.k.a. Pollux). When Castor, the mortal brother, was killed, Polydeuces, the immortal one, prayed to die with him. Zeus granted them alternate immortality – each would live, but on alternate days. They are still shown together, though, worshipped as protective deities of seafaring, and patron gods of the historical Sparta. They are the constellation Gemini (“the twins”).
The twin girls were Clytemnestra, the mortal one, and Helen, the daughter of Zeus. Helen is a figure of cult in the Greek world, but in literature she is not treated as immortal.
Helen was so beautiful that all of the eligible young men of Greece wanted to marry her. Tyndareus was afraid that those who were disappointed would try to take Helen by force from the man who married her. So he made all the suitors swear an oath to support Helen’s husband and restore Helen to him if they were ever separated. First Thread : Sparta
Second Thread : Thetis When Prometheus was released, he prophesied to Zeus that the sea- nymph Thetis would bear a son greater than his father. Zeus decided to marry Thetis to a mortal. That mortal was Peleus, who captured her on a distant island, as she changed shape trying to escape him. Their wedding was attended by all the gods and goddesses – except one.
Second Thread : Thetis Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited. She came anyway, throwing down a golden apple inscribed, “For the most beautiful.” Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera instantly all claimed the prize.
Zeus declared that the only way to determine who really deserved the prize was to ask someone totally naive – a young shepherd boy in Asia, named Paris. Paris, however, wasn’t really just a young shepherd. His parents were Priam and Hecuba, king and queen of Troy. When he was born, Hecuba had dreamed that she had birthed a firebrand, and they exposed him to ward off the evil omen. Third Thread : Paris
The goddesses all offered bribes. Hera offered kingly power, Athena offered victory in war, and Aphrodite offered marriage with the world’s most beautiful woman. Paris chose Aphrodite. The only problem was, the most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta, was already married.
Third Thread : Paris Paris (now suddenly accepted back into his birth family as a prince of Troy) went on a grand tour, visiting other aristocrats in Greece. When he visited Menelaus, he left with his host’s wife – a serious violation of xenia, guest-friendship. Menelaus called on the other Greek princes to obey their oath and protect his marital rights. The Trojan War was underway.
Second Thread : Thetis Meanwhile, Peleus and Thetis had had an extraordinary son, Achilles. With an absentee sea-goddess mother, he was raised by the centaur Chiron.
Second Thread : Thetis When Thetis heard that Menelaus was calling together an army to get Helen back, she feared for her mortal son, already a brilliant warrior. She told him her prophecy: Either he would lead a long, happy but obscure life at home, or he would go to Troy and die young. Achilles wanted to go to Troy. Thetis tried to hide Achilles from the Greek “recruiters” by disguising him as a girl. But Odysseus found him, and Thetis was forced to let him go. Besides, one of the girls he’d been hiding among was already pregnant.
The Trojans Priam was the king of Troy, Hecuba his queen. Priam had 50 sons, of whom 12 were by Hecuba. Hector, the oldest son, was the city’s best warrior and military commander. His wife was Andromache, and they had a young son, Astyanax. Aeneas (son of Aphrodite and Anchises) was a cousin who came to assist.
The Greeks The Greeks, also called Achaeans, were led by Agamemnon, Menelaus’ brother. Achilles was the youngest man there, accompanied by his best friend, Patroclus, and a childhood tutor, Phoenix. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, had not wanted to come, but he was obliged by his oath. Nestor, the oldest warrior, was known for wise counsel. Ajax (the Greater) was the best warrior after Achilles. Chalchas was the Greeks’ prophet.
Sources: Homer’s Iliad There are many stories surrounding the Trojan war and its heroes. After all, this was the central saga of all of Greece, and everyone had a local hero involved. Our Trojan war sources range from the earliest literature (Homer) through late Latin epics (Quintus of Smyrna). But Homer’s Iliad always took precedence. The Iliad was required reading for school children. It was not just a classic, it was a treasured text – as well known and respected as the Bible. It tells the story of 53 days of the war; from the onset of plague in the Greek camp, to the funeral of Hector. Many major events, such as the Trojan horse, are only told in later sources.
Sing, Muse, the wrath of Achilles, Peleus’ son, a ruinous wrath, which put countless woes upon the Achaians and hurled many mighty souls of heroes to Hades, and made them a feast for dogs and a banquet for birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished, from the time when Agamemnon and Achilles first quarrelled. The Iliad The quarrel began when a plague struck the Greek camp. Calchas, the seer, determined that it was caused because Agamemnon had captured the daughter of a priest of Apollo as his slave girl, and he would have to give her back. Agamemnon was enraged because this would lessen his honor. Achilles Calchas
The Warrior Ethos The Homeric warrior’s ethos was based on responsibility to, and honor from, his companions, which was formalized in material prizes. Time is the word for honor, which is assessed by the good opinion of your companions. Loss of time is shameful. A geras is a prize of honor, won by you or voted to you by your companions. When war booty is divided, the size of your geras reflects your time. If Agememnon gives back his slave, he will lose time. So he threatens to take someone else’s slave. But then that warrior would lose time.
