Archaeology and the Trojan War Essay

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Archaeology and the Trojan War “… he [Heinrich Schliemann] found layers of ruins … and two bore unmistakable signs of violent destruction. One of these layers, the seventh according to more recent excavators, was no doubt the city of Priam and Hector. The historicity of the Homeric tale had been demonstrated archaeologically.” - M.I. Finley, the World of Odysseus Introduction The Trojan War and its characters are detailed in the writings of Homer, Vergil, Dante and many others. It is a fantastical tale of a decade-long siege of a powerful city by a massive pan-hellenic force. However, even though it has proved to be such a rich source of inspiration for writers, poets and artists throughout history, it is debated whether it…show more content…
Thucydides, much like Heroditus, believed that it had happened, though he does concede that Homer had changed the story in creating his poetry. Other authors who have drawn on the Trojan War include Plato, Vergil and Dante. Though the Trojan War was an event from early Greek history, the Romans too wrote about it. Vergil’s unfinished Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas. Indeed, classical civilisations did not have a monopoly on the Trojan War - Ulysses (Odysseus latinised) appears alongside Diomedes (another leader of the Achaeans who, amongst other deeds, went inside the famous Trojan Horse) in Dante's Inferno. Because so many authors have written about the Trojan War, there are conflicting versions of events. However, we can compare the different versions and conclude that anything that is repeated in each of the sources actually happened. At the most basic level, we can say that the Trojan War was a pan-hellenic assault on the city of Troy, which after a protracted siege, the attackers were the victors. (If we do not take it for granted that the Trojan War was an attack on the Trojans, then there is very little reason for calling it the “Trojan War”.) The other problems with the surviving accounts of the Trojan War are the involvement of the gods. Supposedly Apollo and Poseidon helped build Troy as punishment. Throughout the Aeneid, the gods aid mortals in their own particular struggles. Obviously, if the Trojan
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