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In Search Of The Trojan War - 4. The Women Of Troy

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In Search Of The Trojan War

Episide Four

The Women Of Troy

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy stole Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology, and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. The Iliad relates a part of the last year of the siege of Troy, while the Odyssey describes the journey home of Odysseus, one of the Achaean leaders. Other parts of the war were told in a cycle of epic poems, which has only survived in fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets like Virgil and Ovid.

The war originated from a quarrel between the goddesses Athena, Hera and Aphrodite, after Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, gave them a golden apple, sometimes known as the Apple of Discord, marked "for the fairest". Zeus sent the goddesses to Paris, who judged that Aphrodite, as the "fairest", should receive the apple. In exchange, Aphrodite made Helen, the most beautiful of all women and wife of Menelaus, fall in love with Paris, who took her to Troy. Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and the brother of Helen's husband Menelaus, led an expedition of Achaean troops to Troy and besieged the city for ten years because of Paris' insult. After the deaths of many heroes, including the Achaeans Achilles and Ajax, and the Trojans Hector and Paris, the city fell to the ruse of the Trojan Horse. The Achaeans slaughtered the Trojans (except for some of the women and children whom they kept or sold as slaves) and desecrated the temples, thus earning the gods' wrath. Few of the Achaeans returned safely to their homes and many founded colonies in distant shores. The Romans later traced their origin to Aeneas, one of the Trojans, who was said to have led the surviving Trojans to modern day Italy.

The Ancient Greeks thought the Trojan War was a historical event that had taken place in the 13th or 12th century BC, and believed that Troy was located in modern day Turkey near the Dardanelles. By modern times both the war and the city were widely believed to be non-historical. In 1870, however, German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann excavated a site in this area which he identified as Troy; this claim is nowadays accepted by most scholars. Whether there is any historical reality behind the Trojan War is an open question. Many scholars believe that there is a historical core to the tale, though this may simply mean that the Homeric stories are a fusion of various tales of sieges and expeditions by Mycenaean Greeks during the Bronze Age. Those who believe that the stories of the Trojan War derive from a specific historical conflict usually date it to the 12th or 11th centuries BC, often preferring the dates given by Eratosthenes, 1194–1184 BC, which roughly corresponds with archaeological evidence of a catastrophic burning of Troy VIIa.

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