Achilles objects that Agamemnon’s plan is not fair, and Agamemnon responds that he will then take Achilles’ slave girl, Briseis. Achilles, warned by Athena not to attack Agamemnon, submits, but withdraws from battle and refuses to fight. He even prays to Thetis for the Greeks to lose. The Warrior Ethos In Greek eyes, Achilles had the right to act as he did, though it is destructive and harmful to his friends. Like Apollo’s, his rages are larger than life and accomplish divine will, however tragic. Achilles will suffer the most for his rage in the end.
Hector and Andromache While the Greeks argue in their all-male warrior world, inside Troy there is the poignance of family life which will soon be destroyed. Hector and Andromache are the ideal couple: he is a kind, attentive, and heroic husband, while she is a faithful, supportive, and brave wife.
Hector and Andromache Hector: All of our losses are of concern to me too, but I should feel terrible shame before the Trojan women if like a coward, I were to shrink from battle. Nor would my spirit allow me to, since I have learned to be brave, winning great glory for myself and my father. For I know this well in my heart and soul: The day will come when Troy will be destroyed. Despite this conviction, Hector prays for his infant son to grow up as a warrior too, and laughs indulgently when the plume of his helmet frightens the baby. He placed his son in the hands of his dear wife. She took him to her fragrant bosom, laughing amidst her tears. For Andromache, whose whole family has been killed in war, Hector is everything. But she knows he must go and fight.
The Embassy to Achilles Without Achilles, the Greeks begin to lose. Agamemnon realizes the error of his ways, and sends Odysseus, Ajax, and Phoenix to ask Achilles to return to battle. He offers a huge geras, including marriage with his daughter, to make up for his previous insult to Achilles. Odysseus presents the terms, emphasizing the honor from Agamemnon’s gift and how much glory Achilles can win in battle. Ajax appeals to him friend to friend – if he returns to battle, he will save Greek lives and support his companions. Phoenix draws on myth and their past relationship to urge him to support his community. But Achilles refuses them all, in a speech that is sometimes articulate and sometimes passionate.
Achilles’ Response I hate the man who says one thing in his heart and says something else, as much as I hate Hades’ realm. I do not believe that Agamemnon will persuade me, nor the other Greeks, since it was no pleasure to me always to fight against the enemy relentlessly. The coward is held in equal honor with the brave man who endures and fights hard, and equal is his fate. The one who does much and the one who does nothing find a similar end in death. It was no advantage to me when I suffered deeply, continually risking my life in battle... fighting against enemies made beligerent in the defense of their wives.
Achilles’ Response Why must the Greeks attack the Trojans? Was it not on account of Helen? Are the sons of Atreus the only ones who love their wives? To be sure, any decent and responsible man loves his own, just as I loved Briseis from the depths of my heart, even though she was won by my spear. In three days I’ll be home in Phthia. I left behind rich possessions when I was mad enough to come here... If the gods preserve me, my father will choose a bride for me. Now I think no riches can compare with being alive... a man’s life-breath cannot be hunted back once it passes his lips. As for Agamemnon, I would not share one word of counsel with him; he robbed me and broke faith with me.
But Achilles does not go home. He stays by the ships, inactive, while things get worse for the Greeks. Finally his friend Patroclus, loyal and kind-hearted, can’t stand it any longer. As the Trojans attack the Greek camp, he proposes that he should wear Achilles’ armor and lead out their men, and try to turn the tide of battle by his appearance alone. Patroclus Achilles agrees, but warns him not to go too far.
Patroclus Patroclus, himself a brave warrior, turns the tide of battle, even after the Trojans realize he is not Achilles. But he forgets Achilles’ instructions and attacks the city walls. There Hector kills him. A huge fight breaks out as the Trojans try to despoil the body, and the Greeks try to protect it. When Achilles hears the news of his friend’s death, he runs out onto the battle field without armor. But that is enough to make the Trojans back off. Patroclus’ body is returned home – but without armor.
Achilles’ Revenge Achilles is back, with single minded purpose: revenge. He brushes off Agamemnon’s presents, and refuses food and drink – all he wants is to fight. But first he must have new armor. Thetis approaches Hephaestus, who makes Achilles miraculous armor. Depicted on it are all aspects of human life – love, war, harvest, friendship, civic justice, dancing and celebrating – All the things warriors abandon – All the things the living give up when they die. Achilles returns to battle.
Achilles’ Revenge Previously, Achilles was a chivalrous warrior, taking prisoners and allowing families to ransom them. Now he is pitiless. To one teen-aged enemy he says, Why ask for mercy? Some morning or evening someone will take my life too, with a spear-cast or an arrow... Nose down there with the fishes. They’ll kiss your blood away. Achilles chokes the river Skamander with so many corpses that the river itself does battle with him. But Achilles escapes, still longing to kill Hector.
Achilles’ Revenge Finally his opportunity comes. He faces Hector in single combat. For a moment Hector loses heart and runs, but finally turns to fight Achilles. Apollo favors Hector... but Hector’s time has come. With Athena’s help, Achilles kills him, and with his dying breath, Hector prophesies Achilles’ death.
