Sunday, April 24, 2016

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

      Today marks the anniversary of the traditional Fall of Troy in 1184 B.C., thereby bringing to its culmination the Trojan War.

      The Fall of Troy is not recounted in Homer’s Iliad, the iconic epic, it rather covering only a period of ten days to two weeks within the supposed ten-year span of the war (the Iliad ends with Hector's death).  The Fall of Troy through the subterfuge of the Trojan Horse is briefly mentioned in the Odyssey and is referenced in several other Greek sources (there exists a long series of Greek stories regarding the Trojan War – Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are only two examples).  The story would not find, however, its full development until Virgil’s Aeneid.

      Some modern historians have attempted to explain the story as an analogy, suggesting actually that it was an earthquake – Poseidon, whose portfolio included horses, was as well the god of earthquakes – that breached the walls.  I, for one, would rather retain the literal interpretation.

      Regardless, it is a great story, especially the fall of Achilles to Paris after the former killed Hector.  Speaking of which, the movie Troy misstated the story, likely because they wanted to keep Brad Pitt on the screen.  Achilles was killed before the fall of Troy; he did not participate in its sacking.  But then much of that movies departs from the legends.  For example, it has Patroclus sneaking off to battle wearing Achilles' armor.  In fact Achilles gave Patroclus his armor to wear in that engagement.  It did not end well for Patroclus.

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