The Trojan War!
Short is my date, but deathless my renown.
-Homer, The Iliad
The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis
Goddess of discord—Eris—not invited
Eris crashes the Greek wedding, tosses out a golden apple
inscribed “To the Fairest”
3 goddesses claim it
Zeus is having no part of this; sends them to Mt. Ida for Paris to
The Judgment of Paris
Paris is a prince of Troy, Priam’s son
Priam sent Paris to herd sheep in Mt. Ida: a
prophecy says Paris will be the ruin of Troy
The 3 goddesses arrive and offer bribes
Athena: will make him lord of Europe and Asia
Hera: will give him victory over Greece
Aphrodite: will give him the most beautiful woman in the
Paris is weak and a coward: he picks Aphrodite
The Capture of Helen
Helen is the most beautiful woman in the world
Daughter of Zeus and Leda (swan story!)
So beautiful Theseus tried to kidnap her as a child
Every prince in Greece wanted her: she’s gorgeous, and
her husband will get to be king of Sparta
Her father, makes her masses of suitors swear to champion
Helen’s husband, no matter who is picked
The suitors agree to unite and punish anyone who might
Menelaus is chosen
Congratulations! Paris visits Sparta
Paris goes to Sparta to visit as guest of Menelaus and Helen
Menelaus goes to Crete, trusting Paris in Sparta
Paris likes Helen and runs away with her.
Preparations for War
Chieftains rush to join, all but two:
1. Odysseus, King of Ithaca
1. Doesn’t want to leave his family
2. Feigns madness; plows a field and sows it with salt
3. Greek messenger puts Odysseus’s son in the plow’s way
4. Odysseus turns the plow, proving he’s sane
5. It’s off to the army for him!
Who’d have thought?
The other chieftain who doesn’t want to go to war is none
other than Achilles!
1. Thetis, his mother, knows he’ll die if he goes to Troy.
2. Thetis hides him at the court of Lycomedes, disguising him
as a girl.
3. Odysseus is sent to find him.
4. Odysseus dresses as a peddler, and happens to bring
weapons with him.
5. One “girl” really digs the weapons; when a fake battle cry is
issued, “she” reveals herself: It’s Achilles!
6. It’s off to the army for him!
No one messes with a Spartan woman!
1000 ships set sail for Troy.
“Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?”
“Is this the reason the Greeks sacked Troy?”
Royal Family of Troy
1. King: Priam
b. has 50 sons
2. Queen: Hecuba (not the mother of all 50 sons, just 17 or so)
3. Paris (we’ve met him; we’re not impressed)
4. Hector (now we’re impressed)
a. the greatest warrior in Troy
b. Priam’s noblest son
c. The only prince of Troy NOT to develop the hots for
d. The only one to be nice to Helen when everyone is
tired of a 10 year war
The Best of the Greeks
a. immortal except his heel (mom dipped
him in the Styx for immortality,
missed the heel—oops!)
b. golden armor
c. greatest Greek warrior
a. King of Mycenae
b. Leader of the Greeks
c. bossy, proud, unreasonable
More Best of the Greeks
a. King of Sparta
b. Helen’s husband
c. Agamemnon’s brother
a. King of Ithaca
b. Crafty, the smartest hero
a. crazy strong
b. fiercest warrior
6. Protesilaus (he’s up for honorable mention)
a. first to land on shores of Troy
b. Why is this a big deal? A prophecy said
the 1st to land would be 1st to die
1. Battle has raged 9 years with no victor
a. Iliad begins in the 10th year of the war
b. this is a literary technique known as in medias res
2. Achilles and Agamemnon butt heads over captive
women: Chryseis and Briseis.
a. Agamemnon captured her
b. Her dad is a priest of Apollo, and he begs her
c. Agamemnon refuses
d. Divine retribution: Apollo rains down arrows of
fatal sickness on Greeks
e. Achilles calls a conference and brings in Calchas, a
f. The verdict: Chryseis must be returned
g. Agamemnon’s pride is wounded, he is furious
a. Achilles captured her
b. When forced to give up Chryseis, Agamemnon takes
Briseis from Achilles
c. Achilles is furious: he drops out of the war, stays in his
d. Greeks begin to lose the war
The Gods Take Sides!
1. Lining up for the Trojans
a. Aphrodite: Paris picked her
b. Ares: always sides with Aphrodite
c. Apollo: fond of Hector, angry with
the Greeks over Chryseis
d. Artemis: always sides with her twin
e. Zeus: supposed to be neutral, but
favors Troy anyway
The Gods Take Sides!
On the Greek side:
a. Hera: woman scorned syndrome
c. Poseidon: Greeks are a seagoing culture
Thetis pushes Zeus to help Troy
a. Greeks can’t win without Achilles
b. Zeus sends Agamemnon a lying dream, telling
him to attack
c. fierce battle ensues
Menelaus v. Paris
• There is a clearing in the battle, and the two are left to fight!