Achilles’ Revenge Still enraged, Achilles ties Hector’s body to his chariot and drives it 7 times around Troy’s walls. The gods, offended by the sacrilege, protect the body. Achilles returns to camp. In the days that follow, he continues to abuse the body and refuses to return to normal life. He is out of touch with reality.
Achilles’ Revenge Meanwhile the ghost of Patroclus appears to him and tells him to bury his (Patroclus’) body – which was still unburied! Achilles does so, combining cruelty (killing 12 Trojan prisoners on the tomb) and kindness (magnanimously hosting excellent funeral games, giving away generous prizes) And finally the gods send Athena to tell Achilles to let go of his anger and return Hector’s body to his family.
The End of the Iliad Hermes leads Priam to Achilles’ tent, carrying a huge ransom.
The End of the Iliad Now in Achilles the evocation of his father stirred new longing, and an ache of grief. He lifted the old man’s hand and gently put him by. Then both were overcome as they remembered: the old man wept for Hector, and Achilles wept for his own father, and for Patroclus again, and sobbing filled the room. Achilles: Iron must be the heart within you! Come, sit down, we’ll let our grief rest, though it lies heavily on us.
The End of the Iliad Tears heal nothing, drying so stiff and cold. This is the way the gods ordained the destiny of men, to bear such burdens in our lives, while they feel no affliction. For my father there was only one son, of all seasons and of none. Can I stand by him in his age? Far from home I sit at Troy to grieve you and your children. You, too, sir, in time past were fortunate, then the gods out of the sky sent you this bitterness. Endure it then. There is no remedy.
The End of the Iliad The Iliad concludes with the funeral of Hector, a brief celebration amongst warriors and civilians whom fate has doomed to tragedy.
Other Trojan War Stories The Amazons came to help the Trojans; one Amazon queen, Penthesileia, fought Achilles in single combat. She lost; but as her eyes met Achilles’, they realized that they were kindred spirits, and could have loved one another. Once again, the warrior’s duty precludes happiness.
Other Trojan War Stories Achilles, the greatest hero, was killed by an arrow shot by Paris, the wimp, with Apollo’s help. Homer does not mention the tradition of Achilles’ invulnerability except for his heel. But other ancient sources show it, e.g. this vase painting.
Other Trojan War Stories Euripides’ tragedy Hecuba explores the story that Achilles’ ghost demanded that Priam’s daughter Polyxena be sacrificed to him – a Trojan virgin sacrifice to match the Greek one (Iphigenia’s) at the beginning of the war.
Other Trojan War Stories After Achilles’ death, Ajax and Odysseus both wanted his armor. When it was awarded to Odysseus, Ajax went insane & killed a flock of sheep, thinking they were his enemies. Humiliated, he then committed suicide.
The End of the War After ten years of siege, and the deaths of many heroes on both sides, the Greeks had still not captured the city. So Odysseus, known for his cleverness (metis), came up with a plan. They would build a huge horse, put warriors inside, then leave it for the Trojans to take into their city as an offering to the gods. Trojan horse illustration approximately contemporary with Homer
The End of the War Cassandra warned against bringing it in, but no one listened to her. Laocoon advised against it too. But the gods had decided Troy would fall, so Poseidon, who had always favored the Greeks, sent a sea serpent to destroy Laocoon and his sons. The Trojans took the omen and brought the horse into the city.
The End of the War In the Aeneid, Vergil tells the end of the story: The Trojans celebrated and finally slept, drunk and happy. Then the Greek warriors came out of the horse, and let their companions, who had sailed back from a nearby island, into the city. Massive destruction followed. Priam and all but one of his sons were killed, Hecuba, Cassandra and all the women taken as slaves, and the city completely destroyed.
The End of the War Hector’s infant son Astyanax was thrown to his death from the walls of the city, and Andromache became the slave of Achilles’ son, Neoptolemus, who had recently joined the Greek warriors. (Strangely enough, she later married Priam’s one surviving son, Helenus, and had a relatively happy life.)
The End of the War The Greeks are violent and sacrilegious in their victory, first killing the aged king as he takes refuge at an altar.. Then Ajax (the Lesser) drags off Cassandra & rapes her after she took refuge at the altar of the virgin goddess Athena.
The End of the War The scene as illustrated in Roman wall painting (from Greek originals)
The End of the War Aeneas, after fighting bravely, escapes from the burning city, carrying his father on his shoulders (representing the weight of the past) and holding his young son by the hand (the promise of the future). Anchises holds the palladium, the ancient statue of Athena, in his arms, the sacred emblem of Troy. But Aeneas’ wife cannot keep up and is killed in the fighting. Aeneas goes on to found Rome.
The End of the War Helen is returned to Menelaus. In this vase painting, she holds her veil in a typical bridal gesture.
Helen Greek thought about Helen is ambivalent. In the Iliad and Odyssey, she is favorably portrayed – kind to those around her, intelligent and thoughtful, and not to blame for the destructive effect of her own beauty. She is a focus of heroine cult as well. Other sources treat her as an evil seductress.
The End of the War With the enemy destroyed, the Greeks return home – but how quickly victory turns sour even for the victors is seen in the Greek heroes’ often tragic homecomings. finis