• Just when it looks like Menelaus will drag Paris off,
Aphrodite intervenes and takes Paris away!
• Menelaus hunts Paris among the Trojans. They want to give
him up but can’t find him.
• Agamemnon says Menelaus won, so Helen should be
• Athena tricks a Trojan into breaking a truce, and the battle is
Hector prepares for battle; he knows he’s going to die.
He says goodbye to his wife, Andromache, and baby son,
Astyanax is afraid of Hector’s armor, so he removes his
helmet and says goodbye.
Achilles v. Hector
Earlier in battle, Hector killed Patroclus, one of Achilles’ few friends. Needless to say,
Achilles flips out.
Achilles gets new armor from Thetis—magical, that can’t be pierced
1. Hector wears the armor he took from Patroclus’ body
2. Hector waits for Achilles, sees him coming, radiant and godlike, and starts
3. Hector can’t quite outrun Achilles, but Achilles can’t catch him, either
4. Fate isn’t with Hector
a. Apollo has been helping Hector, something Zeus has
b. Athena warns Zeus to back off, as fate is against Hector
c. Apollo must leave Hector’s side
5. Hector finally stops to fight, fooled by Athena, who takes the form of a brother and
promises to help him fight Achilles
6. Hector suddenly finds himself alone, facing Achilles, who is helped by Athena.
7. Achilles aims his spear at an opening in the throat of Hector’s armor, kills him.
Achilles Breaks the Rules
1. Hector, dying, asks that his body be returned to his parents;
2. Achilles ties Hector’s body (by the ankles) to his chariot & drags
it around Troy
3. Most gods are massively displeased: you never, EVER violate
4. Priam goes to Achilles to beg for his son’s body
5. Achilles is touched, has the body bathed & covered, and returns
6. Nine days truce for funeral rites
The Fall of Troy
Achilles’ Last Battle
1. Kills Memnon of Ethiopia (he was helping Troy with an
2. Drives Trojans back to the city walls
3. Paris shoots Achilles in that vulnerable heel—kills him
(his bones are laid with those of Patroclus)
The Death of Ajax
1. Two heroes are nominated to receive the arms of Achilles: Ajax
2. In a secret vote, Odysseus wins—it’s a huge honor
3. Ajax feels disgraced, plans to kill Agamemnon & Menelaus—he
blames them for turning the vote against him (he’s right)
4. Ajax pursues them by night; Athena strikes him mad—he thinks a
flock of sheep are the Greeks; thinks a ram is Odysseus & beats it
5. On regaining his senses, he’s humiliated and kills himself
The Arms of Hercules
1. Greeks are discouraged and grab a prophet, Helenus. He says:
a. Greeks can’t win unless they kill Paris
b. Only the bow and arrows of Hercules can kill Paris
2. Philoctetes has them
a. Philoctetes was with the Greeks on the way to Troy
b. On an island, he was bitten by a serpent and the wound would not heal
c. The Greeks left him there
3. Odysseus goes back for the weapons
a. First, he steals them
b. Guilt: he gets Philoctetes, takes him to Troy and a Greek doctor
4. Healed, Philoctetes joins the battle, kills Paris with Hercules’s arrows
Greeks have to steal the Palladium (sacred image of Athena) in order to win—Odysseus
is their man
The Trojan Horse
Odysseus thinks up the Trojan Horse. It’s hollow, and bit
enough to hold a number of men who fill it.
Greeks not in the Horse pretend to sail away.
Trojans are thrilled at their departure and rush to the
Sinon is one Greek who was left with a story to tell the
Trojans, that the horse is an offering to Athena, meant to
be given to the Trojans, but it’s so big that they can’t take
it inside, so the plan is to leave it outside the city walls.
Sigh . . .
The Trojans take the horse into the city
At night, soldiers sneak out and let the whole Greek
army into the city
Troy is burning before the Trojans are even dressed
Trojans fight hard: they tear up roofs & throw beams on
Greeks; put on dead Greeks’ armor to trap more Greeks.
The Greeks win
Where are they now??
Priam: was spared by Achilles, but Neoptolemuskills him.
Helen: Aphrodite helps her out of the city. She goes back to
Menelaus, and they live happily ever after (irony! Irony!).
1. a captive, to be a slave to a Greek warrior
2. hopes to keep her baby, but that’s not how it’s done
3. messenger arrives, advises her to be brave and not to blame
4. baby is taken and thrown from the walls of the city, like all the
Agamemnon: Takes a woman (Cassandra) captive and returns to
Mycenae with her. She warns Agamemnon of impending
doom, but is ignored. When they arrive, his wife,
Clytemnestra is waiting (with a lover, Aegisthus), and
murders Agamemnon and his little hussy too!